The last time we were here talking about churros, I called them one of my "fantasy foods". That would be something I might talk about or see a lot but, in reality, have never had or have rarely eaten. There are a lot of things on my "fantasy foods" list and some of them are very basic, like red velvet cupcakes.
|A small batch recipe of 4 red velvet chocolate chip cupcakes with classic cream cheese frosting|
And when it comes to cupcakes, I may find myself at a bakery admiring an array of them but for the most part, I'm there for the visuals. I love the look of cupcakes - the pouf of frosting, the colors, the sprinkles. I'll ogle them all and then walk away (that doesn't sound like fun, I know), or end up predictably asking for the "chocolate cupcake with ganache frosting, please".
Yes, I live a sheltered life because I can't even recall the last time I had a taste of classic red velvet cupcakes! Maybe I shouldn't admit to this level of dessert ignorance but it is what it is. I got to thinking about this whole cupcake situation and red velvet in particular at my niece's birthday gathering recently. My sister had a dozen beautiful-looking cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes and I was looking at all the flavors and eyeing the one red velvet my sister had selected for herself. There's just something romantic about it and I was thinking I needed to sit down and enjoy a red velvet cupcake for a change.
And lucky for me, I found the perfect way to try it with this baby batch of red velvet cupcakes with classic cream cheese frosting. This recipe comes from Dessert For Two, a book that is right up my alley. I love baking in small batches so I can do it more often for my small family. I was really lucky to spot this wonderful cookbook recently and just a quick look revealed at least half a dozen recipes I wanted to bake right away. This is the first of that endeavor, a recipe that makes 4 red velvet cupcakes.
I'll admit this recipe appealed to me also because of a twist - the suggestion of chocolate chips in the red velvet cake! Sure...maybe I should've stuck with tradition and skipped the chocolate but a girl has to stay true to her heart. This red velvet cupcake with miniature chocolate chips is a good compromise for me. (Please humor me...)
I did very nearly turn these red velvet cupcakes into chocolate cupcakes. Maybe I did want to swap that classic cream cheese frosting with chocolate ganache frosting (my little guy suggested the same) but I managed to stay the course! I'm not a big fan of buttercream frosting but I can't complain about how easy the cream cheese frosting was to make, how luscious it was to pipe out, and how pretty it looks on top of that red-hued cake.
I'm all about the cake and this is one good cake. The tang is a nice theme that runs throughout the red velvet cupcake. I can say that even without chocolate chips, the red velvet cake here was totally delicious on its own. I could taste a hint of cocoa against the slightly tangy cake. It was moist and tender - super tasty!
My husband knows how to appreciate a classic. He'd have been very happy with plain red velvet - sans chocolate chips - and the tangy cream cheese frosting. Me, I'll take chocolate chips in my cake any day! But you really can't lose either way, whether you choose to include the chocolate or not.
In case anyone wants my testimonial, making 4 cupcakes is such a breeze! Cupcake-making can feel like a project to me - what with scooping the batter into their cups, making the frosting, then decorating each individually.
When I made these four, I was done before I knew it. I don't have a hand mixer so I simply used a whisk to make the cupcake batter and the stand mixer to whip up the frosting. The little batch of cupcakes do disappear as fast as you can make them but for me, there's satisfaction in that. I know I'll be back in the kitchen whipping up something else up again and that's just what I want to do.
We probably don't make or eat red velvet cake very often due to large part to that red food coloring we have to use. For what it's worth, I used just 2 drops of red gel paste food coloring, which is what I already had on hand and is a lot more intense than the liquid kind. Food coloring isn't something I'd want to use often but sometimes you just have to.
The oil in these cupcakes kept them so moist. And there is definitely a wonderful alchemy in the combination of buttermilk, vinegar, and cocoa that makes for a delicious result.
As for the classic cream cheese frosting - it's easy to make and so smooth, creamy, and tangy. I took out my Wilton 1M pastry tip again and had a little practice piping out the frosting on the cupcakes. The recipe makes enough to frost these 4 cupcakes generously.
I feel like I can talk about red velvet cupcakes with a little more understanding now. I'll have to think about what other "fantasy foods" I need to tackle next...
Update (November 2015): The last time I made these cupcakes, my little guy was talking about how great they would be with chocolate frosting instead of cream cheese. We're all about the chocolate at my house! Well, I know it isn't usually done, but why not? So I recently made a batch of these cupcakes with some chocolate ganache frosting (below). I can tell you they were very popular!
Red Velvet (Chocolate Chip) Cupcakes
From Dessert For Two
- A small batch recipe that makes 4 cupcakes -
1/4 cup (60ml) canola oil
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon red food coloring (I used 2 drops of red gel paste food coloring)
1/8 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (47.5 grams) all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
For cream cheese frosting:
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (39 grams) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon buttermilk (I used milk)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in 4 cups along the edge of a a standard muffin pan.
In a medium-size bowl, whisk together (you could also use an electric mixer on medium speed) the oil, sugar, buttermilk, egg white, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder to combine.
Add dry ingredients to the wet and gently stir together with a rubber spatula. Add chocolate chips, if using, and stir until just incorporated.
Divide batter among the 4 prepared muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing cupcakes from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Make frosting: Using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat all the frosting ingredients until smooth. Frost the cupcakes, as desired. I transferred the frosting to a piping bag and used Wilton's 1M pastry tip to apply the frosting.