Sunday, February 1, 2009

Cardinal Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

The hubz is an AZ native. To say he likes Arizona sports is a wee bit of an understatement. Suns, D-backs, Coyotes, Sun Devils... and of course, the Cardinals! So when the Cards finally made it to the Super Bowl, it was time to pull out all the stops. From cactus-shaped sugar cookies to guacamole and seven-layer dip, we had a very superstitious Southwest-inspired meal—and Cards-colored red velvet cupcakes!

I never really understood the big deal behind red velvet cupcakes. They're vanilla? But red? But contain cocoa? Huh? But since I LOVE cream cheese frosting, I decided to make these, and I can successfully say that I will make them again soon. This particular recipe produced the most MOIST cupcakes I have ever made. I usually think red food coloring tastes very bitter—red M&Ms, red frosting flowers on a cake (*gag*)—but this just tasted like a moist cake, no bitterness at all.

I combined two different Food Network recipes here because I saw the episode where Sunny made the cakes, which inspired me, but I prefer a cream cheese frosting to a basic white one. And, why not just make Paula Deen's recipe since it has the frosting I like? That's easy: Sunny's contained more cocoa. :) To make them more Big Game–friendly, I made Sunny's recipe into cupcakes and cut the baking time accordingly.

*IMPORTANT: If you don't want everything to be permanently stained red, use a stainless steel bowl, stainless steel whisk, and a dark colored (not white) spatula with a plastic handle (a wooden handle would probably turn red immediately if any dye got on it!)

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
2 sticks butter, room temperature (I used unsalted)
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 oz. red food coloring (I only used about 1.5 oz.)
3 T. cocoa powder
Pinch salt
2 eggs
1 c. buttermilk
1 t. vinegar
1 t. vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking soda

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened (I used unsalted)
1 t. vanilla extract
4 c. sifted confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar, until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, make a paste out of the red food coloring, cocoa, and salt using a whisk. Remove bowl from stand mixer and mix in paste by hand to the creamed butter. In a measuring cup, stir eggs with buttermilk and add to batter. Mix in vinegar and vanilla, and then add flour and baking soda. Mix until combined but do not overmix.

Divide the batter evenly among cupcake cups, filling about 2/3 full. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, halfway through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy. Frost cooled cupcakes and get back to watch the heartbreaker game!!

At least we enjoyed the cupcakes, if not the final score. :(

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