When I got Ina Garten's latest cookbook, "How easy is that?" the first recipe that grabbed my attention was her Red Velvet Cupcakes. This weekend was the right time to make them because I had the perfect decorations - dark chocolate hearts! We have a chocolatier who visits our office building at holidays and when I saw these hearts last week, I knew I had to get them for the cupcakes.
The cupcakes not only look good, but they taste great too - this recipe is definitely a keeper!
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1 tbsp liquid red food colouring (or enough red gel paste until the colour is right!)
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted, softened butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 extra large eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Ina states the recipe will yield 15 large cupcakes, but I got 16 out of the batter, without having to scrape out the bowl.
In a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Now normally I cop out and just whisk all the dry ingredients together, but when using cocoa powder I do use a sifter. Cocoa powder always seems to have lumps so it's essential to sift it before mixing. In a large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, food colouring, vinegar and vanilla with a whisk to make sure the food colour is blended well. For anyone wondering, "butter"milk is not fattening - it only has a 1% fat content.
In the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed for 1 minute until light. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and wet alternately in three parts (dry, wet, dry) and mix until well combined. Scrape the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is mixed.
Scoop the batter into the muffin cups using a 2-1/4 inch sized ice cream scoop. Bake for 25 minutes. My oven is quite hot, so they only needed 22 minutes, so the baking time should be adjusted.
I did not make frosting from scratch, but used a can of cream cheese frosting and didn't get any complaints! Added the chocolate hearts and they were another tasty tribute to St. Valentine. :)