No one is sure exactly how Red Velvet cake came to be. Some people claim that it was invented at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, where a chef charged a woman $350 for the recipe. And, supposedly, she paid this price at the height of the Great Depression because the cake was so scrumptious.
Eh . . . *Eyebrow raise*
It’s an interesting tale, but I bet this cake was really invented by a Mom with a toddler when the toddler said, “Mommy, let me help put the food coloring into the cake! Ooops . . . ” and she had to come up with a way to explain how an entire bottle of red food coloring ended up in her dessert. Haha.
Well, however it was invented, Red Velvet cake is delicious. With its dark chocolate flavor and its light, irresistibly decadent cream cheese frosting, it’s no wonder that this brazenly scarlet dessert is a classic favorite for Valentine’s Day. The best part about these cupcakes is that they are a cinch to make, because they start with a basic Red Velvet cake mix. So dress up your cake mix, make dazzling cupcakes in a flash, and accept the compliments you deserve. No one has to know how easy these were. And if anyone insists on knowing, tell him that you’re willing to sell the recipe . . . for $350 😉
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
(my own creation based on several favorite cupcake recipes)
1 Red Velvet Cake Mix
1 (3.4 oz.) package instant chocolate pudding
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 cup sour cream
1 bag white chocolate chips, dusted in 1 tsp. flour
Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients:
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix together cake mix, eggs, water, oil, and sour cream. Stir tsp. of flour into chips and fold them into batter. Fill muffin papers 1/2-3/4 full and bake at 350 for roughly 20-25 minutes until cupcakes spring bake when touched lightly, and a toothpick inserted into their centers comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before decorating. For icing, beat softened cream cheese and softened butter for 1 minute until they are light and fluffy, and no lumps remain. Add in powdered sugar and slowly mix into creamed butter and cream cheese. Add vanilla and whip until light and fluffy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
This is going to be quick and easy, because we are basically going to take a regular, run-of-the-mill cake mix and dress it up in its Sunday best. 😀 To start, mix together your cake mix, instant pudding, eggs, water, oil, and sour cream. I am making half a recipe, today, so that’s why you see only half the ingredients, here. Half a recipe makes exactly 12 cupcakes, which is just right for what I need. I use a kitchen scale to measure out my cake mix and pudding mix to make sure that I am getting exactly half and save the other, labeled halves for next time.
Mmmm . . . isn’t that pretty? “Oh the lady in red . . . the fellas are crazy for the lady in red . . .” And if you can name my favorite black and white TV show, where I got that quotation, my hat is off to you 😉
Now, let’s talk chocolate– ahh! One of my favorite subjects! A little trick to keeping chocolate chips (or individual fruits, like blueberries) from all sinking to the bottom of your baked goods is to toss the chips in a teeny bit of flour before adding them to your batter. In a separate bowl mix your chips with about 1 tsp. of flour and stir with a spoon to make sure that all the chips get completely covered. Go ahead and add your chips to the batter and fold them in with a spatula. It’s OK if a little plain flour gets mixed into the batter, too– it won’t hurt anything.
Another cupcake trick is to fill the muffin cups only about 1/2 to 3/4 full. NEVER place your batter all the way to the top, or the cupcake batter will lop over onto the sides and make those messy, “sides torn off because they stuck to the pan” uglies that will never get a Prom date to the Bakery Ball in a million years. We want pretty cupcakes. It won’t seem like there is enough batter in there– you will feel the need to add MORE. But don’t do it. Don’t fill them more than 3/4 of the way full, and then, when they bake, they will crown the tops perfectly. Bake the cupcakes at 350 for roughly 20-25 minutes until the cake springs back lightly when touched, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. When the cupcakes are finished baking, place them on a cooling rack and allow to cool, completely, before decorating.
Just tell those redheaded hotheads to cool it!
Since we are waiting for them to chill out, this is the perfect time to make our DEEEEEELICIOUS cream cheese icing. YUM. Can you tell I love this stuff? Anything with cream cheese in it is pretty much guaranteed to be a favorite. Just a note– you want your butter and cream cheese to be softened before you start this so that you don’t get lumps in the icing. If you put them out on the counter about 1/2 hour before you need them, that should be just about right.
Go ahead and mix your butter and cream cheese, alone, in the mixer until they are nice and light and fluffy. You need to get those lumps out before you add the other ingredients, or like relatives on a long vacation, unfortunately, they’ll be there to stay.
Once you have them nice and mixed, with all the lumps gone, add your powdered sugar and vanilla. Start out mixing on the lowest setting so that you don’t make your very own powdered sugar “blizzard” in your kitchen. When the sugar gets mixed in, a little bit, you can increase your speed until you get a nice, thick icing. Use a spatula to scrape the bowl and refrigerate the icing, covered, until you’re ready to use it.
When your cupcakes are cooled, use a plastic wrap “sleeve” to load your icing. You can read more about this time saving tip here. Let me just say that you should totally decorate this way, from now on, because there are no icing bags to wash. WHEW. And anything that saves on dishes is A OK with me. Use a large decorating tip (I used Wilton 2A) to decorate them all fancy schmancy, and then top with sprinkles, if you want. If you sprinkle your decorations over one of those cheapie paper plates, then you can fold the whole ‘shebang right in half, when you’re done, and dump the leftover sprinkles back into the container. Nice. You’re so smart, it’s almost scary.
Refrigerate these little guys until you’re ready to serve them. And then, when the time is right, whip them out and serve them to the “ooohhs” and “ahhhs” of your Valentine’s guests. The cupcakes will look like they came from a professional bakery, and they will taste like it, too. Don’t worry– I’ll never let the secret out that you used a humble cake mix. Sometimes secret recipes are best left secret.
Because you did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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