Tuesday, January 19, 2010

red velvet cupcakes


Cole's Kitch turns 1 today. It has been exactly one year since
my very first post!

I decided to celebrate the 1-year anniversary of my semi-obsession with all things food and cooking, I would make something that is 1) special that 2) I have not made before. Upon further reflection, a third requirement emerged: it needs to be something I can stick a candle in.

Enter cupcakes.

I have never made a cupcake before. I mean a really made a cupcake - from ingredients like flour and sugar and butter (rather than box + egg + oil). Obviously, that needs to change. Those who know me know I've been slightly obsessed with red velvet cupcakes ever since eating my first one at Sprinkles last year.

Bear with me through a slight aside: The great debate - Sprinkles vs. Magnolia. Or in other words, west vs. east coast cupcakeries. I had my first Sprinkles cupcake (west coast) approximately a year ago, after the store at Stanford Shopping Center opened. JR wouldn't stand in the hour plus line with me, but Marika did. That is where I fell in love with red velvet. A beautiful blushing cupcake with dense, buttery cream cheese frosting. I've eaten many of them (way too many) since.

Last fall, when JR and I were in NYC, I sought out a Magnolia bakery (east coast) to test out their goods. I figured, for the test to be fair (an "apples to apples" comparison), I'd have to go with red velvet. My first bite revealed, that (gasp) it was frosted with...buttercream? Where, or where was the cream cheese? Completely lacking, in my opinion.

Now, Marika (east coast native, so obviously biased) swears that the vanilla cupcake is where Magnolia is on top. I have my doubts. I prefer Sprinkles. Or rather, I did until yesterday. When I made my own. I tried to find the Sprinkles recipe online, but was unsuccessful. Instead, I paired a modified version of Martha Stewart's red velvet cupcake recipe with the Sprinkle's frosting recipe. The result? Magic. Here's what I did:

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Makes 24 beautiful little cakes

2 1/2 c. cake flour (not self rising)
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs at room temperature
4 Tbsp. red food coloring
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. distilled white or apple cider vinegar

Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, cold
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together cake flour, cocoa, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter with an electric mixer on medium-high until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Mix in food color and vanilla.

Reduce speed to low. Add flour mix in 3 batches, alternating with 2 additions of buttermilk, whisking well after each. Stir baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to batter and mix on medium speed 10 seconds.

Divide batter among lined cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake 18 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before removing cupcakes.

Make frosting by mixing together ingredients with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes. Try not to eat them all in one sitting!

Oh, and happy birthday to Cole's Kitch!

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