real life test kitchen: valentine’s red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Last year, I was very ambitious for Isadora’s birthday, creating rainbow-colored cupcakes for her little friends to enjoy. I realized quickly though, after watching my mini masterpieces get torn apart and destroyed, that kids really don’t care that much about the cake part of cupcakes. Most of them just lick off the frosting and leave the rest the behind. Silly kids! I guess they haven’t yet figured out the Liz Lemon method of making a “sandwich” by tearing a cupcake in two and then squeezing the frosting in the middle. Alas… This year I decided to simplify things and turned to one of my favorite cookbooks, Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That? and created Ina Garten’s famed red velvet cupcakes. The recipe is very basic, with the only exotic ingredients being buttermilk and red food coloring. I suppose I could have gone the healthy route and used some beets to make them red, but, nah! To finish them off, I dusted with red sprinkles and few Valentines-themed hearts. They were yummy but guess what — the kid’s only ate the frosting again. It’s made of butter, cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar. Hard to resist!

Here’s my take on Ina Garten’s Red Velvet Cupcakes

What You Need:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1 tbl liquid red food coloring
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

How To Make

1, Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. It should be bright, Pepto-Bismal pink.

3. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for one minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients alternately in 3 parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mix until combined.

4. Scoop the batter into the muffin cups . Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Cool completely in the pans and frost the cupcakes with frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 & 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Mix cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until combined. Don’t whip!

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