Although you do not know who I am, nor have you ever met me, I know you
were are a very extraordinary individual. Just the fact that you have a food blog (that I wish I found out about sooner) makes you special in my book, but judging by the blogosphere you are a person held dear to many hearts. I don't even know you enough to know if you like cupcakes, but either way these red velvet ones are dedicated to you. Rest in peace.
if i could, i would have the flags at half mast
For the past two years, red velvet cake, alongside cornbread, pancakes, and white rice was on the list of things I could never conquer in the kitchen... until now. I have finally found my perfect red velvet cake recipe, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen (Thanks Deb!).
Being able to overcome an obstacle as niggly and seemingly insignificant such as this may seem trivial to most, but to me it's as if I climbed Mount Everest (which I will never do). This red velvet cake really has been a confidence booster for me, and as I start to conquer more in the kitchen, I feel this blog maturing right alongside me. Two years ago I could never dream of taking pictures as half decent as the ones in this post, and I can't wait to see what another two years brings.
the bounty of summer
The cupcakes were luxuriously moist yet subtly sweet, thus requiring (and I mean it) swirls of cream cheese frosting dolloped on top. While most recipes have a useless tablespoon or so of cocoa, you could actually taste the mild, bitter flavor of deeply dark chocolate. In fact, in my own very biased and conceited opinion, these morsels are quite comparable to the infamous Sprinkles red velvet cupcakes that I adore so much.
And on a final note, the flags are indeed quite tacky and are something that I usually don't fall for, but come on- when else am I ever going to get the chance to buy flag toothpicks?
Red Velvet Cupcakes
adapted from Elissa Strauss via Smitten Kitchen
cake3 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring or 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 1/2 sticks of cream cheese, softened
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 pound of powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.
Divide batter among cupcake pans, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.
Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using. Liberally frost each cupcake, and if you so desire, top with a strawberry half, some blueberries, and a tacky flag toothpick.