Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What's in a name

If I am unsure about what to make, I often ask my husband his opinion. This happened recently when I was trying to decide what type of cupcakes to make. I have made a whole list for my catering business of different types, with candy bar themes and ice cream shoppe themes, etc., and I just couldn't decide which type to try first-they all sounded so delicious to me. Before I could even recite the list to my husband, to let him know what his choices were, he immediately answered: Red Velvet. Now, I don't think he has ever even  had Red Velvet, but that was the choice he made. I remember eating it as a child, and I wasn't too terribly impressed. For Christmas this last year, my husband bought me a Red Velvet cake mix from a bakery. I tried it out and wasn't too impressed with the results. I figured I just don't care for it that much. I also feel immensely guilty about the extreme amount of red food coloring called for in the recipes I have seen.
So, I harrumphed and decided to make the Red Velvet for him (since I asked).
I had a Red Velvet recipe in a magazine my mom had purchased (for herself...somehow it ended up with my stuff...odd...) The author detailed how some recipes use a chocolate cake and simply add red food coloring, but that is not how true Red Velvet should be made. I figured, hey, she owns a pretty successful bakery, she probably knows.
There was still something bothering me, though. I didn't like the thought of using all that food coloring. Don't get me wrong, I use the stuff, but only about once a year at Christmas when we are decorating cut-out cookies. I decided to try to find out if there was a substitution I could use that wouldn't compromise the color or flavor. I found many chefs who don't like to use that much food coloring use an equal amount of cherry or blackberry juice is a substitute, so I decided to go compromise a bit. I used about 1/3 of the red food coloring called for and the rest I used cherry juice (I had some in the freezer) it worked great and looked great, too. I felt better about using the juice, and next time I will probably use all juice.
The cupcakes were, by the way, absolutely amazing. I think my husband ate three the first time around. They were tender, probably due to the inclusion of buttermilk, and flavorful, and the cream cheese frosting is just delicious. These are definitely a make again item.
I piped white chocolate lettering on some parchment just as an experiment, and that's what you see in the picture. You should definitely try these.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Makes about 20 cupcakes
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring, blackberry juice, or cherry juice
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ½ cups flour
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon high-fat cocoa powder such as hershey’s special dark

Preheat oven to 350. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, combine oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.
With the mixer on low, add dry ingredients to the wet ½ cup at a time. Do this slowly so that the batter doesn’t develop clumps.
Transfer batter to lined muffin pans, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting: (double batch)

8 oz unsalted butter, softened
16 oz cream cheese, softened
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter and cream cheese until soft and smooth, about 2 minutes. With mixer on low, add powdered sugar ½ cup at a time. Add vanilla and mix on medium speed.

Use white chocolate or white melting chocolate for lettering.

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