You know what today is, right? Arizona’s 99th birthday!
What better way to celebrate that — and that other holiday — than red velvet cupcakes?
You need cake flour for this recipe, and I thought I had a whole box. Then I picked up the box to measure it and realized I only had about a cup. Luckily, you can substitute a mix of cornstarch and all-purpose flour (for each cup of flour, add 2 tablespoons cornstarch to a 1-cup measuring cup, then fill the rest with all-purpose flour and level). But it is better to use cake flour if you have it.
You will also need what can only be described as a metric ass-ton of red food coloring — although I think you could probably use a little less than I did. I will note that in the recipe below.
Be sure to wear an apron or old clothes. Your kitchen is going to look like you went all Sweeney Todd on your Valentine, and you probably want to avoid getting blood-red batter all over your shirt/jeans/self.
The recipe I used this year has more cocoa in it than I have used before, but the general process didn’t seem much different. This recipe is also very good, although I would suggest using cream cheese frosting regardless. It just doesn’t seem right not to.
I’ll take that over a cheap box of chocolates any day.
I happened to have these red foil cupcake papers, which I think worked out really well. I have a heart-shaped muffin thing, so I made six heart (or sort-of-heart) cupcakes and the rest round. There was just enough frosting to pipe it on top of all 40 cupcakes. But a sprinkle of red sanding sugar or a few hearts on top will make them look special even if you just slather the frosting on with a butter knife (which is what I normally do). Happy Valentine’s Day!
Red velvet cupcakes (Adapted from The New York Times)
3 1/2 cups cake flour (see substitute above if necessary)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
5 (to 6) tablespoons red food coloring
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with papers.
Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt together in a bowl.
Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well blended. Beat eggs in one at a time. With machine on low, add red food coloring very slowly (be careful – it may splash). Add vanilla and mix. Add flour mixture and buttermilk, alternating, in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just to combine.
Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar (it will foam up) and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds to combine.
Pour batter into prepared cupcake tins, filling cups about 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely before frosting.
Cream cheese frosting
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound powdered sugar
Beat butter, cream cheese and vanilla together in a large bowl until creamy. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.