Valentine's Day is coming up quickly--a time of flowers, red tinted everything and sweets. As I pondered what I was going to make my husband of three months and partner of seven years, it seemed like the obvious choice among the New York diet was that of the cupcake. It's a ubiquitous desert that threatens my willpower daily, working just a stones throw from both Cupcake Cafe and Billy's Bakery. My weakness lies in a popular cupcake, the Red Velvet, with its rich color and ridiculous cream cheese icing. I would have married a Red Velvet were it possible for woman and dessert to mate. With its intense red color, it is the perfect sweet for Valentine's. After digging myself out of two feet of snow in PA and returning to NY, I set out to find a recipe.
For a Red Velvet Recipe, there really is only one place to go. If you've ever turned on the Food Network and seen any episode relating to this type of cake, you've heard of Cake Man Raven. This amazing cake maker was born in Harlem but was trained in cakes in South Carolina. I make sure to stop in at his shop in Fort Green, Brooklyn every time I'm down in that area. Despite the rapid gentrification in the neighborhood, his is a no frills shop that reminds me of a suburbs strip mall bakery, not the trendy confectionaries and coffee shops that are so prevalent around it. They have what the hipster coffee joints don't however, case after case of amazing Red Velvet cake slices. He is the go-to man for Red Velvet, and luckily, not stingy with the recipe, as it appears both on his website and has been on Food Network.
His recipe, however, is for a three layer cake. That is hard to enjoy in small portions, and even harder to start giving away after you notice your scale ticking upwards for three days in a row after this cake sits there, begging you to eat it. Cupcakes, I decided, were more manageable and equally delicious. This recipe will make an even dozen, just enough for you and your sweetheart and maybe a friend or two at the office if you're looking to disperse them. If you're planning a Valentine's Day party with more people, the recipe is easily doubled. This makes a little more frosting than you are going to need, but it's so tasty I doubt you or your beloved will mind finding a use for the leftovers.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
Adapted from Cake Man Raven
Ingredients:Vegetable oil for the pans
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
3/4 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon red food coloring (1/2 ounce)
1/2 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting (Recipe Below)Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pan with liners.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.
Fill cupcake papers 2/3 of the way. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out with only a few crumbs attached, rotating the pans halfway through cooking, about 18 to 22 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and remove the cupcakes from the pans. Let cool completely.
Frost the cupcakes.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extractDirections:
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.)
Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally). Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using. May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Okay, so I'm still working on the whole "Pretty Frosting." But look how red they are! And even if the icing isn't spread on the prettiest, it's still amazing and you want to lick it off.