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Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes

Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes
One of the most common requests I get when asked to bake something is for red velvet cupcakes (the others are for “anything chocolate” or “those really good cookies that you made that one time”). I also find that people often ask me how to make red velvet cupcakes turn out well, as they seem to be a stumbling block for many bakers. So, I wanted to make sure that I have a reliable Classic Red Velvet Cupcake recipe up for everyone to try.

Red velvet cupcakes get their name from their color, which is a bright red that makes them stand out in any bakery. A basic red velvet cake is a buttermilk cake that has a hint of cocoa powder and a generous dose of red food coloring in it. In theory, cocoa-kissed cakes will take on a reddish hue due to the interaction of cocoa powder and buttermilk, but the reality is that only red food coloring is going to produce the extremely vibrant shade that most of us associate with red velvet cake (there are natural dyes available – I prefer gel dyes). A good red velvet cake should have a nice buttermilk flavor, a bit of vanilla and slight hint of cocoa to it – and it should be topped with cream cheese frosting.

These Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes are very moist and fluffy, with a light and soft crumb that almost melts in your mouth. They have the buttermilk-with-a-hint-of-cocoa flavor that you want to find in a red velvet cake, and are a very bright shade of red. The cream cheese frosting is rich and sweet, with a hint of tang from the cheese, and it really compliments the flavor of the cupcake well. These cupcakes keep well when stored in an airtight container for a few days, but they rarely last more than one or two days if you have a couple of volunteers around to help you eat them.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 tsp red food coloring (or smaller amount gel food coloring)
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and sandy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract. Sift in the cocoa powder, add in red food coloring and stir everything until well combined.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually incorporate one third of the flour mixture followed by half of the buttermilk. Add another third of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining buttermilk and the last of the flour. Mix just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar

In a large bowl, beat all ingredients except the confectioners’ sugar. Gradually blend in the sugar until the icing is smooth and creamy. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

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  • Maryams pastry
    August 27, 2012

    Red velvet cupcakes, can’t get bored of those!
    perhaps the reason i forgot how to make a good red velvet cupcake is for me to try those.
    Will try them soon!

  • Stephanie P.
    August 27, 2012

    A lot of people snub their noses at red velvet because of the food coloring, but because I’m not huge on chocolate these are the perfect flavor for me. Cream cheese frosting doesn’t suck either!

    Thanks for the recipe.

  • Annie @ Annie's Noms
    August 28, 2012

    I still haven’t got round to making Red Velvet cupcakes! They aren’t as popular in the UK, but I’ve seen so many recipes, this one looks delicious and I really am going to have to give in and try a red velvet cupcakes 🙂

  • BakingTray
    August 29, 2012

    I made a red velvet cake recently and have made cupcake version before ^^ My favourite part is definitely the cream cheese frosting! I could eat a whole bowl! However, in all my attempts I have never achieved the bright red colour :/ I used red food colouring but maybe I will find some gel as you suggested.. thanks for the post 🙂

  • There are lot of fancy cupcake recipes on the internet but classic Red Velvet is one in the million 🙂

  • Carley
    February 14, 2013

    Made these for Valentines Day. Doubled the recipe so I could bring some to work. Unfortunately had only one cup of white sugar, so had to use one cup of brown. Even so…

    THE BEST Red Velvet cupcakes I’ve ever had. I’m a legend at work now.


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