Over the weekend my dear friend Lauren Fowler had a beautiful birthday picnic in Kalk Bay. I decided to celebrate her special day with the exploration of Red Velvet Cupcakes. Though not as red as I had hoped, the cupcakes were both delicious and beautifully textured. I am going to try to find a recipe resulting in more red and less brown baked goods, but in the mean time this recipe is well worth the effort and produces beautiful cocoa cupcakes that are not too sweet, and the perfect balance between moist and dry.
To make one batch of cupcakes with cream cheese frosting you will need:
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened (preferably light and unprocessed) cocoa powder
125ml beet juice
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
225g unsalted butter
350g marscapone/cream cheese
3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste.
1 tsp vanilla extract
2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a smaller bowl, mix the beetroot juice and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (about three minutes) Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as you go. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
4. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Be careful as it will fizz so don’t do it in too shallow a bowl. Add vinegar mixture to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Fill cupcake cups with cake batter until they are a little under 3/4 full. Place muffin tins in your preheated oven. Bake for approximately 20 minutes rotating pans halfway through if your oven tends to cook unevenly. The cupcakes are done when you are able to pat the tops and the cake springs back up. If it sinks down they are not yet complete. Or you can insert a toothpick into the center of a cupcake in the center of the tin and if it comes out clean they are done!
5.Mix the icing while the cupcakes are baking.
Icing: In a mixing bowl, mix butter on medium speed until light and creamy. Add cream cheese and mix until fluffy. Slowly add the sugar, one cup at a time. Continue to mix. Finally, add the vanilla extract to the mixture ( you may add less or none if you want it to be all maple and cinnamon and nutmeg) and add maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Mix until it has a creamy consistency.
6. Cool the cupcakes in their tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool completely before frosting.
8. Share with all your friends. If you don’t manage to eat them all yourself, pop some in a plastic box and give some to the lovely people selling the Big Issue at the traffic lights – their smiles are much better than cupcake glutton guilt.