I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who didn’t love red velvet. A moist, tender cupcake with that beautiful red color and sweet, tangy cream cheese frosting…if you guessed that I’m eating one as a write this, you’d be right! #sweettoothproblem
These cupcakes are great for Valentine’s day, Christmas time, or anytime, but since Valentine’s day is right around the corner I figured it would be the perfect time to bake this ever so popular cupcake.
As if Red Velvet wasn’t good enough on it’s own, I did something a little extra special with these to put them over the top: these cupcakes have a cream cheese frosting center!
Have you ever tried to bake red velvet cupcakes at home? It’s really much easier than you’d think. I have to admit there are a couple of ingredients that may through you through a loop → apple cider vinegar in cupcakes? Yes. Red Velvet bakery emulsion? Yep. I’ll explain more below.
When it comes to cupcakes I like a moist fluffy texture, buttery rich flavor, and of course lots and lots of frosting. And homemade frosting is so much better than store bought and it’s so easy to make. Although this recipe makes between 24-30 cupcakes – they will go so quickly.
So let me break down exactly what I did, and what special ingredients I used, to get these unbelievable, extra special red velvet cupcakes.
Let’s start with the wet ingredients. You’ll need 12 tablespoons of unsalted butter at room temperature. It’s really important to use butter that’s softened because it mixes better and helps all the ingredients get fully incorporated together. We want our cupcakes to be consistent and this tip will get us there. Now your going to cream your butter and sugar together as usual, but to get ultra fluffy cupcakes your going to want to cream the butter and sugar together for at least 4 or 5 minutes. Now 4 or 5 minutes may seem like a lot while your standing there mixing the butter and sugar together (especially if your using a hand mixer) but the outcome is worth. Mixing for a longer period of time will result in air pockets throughout the butter/sugar mixture which will give us that airy, fluffy cupcake texture we want.
Eggs: Since our butter is room temperature our eggs should be room temperature too. This can be easily achieved by just placing the eggs in a cup and filling it with luke warm water – you’ll have room temperature eggs in about 5 minutes. You’ll notice that room temperature eggs mix into the batter so much better than eggs straight out of the refrigerator.
Extracts: I’m sure you are familiar with vanilla extract, it’s used in so many baking recipes. I highly recommend using a good quality pure vanilla extract. Imitation is okay…but pure vanilla extract is best. I also used something different called Red Velvet Bakery Emulsion. I have never used it before but I will tell you that I loved it! It’s an oil with red coloring and extra flavoring – specifically for red velvet. I used 3 tablespoons of this instead of red food coloring and I was very pleased with the results. I found this little bottle at Michaels but you can also find it here. If you opt not to get this speciality item, just simply use 3-4 tablespoons of no taste red food coloring, your results will be the same.
Flour: I finally got around to using cake flour. I like cake flour better for cupcakes because it aids in that tender-cake like texture. As you can see when it comes to baking texture is just as important as flavor. If you don’t have cake flour and want to substitute it with all purpose flour, just use 3 cups all purpose flour and take out 6 tablespoons (think 2 tablespoons per cup). Replace the missing tablespoons with 6 tablespoons cornstarch and sift together. Please don’t forget to sift your flour, whether it’s all purpose or cake flour. Sifting helps the flour not the clump resulting in a smoother, you guessed it…texture.
Apple cider vinegar: Vinegar in cupcakes? Yes. It is necessary. It’s also best to mix it with the baking soda to help activate it and apple cider vinegar also makes that beautiful red color pop. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar you can also use white vinegar and vise versa.
Now let’s talk frosting! Homemade frosting is wwaayyyyy better than store bought. I will always recommend if your making a dessert that requires frosting – make it from scratch, you won’t regret it. Or maybe you will because you’ll never want anything else ever again 😉
Red velvet is typically paired with a sweet, tangy cream cheese frosting, it really is the best pairing. You’ll need 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, room temperature butter, a little bit of milk, some vanilla, and lots of powdered sugar. You’ll want to cream your butter and cream cheese together, add in your extract, milk, and then slowly add in the powdered sugar. Mix thoroughly and again, mix on medium to high speed for about 3 to 4 minutes, creating those air pockets so you get beautiful, fluffy thick frosting. Perfect to top your fluffy cupcake with.
And as for the cream cheese frosting center, I used my trusty cupcake corer (you can find here). You simply push it into the center of the cupcake, twist it and pull out the center. I discarded the center because after I filled the center I just topped my cupcake with additional frosting. You won’t know the cream cheese frosting center is there until you bite into the cupcake, talk about a sweet surprise!
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 and 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs (room temperature)
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons red velvet bakery emulsion (or 3 to 4 tablespoons red food coloring)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups cake flour (sifted)
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons milk (whole milk preferred)
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard cupcake pan with paper liners and set aside.
- In a smaller mixing bowl, sift cake flour and set aside. In a separate large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar together for 4 to 5 minutes until fluffy. On the slowest speed add in eggs mixing thoroughly until you add the next one. Keep mixer at slow speed for the rest of the ingredients. Add in cocoa powder, red velvet bakery emulsion (or red food coloring) and vanilla extract. Batter should start to turn red. Add salt into the milk. Slowly add in cake flour and milk, alternating and mixing thoroughly. Batter should be thick and bright red. In a small bowl quickly mix together baking soda and vinegar so that it fizzes. Quickly pour it into the cupcake batter and mix thoroughly until combined. Using a spoon or ice scoop, scoop batter into cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way full.
- Bake cupcakes for 18 to 20 minutes, insert a toothpick into the center and if it comes out clean they are done.
- Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely (about 15-20 minutes)
- In a large mixing bowl combine cream cheese and butter, cream together on high speed until combined. Add in vanilla extract and milk, mixing thoroughly until combined. Slowly add in powdered sugar, about 2 cups at a time, mixing thoroughly in between each addition.
- Use a cupcake corer or use a butter knife and cut out the center of each cupcake. Discard center. Fill hole with cream cheese frosting and then frost the top of each cupcake. Cupcakes are ready to serve immediately.
- *3 to 4 tablespoons of red food coloring can be substituted for red velvet bakery emulsion
- *white vinegar can be used in place of apple cider vinegar
- *if you don't have cake flour on hand use 3 cups minus 6 tablespoons of all purpose flour (think 2 tablespoons per cup) and replace the missing 6 tablespoons with 6 tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift together