Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Valentine's Dessert, Part 1

I remember the first time I had red velvet cake. I was at a neighbor's house. I was probably ten or twelve, old enough at least to know what happened when you added red food coloring to something. I had seen a lot of the pink sugar cookie dough and pink frosted cupcakes, but I had never seen a red cake before. When I asked my neighbor how she made this delightfully red concoction, she pointed to the three empty bottles of red food coloring on her counter.

I, I am proud to say, only used one and a half bottles of red food coloring in my red velvet cake. Or maybe I only made half as much cake...

In either case, these were the perfect Valentine's Day treat for our ladies' movie night this past weekend. What better way to relax and watch a movie than with a glass of wine in one hand, and a cute little cupcake in the other?

This was the first time I had attempted a red velvet cake, and I was quite pleased with it. I'm not sure yet if it is the best possible red velvet cake recipe, but it was definitely good! I used a good old Southern recipe that a friend of mine gave me, but substituted butter for the shortening. For the frosting, I made a cream cheese frosting, and added a pinch of cinnamon, an idea I found on another blog.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1.5 oz red food coloring (about 4 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup sugar
8 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour, sifted 2-3 times
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Combine the cocoa powder, food coloring, and vanilla in a small bowl. Mix until smooth
2. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Stir in the cocoa powder mixture.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour and salt. Add the flour and buttermilk alternately to the creamed mixture, mixing well between each addition.
4. In a small bowl, mix together the baking soda and vinegar. Mix into batter. (Note: I'm not sure if this step was added to make the baking soda react faster, or just because it was fun. Feel free to do it for either reason ;).)
5. Pour mixture into lined muffin cups. The recipe says it makes 24-- I got 18, but that's probably because I always fill mine too full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 cups of powdered sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
pinch of cinnamon

1. Beat butter and sugar together until well combined. Add cream cheese and cinnamon and beat until frosting is at your desired consistency.
2. Place frosting into a pastry bag (or a ziploc bag with the bottom corner cut off--my method), and pipe frosting onto cupcakes. This made more than enough for my 18 cupcakes, and I like frosting!

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