Red Velvet Cupcakes

theparsthief-redvelvet-1This week’s recipe is brought to you by The Parsley Thief, a great Valentine’s day holiday classic — Red Velvet Cupcakes. Give the gift that really screams “I love you!” yummy sugary treats!
Red Velvet Cupcakes
When my son, who turned 11 years old last week, specifically requested “Red Velvet Cupcakes” when I offered to bring a treat into his classroom, I was quite surprised. For one, neither of my boys are big “cake” kids {weirdos, I know} and secondly, I don’t remember my son ever having a red velvet cupcake before. But he must have gotten it in his head from somewhere, because he was very clear about it. Even requesting the cream cheese frosting that traditionally tops them.
Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf and Brown Eyed Baker
These are not only the best Red Velvet Cupcakes I’ve ever tasted, but they could easily sit atop my list of the best cupcakes I’ve ever tasted. I love the Hummingbird Bakery’s method of adding the cocoa powder to the batter {instead of the traditional red food coloring only}, because not only does it give the cupcakes a half-vanilla half-chocolate flavor, but it also gives them the prettiest deep burgundy color. However, what makes these truly over the top is the cream cheese frosting recipe, by the Brown Eyed Baker — which is easily the best I’ve tasted. I was hesitant to use a whole tablespoon of vanilla extract in the frosting, but I was so glad I did! The result is a perfectly balanced, sweet vanilla frosting that I’m fairly certain will have everyone who tastes these begging you for the recipe.
ingredients for the cupcakes:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
4 tablespoons {1/2 stick} unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
ingredients for the frosting:
4 ounces {1 stick} unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 to 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
clear sanding sugar and white nonpareils for decorating {optional}
Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a standard size muffin pan with paper liners. Prepare the dry ingredients by whisking together the flour and salt in a mixing bowl, and setting it aside.
In a separate small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food coloring, vanilla extract, and water with a small spatula, or the back of a spoon until evenly combined into a slurry-like thin paste. Set aside.
Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand-mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the egg, and continue beating until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the cocoa powder/food coloring mixture to the mixer, and beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until evenly distributed into the batter.
Add half of the buttermilk, followed by half of the flour/salt mixture, beating and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Repeat with the remaining buttermilk and dry ingredients, and beat until smooth. Add the baking soda and white vinegar, and beat once more until smooth.
Divide the batter between the 12 liners {they should be about 3/4 full} and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, remove the cupcakes from the pan and place them on the wire rack to cool completely.
Add the butter and cream cheese to the bowl of a stand-mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to low and add the powdered sugar, a cup or so at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. Add a 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of vanilla {depending on how vanilla flavored you’d like your frosting to be}, and beat on high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy, about a minute or two longer. Frost the cupcakes and decorate by sprinkling the tops with the sanding sugar and nonpareils, if desired. Enjoy!