Joy the Baker

Red Velvet Christmas Cupcakes

December 21, 2011

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Dear Santa,

Let’s have some real talk.  If you’ve been listening to my podcast you know all about what I want for Christmas.  You’ve heard me blabber on and on about glitter nail polish, sequin tops, Tina Fey, and bourbon.  Yes… I want Tina Fey for Christmas.

Actually though… I want none of these things.  Well, except chocolate.  Did I mention chocolate?  I could also use a generous dose of patience, a few more hours in the day, and enough energy to never have to sleep.  Basically I want you to turn me into a patient and kind superhero… and I want to keep my glasses.  They make me look smarter (and see better).

As a trade for such gifts, I offer you these cupcakes.  I’ve fashioned them into a haphazard Christmas tree (or pointed arrow… whatever) in an effort to please you.

Please say it works!

Sweet…

Joy

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These cupcakes were the first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning at 6:51am.  By 9:04 they were being baked.  Forty minutes later they were being frosted.

Sometimes the morning just required cupcakes.

Like sometimes the morning requires fried chicken… I dunno.  Inexplicable.

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Oh.  There’s a thing you should know about Red Velvet Cupcakes.  Red dye.

If you sneak off to eat a cupcakes worth of batter… you’ll have a stained red mouth when you’re trying to deny licking the beaters.  Not slick.

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Silky smooth Cream Cheese Frosting is the perfect topping to these simple red cupcakes.

I tinted some frosting green for some extra holiday spirit.  It’s probably what Santa would be down with.

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Please consider these to be super simple holiday cupcakes.  They’re no fuss.  They’re not demanding.  They’re simple little darlings.  They’re super heros.

The red velvet cake  is moist and perfectly proportioned.  That means it’s not too light and not too dense.  Red food coloring is the key to the color of these cupcakes, but cocoa adds a lovely kick of flavor.  Vinegar is important too.  It makes the red redder and helps to activate the baking soda.  If you don’t have white vinegar… you can totally use apple cider vinegar too.  No fuss.  Let’s keep it simple.

Cream Cheese frosting?  Be proud and pile it high!  This frosting is speckled with vanilla beans and tinted with green dye.  Sure… I also went a little nutso with the yellow sprinkles.  No biggie.

Enjoy the holiday with some simple little cakes.

Red Velvet Christmas Cupcakes

makes 2 dozen cupcakes

Print this Recipe!

For the Cupcakes:

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 1/2 tablespoons red food coloring

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup milk (I used 2 percent milk)

2 teaspoons white vinegar

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 (4-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, or scrapings of 1 vanilla bean

1 tablespoon milk

3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

green food coloring

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two muffin pans with cupcake papers and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together vanilla extract, food coloring, and  cocoa power.  The mixture will become a thick paste.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together butter and brown sugar.  Beat on medium speed until slightly more pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute between each addition.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Beat in the red cocoa paste.  Incorporate well, beating on medium-high speed.

Add half of the flour mixture.  Beat batter on low speed while adding half of the milk.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.  Add the remaining flour and beat on low speed while adding the remaining milk.

Add the vinegar.  Beat well.

Divide the batter between the 24 cupcake tins.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a cake skewer inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool completely.  Cupcakes should be completely cooled before frosting.  While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting.

To make the Frosting:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, add softened cream cheese.  Beat on medium speed until cream cheese is extra soft and pliable, about 1 minute.

Add softened butter and continue to beat on medium-low speed until butter and cream cheese are thoroughly combined.  Add 2 cups of powdered sugar, vanilla extract or beans, and milk.  Beat of medium speed until well incorporated.  Add remaining powdered sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy.

Add more powdered sugar or milk depending on your desired consistency.

Remove about 1/4 of the frosting and place in a small bowl.  That’s the frosting that will stay white.  Add several drops of green food coloring to the majority of the frosting.

Place frosting in the fridge for an hour before frosting if you’d like to firm it up a bit before frosting cupcakes.

Frost cupcakes by piping with a pastry bag, or by spooning a big dollop of frosting onto the top of the cupcake and spreading evenly.  Top with sprinkles and arrange like a christmas tree if you’d like.

Cupcakes will last, well wrapped in the refrigerator, for up to three days.


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