You might have been expecting a review and Local Pairing today, but alas, I must disappoint you–or perhaps, exhilarate you. Because today I bring you Red. Velvet. Cupcakes. With cream cheese frosting!
What’s the occasion, you might ask? No, it’s not my birthday. And it’s not another Mad Men party night (though these were in fact, the star attraction of our themed party to celebrate the return of one of our favorite shows). It is actually my 200th post. Crazy, right? I mean, that’s like, almost a novel. A few years ago, I tried writing a novel. For reals. It was going to be about a girl having a quarter life crisis after living abroad. And it was a little too cliche. And a little too close to home. And I realized that it was me, having my quarter life crisis and longing to return to writing. I got something like 50 pages in, which is impressive nonetheless, before telling myself that that book was done.
And then I took on a whole different kind of animal. A blog. One that I initially only updated once a month, but has since blossomed in two blogs, been dressed up with prettier pictures, and is regularly updated–up to three times per week (and more, if you include Matt’s Musical Pairings). Which brings me another reason to celebrate: today is–coincidentally, Matt’s 100th post for Musical Pairings. This blog has not been the same since Matt started contributing his passion and knowledge of music, matching albums with our meals, and uncovering under the radar local bands to accompany my restaurant reviews.
We’ve come a long way together, and we’re getting ready to embark on some new adventures (marriage, a seventeen hour overnight bus ride in the mountains of Argentina). This was a culinary adventure for me as you’d be surprised to learn that I have never in my life made cupcakes. In fact, I wasn’t sure: was I supposed to grease the pan? Would the papers not burn in the oven? Was it potentially really unsafe to eat 2 bottles worth of red food coloring? Would the red food coloring ever come out from underneath my fingernails and my counters?
To my joy and surprise, all turned out well…as things usually do–especially when I worry about them as I worry about all things. As I mentioned, I baked these cupcakes as a little tribute to 60s-era set Mad Men, which you really should watch if you don’t. They were moist and creamy and addictively delicious. And they impressed my friends. More, they were gone in virtually 2 sittings. Thank goodness I had friends to share these with over a few days!
Also, I have learned: a. cupcakes are easy. b. you might eat less cream cheese frosting if you make it yourself. c. I wonder what red velvet cupcakes would look like without the ‘red’? Inevitably, they would taste the same?
Either way, it’s happy day. It is my 200th post, it’s Matt’s 100th, a Friday, and exactly 2 weeks and 1 day before my wedding.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
recipe via Pinch My Salt
For the cupcakes:
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 bottles of red food coloring
1/2 cup of butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, brought to room temperature
1 teaspoon of plain vinegar
1 teaspoon of baking soda
For the cream cheese frosting:
2 16 ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups of powdered sugar, sifted to get rid of any lumps
a pinch of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a muffin tin (or two, if you’ve got them) with paper cupcake holders.
2. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, salt and baking powder.
3. Using a spoon, combine the food coloring with the cocoa powder until it forms a smooth paste.
4. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with a mixer pale and fluffy.
5. Beat in one egg at a time. Whisk in the vanilla extract and cocoa paste.
6. Beat in one third of the flour mixture. Once incorporated, beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat half of the leftover flour. Then, add the rest of the buttermilk. Pour in the rest of the flour, mixing until combined and smooth.
7. Pour the vinegar into a small bowl and the baking soda. Once it starts to fizz, add it to the batter, stirring with a silicone spatula to combine.
8. Fill each cupcake cup to 3/4 full.
9. Bake on the middle rack for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Mine baked a little faster (18 minutes) so be sure to check on them after 15 to make sure they don’t over bake. Test with a toothpick.
10. Repeat with the second tin, or wait until your first batch cools before repeating step 8.
11. Make the cream cheese frosting: using a mixer, blend together the cream cheese and butter until soft and smooth. Slowly blend in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and pinch of salt. Keep increasing the speed of the mixer to get the frosting fluffy.
12. Let the cupcakes cool before frosting with cream cheese frosting. Be sure the frosting is at room temperature when frosting. You can refrigerate the cupcakes, but bring them to room temperature before eating so that the frosting is soft.
Want to find out what album is marking Matt’s 100th post? Head over to Musical Pairings @ eating/sf.