Red Velvet Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

When I think red velvet, I think Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara—sitting in a grand dining hall, dressed in ball gowns AND eating red velvet cake. Well, Rhett wouldn’t have worn a dress, but they could have eaten cupcakes.

For my first experience with this cake, I have to admit slight disappointment. At least I can cross it off my list of “Must Try” foods. Without the frosting, all I taste is a cavity waiting to happen. Taste aside, however, as a cake or cupcake, they’re absolutely gorgeous, like seriously stunning. The deep, intense red is so sexy. I loooove it!

So I followed the recipe exactly, except for the frosting, to which I added a cup of coconut flakes—because coconut makes everything taste better. This makes 24 cupcakes, but I halved the amounts and just made 12.

Enjoy!

Red Velvet Cupcakes (ever so slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated via Gonna Want Seconds)

printable recipe

Makes 24 cupcakes or two 9-inch cake layers

INGREDIENTS

Cake

2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of table salt

1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup whole or reduced-fat milk plus 1 tbsp lemon juice (let sit for at least 10 min.)

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder

1-1 ounce bottle red food coloring

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

4 cups (16 ounces) confectioner’s sugar

16 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into 8 pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

pinch of table salt

1 cup dried, unsweetened grated coconut, optional

METHOD

Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans or line cupcake pans with liners.
  2. In a medium bowl mix flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. In another bowl add buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla and eggs and whisk to combine.
  4. Sift cocoa into a small bowl the mix with food coloring until it forms a paste.
  5. Beat butter and sugar together, in a standing mixer, set on medium, for 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl.
  6. Add 1/3 of flour mixture and and beat on medium speed just until it’s incorporated. Add 1/2 the buttermilk mixture and beat on low until combined.  Scrape down the bowl. Add 1/3 of flour mixture and beat on medium until incorporate. Add the rest of buttermilk mixture beat on low until combine. Add last 1/3 of flour mixture and beat on medium until just combined.  Scrape down the bowl.
  7. Add the cocoa paste mixture and beat on medium until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and make sure the bottom of the batter is incorporating as well. Give the batter a final good stir with a rubber spoonula to mix completely and pour into prepared pans.
  8. Bake cake/cupcakes in preheated oven about 25 minutes for cake and 20 minutes for cupcakes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (18 would’ve sufficed for me.) Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

Frosting

  1. In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, 1 piece at a time, and beat until incorporate. Beat in vanilla, salt and if using, grated coconut. Spread or pipe on completely cooled cakes/cupcakes.

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