2.14.2011

cupid cupcake

I am a firm believer that baking delicious treats shows you care. It is the age-old notion is that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Heck, the way to my heart is through my stomach.

It's easy to pick up a pre-made mix at the store, but I like to put my whole heart into things. To me, baking from scratch makes it much more of a personal, edible gift, and it tastes better! What better sugary treat to give (or eat yourself) on Valentine's day than a Red Velvet Cupcake?

Here is a yummy recipe from Miss Paula Deen, the Southern cooking Queen. Yes, I am aware of the fat content that goes into these jazzed up muffins, but let's just indulge for today.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 tablespoons red food coloring

1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 pound cream cheese, softened

2 sticks butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Chopped pecans and fresh raspberries or strawberries, for garnish

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

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
For the Cream Cheese 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.

Garnish with chopped pecans and a fresh raspberry or strawberry.

Cook's Note: Frost the cupcakes with a butter knife or pipe it on with a big star tip. 

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I realize the richness and ingredients of Paula Deen's recipes don't always fit with everyone's diet or lifestyle. So here is a Vegan Red Velvet Cupcake recipe that is just as tasty, found in chef Erin McKenna's cookbook, Babycakes.

Ingredients:
.5 cup rice milk
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3.25 cups whole spelt flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 teaspoons baking powder
.5 teaspons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup coconut oil
1.25 cups agave nectar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
5 tablespoons of natural red food coloring.
For the cream cheese frosting: 1 container Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
1/2 cup soy margarine
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Directions:
First set your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 basic 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
Then combine the rice milk and apple cider vinegar in a bowl, don't stir and set a side. (I promise this works out okay!)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the oil, agave nectar, and vanilla to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. The batter will be thick. Using a plastic spatula, add the rice milk and vinegar mixture and mix until just combined. Then add your food coloring by the tablespoon until it's as red as you want. But don't go overboard or the batter will get to watery.

Pour evenly, about 1/3 cup batter into each cupcake cup, and bake on the center rack for 24 minutes. I'm sure you know how to tell if a cupcake is done, and it's no different for vegan cupcakes. They bounce back when touched and the toothpick comes out clean!
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You can personalize these confectioner creations even more by adding a little more decor. For a holiday party, I wanted my mini treats to look just as good as they tasted. Using black fondant and sugar rose petals, I made some little polka-dotted cakes, with flowers on top. See?
 

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