Saturday, November 7, 2009

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Spiderwebs

So, these little beauties are why I had the buttermilk. I know that many people think of Red Velvet for Valentine's Day and Wedding cakes, but who doesn't want a fantastic "blood" cupcake on Halloween, eh? So I started with a recipe from Paula Deen, the queen of southern cooking that she is, and then compared it to some others. I have to admit I was quite reluctant when it came to the amount of oil in the recipe. It seemed like alot, and some recipes use oil and some butter. Never having made a cake from scratch before, I wasn't sure which works better, or why you'd choose one over the other. But, Paula Deen and Martha Stewart say oil, and if Deb uses oil, well then who am I to argue. ;)

Red Velvet Cupcakes
adapted from Paula Deen and Martha Stewart

2 1/2 c. all-pupose flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 teaspoon salt
 2 tbls. cocoa powder (I used heaping tablespoons)
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
 2 large eggs, room temperature
1 c. buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
2 tbls. red food coloring or 1/2 tsp. red gel-paste food color

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. Whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat together sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in food color and vanilla. 
3. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each.
4. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed 10 seconds.
5. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.
Yield 24 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting
from Paula Deen-this is her recipe halved! It's plenty to frost 24 cupcakes

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners sugar

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Add the sugar on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until very light and fluffy.

Chocolate Spider Webs

I saw these in Country Living and had to make the toppers. I used Baker's semi-sweet chocolate baking squares rather than chocolate chips because I liked how well they melted for the cheesecake. Here is the template: Itsy Bitsy Spiderwebs

These were delicious. Even though they ended up being more of a burgundy velvet than red velvet.  I had what I thought was red gel, but when added it gave more of a hot pink color, so I added several drops of red liquid food coloring to "fix" it. It was still not red. The gel looked red, and the bottle and cap were red, but the box did read "pink." I decided to use it anyway mostly because I had already bought it. Next time I don't think I will be as generous with the cocoa powder (Ms. Deen's recipe only calls for a teaspoon) for less of a chocolate taste, and I'll stick to the liquid food coloring, or look for actual red gel. The toppers turned out pretty awesome too. I'll have to remember this for future events, and with all of the colored chocolate available for candy making you could really make anything you want.

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