Red Velvet Cupcakes with Luscious Cream Cheese Frosting

So I was on my way to dinner at a friend’s house and bringing dessert one Thursday, now this sounds easy but when you have the shelf of cookbooks that I have you start to panic, sweat dripping hands shaking panic, what to choose to make a wow impression. So many choices, do I go with classic never-fail-chocolate chip cookies or do I instead try the ultrachic never tried hazelnut chocolate tart (which I don’t even have a pan for)? Obviously, I went for some middle ground cake which was a familiar and easy to adapt thing but something I had never tried yet to make, the Red-Velvet variety.

This cake was finicky and at times over-complex, but its complexity has made it increasingly more delightful to my remembrances. This was a cake recipe that SassyRadish tried to very happy campers (mainly an adorable 4-year-old she had photographed eating the cupcake with a HUGE smile). I showed up to my friend’s apartment with 12 of these cupcakes in a records box (I work a full time records management job) and she was enchanted. They were a little richer that I would like, maybe a little lighter on the zest next time and the frosting was decadent and delicious, the boyfriend and I were eating it by the spoonful instead of getting it on the cupcakes, which to be fair was just as reasonable as using it to frost anything, because let’s face it give me cream cheese in anything and I’ll eat it. Yup. I’m a sucker for that deliciousness. But just for fun, here’s the cake!


Red-Velvet Cake with Orange Zest and Cream Cheese Frosting!
Tweaked slightly from SassyRadish
Note: This makes 18 cupcakes, which I got in the form of 12 “Perfect-Prom-Queen Cupcakes” and 6 “Deformed-Cupcake-Cousins”

The Cake!
2 ½ cups sifted All Purpose Flour, plus some to grease and flour the pans
2 tsp salt
2 tsp Baking Powder
¼ tsp Baking Soda
¼ cup Cocoa Powder
2 Tbsp Liquid Red Food Coloring (or ¾ Tbsp or gel coloring and 1 ¼ Tbs Water)
1 ½ Tbsp Water
1 Cup unsalted butter, softened to room temp (70 degrees)
2 Cups Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1 ½ tsp Natural Vanilla Extract
1 ½ tsp Orange Zest (I used a Blood Orange and it was quite strong, the zest can also be entirely left out if you are not of the fruity baked goods type)
1 Cup Buttermilk

The Frosting!

¾ Cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
½ Tsp Natural Vanilla Extract
1 Pound Cream Cheese (2 Packages) Softened
2 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar (use more if you like sweeter frosting)
2 Tbsp Milk, if it is too thick

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter/flour/line a cupcake tin.

2. Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, salt, Baking Powder, Baking Soda). Twice.

3. In a small (dark) bowl mix together the cocoa powder, red food coloring and water until it becomes a smooth paste. This will dye anything you are wearing/making it in/stirring with/your fingers, so be careful and aware of this!

4. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter until smooth (30 seconds or so depending on butter softness) then gradually add the sugar ¼ cup at a time scraping down the bowl between additions. After the final addition of sugar beat this mixture until it is light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add the eggs one by one following the same process as before, add/mix/scrape/add. After the eggs add the vanilla and then orange zest beating until mixed evenly with both (15 seconds or so). Add the red cocoa paste and mix it in until everything is an even color (it should look quite red at this point).

5. Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar/eggs in thirds alternating it with the buttermilk and scraping the bowl each time. This is easier to do by hand with a rubber scraper. Make sure to not over mix your batter, over mixed batter leads to flour where gluten tightens and cake becomes too firm (i. e. gross). Once the buttermilk/dry ingredients have been added to the batter give the whole mixture 3-5 good stirs to ensure even incorporation.

6. Distribute the batter into the cupcake pan until the liners are 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full. Bake the cupcakes until a cake tester (toothpick) inserted come out clean, 18-20 minutes.

7. After pulling the cupcakes from the oven let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes (until you can handle them) then transfer them to a cooling rack.

The Frosting!

1. In a large bowl beat the butter, vanilla, and cream cheese until light and fluffy (1-2 minutes). Add the confectioner’s sugar ½ cup at a time until your frosting has reached the desired sweetness (I recommend no more than 3 cups of sugar). If you think the frosting is too stiff to manipulate add the milk to loosen it up.

Frost all the cooled cupcakes and serve on platter, with napkins!

These cupcakes should store for one day at room temperature and a couple of days in the fridge (they were gone before they became old enough to set up an accurate timeline!).

2 thoughts on “Red Velvet Cupcakes with Luscious Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. there is NOTHING i love more than a good cream cheese frosting – i honestly don't think i've ever tried a red velvet cake before though! i might have to now. 🙂

    also, this line: 12 "Perfect-Prom-Queen Cupcakes" and 6 "Deformed-Cupcake-Cousins" MADE. MY. DAY.

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