Guys. Guys! Let me state the obvious. It’s almost Christmas. My shopping has never been more proactive. My nails are red and sparkly. There are cookies everywhere I go. Everywhere! It’s madness. I have a haphazardly strung dark green light thing across my windows in the living room. It’s trashy and heartwarming at the same time. Look:
In other words, I think I’m ready. Let’s embrace everything red, pretty and sweet. Let’s make cupcakes that have ALL the things we like: chocolate, vanilla, bright color, whipped cream, cream cheese, almond extract, sprinkles… It’s a lot, but we can handle it, especially this time of year.
We can definitely handle it. Oh boy. It’s crowded on that board–we’re packing a lot of goodness into little treats.
Nothing new here, just the classics.
This is why everybody loves red velvet. Don’t they? If not, I don’t want to know. Actually, maybe they’re like me and didn’t realize that frosting-heavy supermarket cake is not a fair representation of Red Velvet Nation.
Anyway. Chocolate AND vanilla: that’s what makes this situation so great. Syrupy double-strength bourbon vanilla in this case.
This is where things really go over the top. So much color!
So here we are. Tender, soft little cakes with light, creamy whipped-cream-but-cream-cheese-also frosting. Sprinkles are a great idea. Eat as many as you can, and take the rest to people you like.
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
(adapted from Joy the Baker)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tbsp. red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tbsp. distilled white vinegar
1 (8 ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups heavy cream
Preheat your oven to a happy 325 degrees. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy–three minutes or so. Add the eggs and beat just until well-incorporated.
In a separate small dish stir together the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and food coloring. Add this mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mix, and mix everything together well, until the color is thoroughly distributed.
Slow down the mixer and slowly add half of the buttermilk, then half of the flour and salt and mix until incorporated. Repeat with remaining halves of buttermilk, flour and salt, and mix until the batter is smooth. Finally, mix in baking soda and white vinegar–just until incorporated. Don’t overmix the batter.
Spoon the batter into a lined cupcake pan, filling each liner about halfway. Bake at 325 F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for just a little bit before removing them from the pan to allow them to cool completely on a rack.
To make frosting, (well, first, clean up your mixer situation) mix the cream cheese, sugar and both extracts in a large bowl until smooth. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Continue mixing until the frosting becomes fluffy and can hold soft peaks. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and decorate as you wish.