Hey my Valentines! Hope you’re having a happy love day today! This has always been one of my favorite holidays… chocolate, roses, pink & red hearts! In a relationship or not, what’s not to love about that? It’s actually a holiday that just makes me want to bake cupcakes… always been this way for some reason. When I was a teenager I would buy a strawberry cake mix & canned cream cheese frosting (Ugh, even though now cake mixes & especially canned frostings go against everything I believe in. I was young.) and cover them with lots of pretty pink sprinkles. It was my yearly Valentines tradition for a while & it made me happy.
But another cupcake flavor that always seems to make an appearance on February 14th is the southern favorite, Red Velvet! In all honesty, I’ve never been a Red Velvet fan. Most red velvet cakes tend to be dry, crumbly, and lacking in flavor. And then the traditional cooked frosting always tastes like flour to me and I’m not fond of most cream cheese frostings. If I eat red velvet it has to be exceptionally good. And I believe it’s for this reason that I’ve wanted to find the perfect red velvet recipe. Especially in the last few weeks it’s sort of became my quest.
I scoured the internet looking for recipes. I finally found one that I thought looked and sounded amazing. It was this recipe from Rosie over at Sweetapolita. I just planned to make the cake part of it & find a cream cheese frosting to go with it. First let me say, I think this girl is a freakin’ baking genius! I’ve been stalking her blog trying to learn all her baking secrets. My family & I actually made her vanilla cake for my parents vow renewal this past summer and it was one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted.
So I tried this recipe, which calls for red velvet baking emulsion, which I’ve never used before but managed to track down. It’s the color and a flavoring all in one. The cupcakes came out super moist but the emulsion gave the them an almost citrusy flavor that I honestly couldn’t decide if I liked. So I decided to keep on looking and ended up going back to a recipe that I tried about a year ago and really liked. For some reason I had forgotten about this recipe. It’s the from a cookbook I have called “Chocolate Bar”. If you’re looking for a red velvet cake that is moist, flavorful, but still traditional, this is it! In my opinion it meets all the criteria I’m looking for in red velvet.
Oh and the cream cheese frosting… heavenly! I scored big time when I found this recipe. But more about that below!
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting -
(Recipe adapted from "Chocolate Bar" by Matt Lewis and Alison Nelson)
A traditional red velvet that is moist and flavorful! True test is that they honestly even taste good without the frosting… though you’d be crazy not to frost them with this lovely and delish cream cheese frosting.
So I haven’t stopped raving about this frosting since I made it. You HAVE to try it! And I can’t stress that enough. Some people like the traditional cooked frosting, some people like buttercream but now a days cream cheese frosting seems to be the consensus for red velvet. I don’t know about you but every cream cheese frosting I’ve ever made has turned out to be a soupy mess and tends to taste like unbaked cheesecake. This one, because it contains equal amounts of butter and cream cheese turns out fluffy, creamy, and perfectly pipable (Dear spell check, I’m aware that’s not a word but I’m using it anyway)!
And it doesn’t taste like unbaked cheesecake. It tastes like buttercream but with the slight tang of cream cheese. And it’s not toothachly sweet. Oh yes, perfect!
The frosting doesn’t over power these cupcakes but is the perfect compliment! If you’re feeling festive top them off with some sprinkles and leftover conversation hearts.
4 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
1 ounce red food coloring (1 bottle)
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoon shortening at room temp.
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 tablespoon white vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar after reading somewhere that it makes them a little sweeter)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, red food coloring, and 2 tablespoons of boiling water. Set aside to cool.
Sift the flour and salt together. In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk and vanilla together.
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and shortening together on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue beating for approximately 5 minutes until pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs and yolk one at a time, blending well after each addition.
Mix in the cocoa, food coloring, and water mixture just until blended.
Alternately add the flour and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Mix until just combined.
Dissolve the baking soda in the vinegar (the mixture will fizz) and add to the mixer until just combined.
At this point, though it’s not in the original recipe, I added in about 1/4 cup of mayonnaise. I know this may gross some people out but trust me, you can’t taste it whatsoever. It just makes the cupcakes even more moist. Just mix it in till well blended.
Fill cupcake pan and bake for 16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
I’m just going to direct you to Stacy over at The Wicked Kitchen, where I found this amazing frosting. She explains why it works better than I do. Plus she has a lot of killer recipes. Best Ever Cream Cheese Frosting.
Valentines Playlist -
And because this holiday deserves some tunes, here’s a lovey dovey playlist for you!
Also wanted to share a photo of some diy Valentines decorations I made…
Just some simple felt heart and xo garlands hanging in the kitchen. Think it lights a festive air! :)
Okay sweets, hope you’re having a lovely Valentines Day!