I totally meant to post these BEFORE the Army-Navy game. But then I spent a zillion hours baking “Go Navy, Beat Army” cookies, and my oven stopped working and I had to finish baking the cookies in my neighbor’s oven… and then Michael Phelps was swimming about a mile from my house, so obviously we had to go see that.
So I didn’t bake these until about 11 p.m… and I had to use our neighbors’ oven. As quietly as possible.
If you’ve ever made red velvet cake or cupcakes, you know you need a lot of food coloring. But it’s a lot easier to get big bottles of red liquid food coloring than blue. I bought two of those four-packs that come with red, yellow, green and blue, but then I also used some blue gel color (with a bit of water). But you have a couple of options to make them blue, which I will note in the recipe.
Why yes, that IS a skull and crossbones spatula.
Be sure you wear a dark shirt or apron when you’re making the batter. It’s going to look like you murdered a Smurf in your kitchen, and while the blue will eventually come off your fingers, I don’t think it will come off your clothes.
You know how some blue food tastes blue? For example, a blue Icee doesn’t really taste like raspberry. It’s delicious, but it just tastes blue. And Cold Stone cotton candy ice cream — also delicious, but tastes like blue cotton candy. These cupcakes are different. They’re delicious, of course, and they look blue. But they taste like not-too-chocolatey red velvet.
Of course, you need frosting, too. Cream cheese frosting. I used a pastry bag with the biggest star-shaped tip I could find. Then I started in the center, spiraling the frosting around in a circle, then swirled it back in to the center for a cute little star thingy on top.
You may recall that I have two red velvet recipes on the blog already. But I think this is my favorite. The cupcakes aren’t too dense or too sweet, they have a little chocolate but aren’t super chocolatey, and everyone at the tailgate loved them.
And did I mention Navy won? That’s a decade of dominance, y’all. Fear the goat.
Blue velvet cupcakes (Adapted from the New York Times, makes about 3 dozen cupcakes)
3 1/2 cups cake flour* (don’t use self-rising)
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons (2 small bottles) blue liquid food coloring plus 1 tablespoon blue gel food coloring (royal blue, sapphire or a mix of regular blue and navy blue)
OR 2 tablespoons blue gel food coloring and a few drops water
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Optional: 1-2 drops violet food coloring (Will take away green-ish hue)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin cups with cupcake papers.
Sift the cake flour into a small bowl. In another (large) bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir the blue food coloring together with the cocoa and vanilla. Add a little water if necessary (to make a paste and/or to get it out of the cup). Add to the batter and mix well. Add more food coloring if necessary (this would be the time to add a drop or two of purple/violet if the batter looks too greenish, and keep in mind that the cupcakes will be a darker blue than the batter).
In another small bowl or measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts, alternating with the flour. Beat after each addition until the ingredients are incorporated, but don’t overmix.
Stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda in a small bowl — it will fizz up. Add mixture to the batter and mix well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and make sure everything is well combined and the batter is smooth.
Spoon the batter into the cupcake papers, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake cupcakes about 20 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove (carefully) and allow to cool completely before icing.
*I ran out of cake flour, so I put 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in my 1-cup dry measuring cup and then filled the rest with all-purpose flour three times (for 3 cups) then put 1 tablespoon of corn starch in a 1/2-cup measure and filled the rest of that with all-purpose flour.
Cream cheese frosting (I needed another half recipe of this using the frosting method I described above, but this is probably enough for just spreading some on top of each cupcake with a knife)
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.