it's birthday weekend around our house for a certain almost 9-year-old (the actual b-day is tomorrow), so i'm working on my second batch of red velvet cupcakes. i made the first batch, thinking the child would want to take some to her saturday and sunday riding lessons, but when it came down to it, she was so afraid they would sing to her or that someone would think she was bringing treats because she fell off the last time (which you must do), she refused to let us take the cupcakes along. in the end, we didn't really mind, because that meant there were more for us.
we had an extensive discussion around here as to the completely wrongheaded labeling of these cupcakes as muffins. that discussion extended to twitter, where it was agreed by those in the know, that these are indeed cupcakes. muffins, in some sense, purport to be healthy, whereas these red velvety little fellas are pure sin and have no redeeming nutritional value. if the frosting has nearly 500grams of butter in it, it's not a muffin. in fact, if it has frosting, in my book, it's not a muffin (a lemony glaze doesn't count as frosting).
now we're making a second batch of them since there are no longer enough left for the child to take to school tomorrow to share with her class. the recipe below makes 40 cupcakes. there are about a dozen left, but there are 20 in her class, so that's not enough. it seems that with teenagers around the house, you can go through a lotta cupcakes.
red velvet cupcakes
3-1/2 cups of flour
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 T red food coloring
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 C buttermilk
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 recipe creamy vanilla frosting (below)
preheat your oven to 175°C/350°F. prepare your muffin tins by lining with cupcake papers.
in a small bowl, sift the flour and baking powder and set aside. in the large bowl of your electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. in a small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, vanilla and cocoa. add to the batter and beat well.
in a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. add to the batter in three parts alternating with the flour. with each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are blended and smooth.
divide the batter among the prepared pans. bake for 15-20 minutes. remove them from the tins and allow them to cool completely before frosting.
creamy vanilla frosting
as i have written on this one, "this frosting is da bizness." i used to use a martha stewart buttercream, but this one just behaves so beautifully and tastes so divine that i use it now for all my cakes. i think i found it originally on epicurious.com, but i'm not actually sure anymore, as it's one of those i've hand-written into a little notebook.
6 T flour
2 C milk
2 C butter, softened
2 C sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
in a medium-sized saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk until smooth. place over medium heat and, while stirring constantly, cook until the mixture becomes thick and begins to bubble (10-15 minutes). cover with waxed paper, placed directly on the surface, and cool to room temperature. this takes about 30 minutes.
using your electric mixer, beat the butter for 3 minutes until it's creamy and smooth. gradually add the sugar, beating continuously until it's fluffy. add the vanilla and beat well.
add the cooled, cooked milk mixture and continue to beat on high speed for 5 minutes, until it's very smooth and noticeably whiter in color. i used organic sugar, which isn't very white and if you whip long enough, it becomes quite white anyway. cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
put it in a piping bag and pipe it onto the well-cooled cupcakes (or use a knife and spread it - i just think it looks prettier if you pipe it on). sprinkle with the sprinkles of your choice.
a note on measurements: we discussed extensively at blog camp the conversion of american cups into grams and vice versa. we have discovered that there are vast differences in the weights of flour especially, so we're going to provide the recipes in their original measurements, rather than doing any conversion. i recommend googling a converter and using your best cooking judgement. that, and get your hands on some US measuring cups. lots of recipes out there use the american measurements, so you won't go wrong owning your own set, no matter where you live. we'll be putting some links to some of the converters we've used along the sidebar, but trust your own good cooking instincts. you surely know your own ingredients best.