Wow, has it been a super busy week and a half!  But after some time away, I’m glad to be back here.  So…red velvet.  It’s been such a hot flavor for such a long time.  And why shouldn’t it be?  The cake is wonderfully moist, cream cheese frosting is always amazing…but it’s the flavor…that unidentifiable but tasty flavor of the actual cake  that seems to make everyone an addict.  Some people say it’s the chocolate that “makes” he cupcake, but I’d have to respectfully disagree.  When you take a look at the ingredients and the proportions, it’s quite a stretch to attribute the unique flavor to just chocolate alone.

While recipes vary, the best red velvet recipes call for anywhere from 1 tablespoon to 1/2 cup of cocoa powder.  Some recipes call for butter while others call for oil.  With this much variation, it’s quite difficult to figure out what proportions cater best to your tastes.

Personally, I believe that red velvet shouldn’t actually taste like chocolate.  Chocolate should only be there to add depth to the cupcake itself, so I shy away from recipes that call for anything more than 1/4 cup of cocoa powder.

As far as the whole debate between butter vs. oil, I’m at a standstill.  Butter  imparts a wonderfully rich flavor only real butter can provide.  But, you’ll oftentimes find your cupcake to be on the “drier” and denser side.  Ultimately, you’re going to get something that is much more cake like, that cupcake like.  Oil, on the other-hand will provide that moist texture–but it will lack the rich, buttery taste.  More importantly, some may be turned off by the cupcake being somewhat “oily.”

So, I was in a dilemma.  Look–for whatever reason, people take their red velvet seriously.  Everyone has apparently morphed into a red velvet connoisseur.  I won’t lie–I do the same.  I’ve shunned many cupcake shops because their red velvet cupcake failed to please me. What was I going to do?  I reached out to a friend on Facebook who was now a pastry chef who said that I would have to find a recipe that combined both butter and oil to achieve the flavor and consistency I was looking for.  Okay, I know–it should have been a “Duh” moment for me.  But for whatever reason, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to do that.  It’s a rather difficult task–oil is pure fat.  Butter is a combination of fat and water and a handful of other ingredients and you couldn’t just simply exchange them at the same ratio.

While, I wouldn’t say that I perfected the red velvet recipe, I think I’m super happy with what I created.  My boyfriend loved them and his aunt couldn’t stop raving about them.  So, my friends–here’s my version.  Just keep in mind, that whatever combination you choose to make your cupcakes, its the preparation that makes all the different.  Never beat the mixture on anything higher than medium low once the flour is in the batter.  Doing so will give you a very dry cake–remember, overbeating any batter will always give you dry product.   If you have any suggestions or ideas–please share!

As far as the frosting goes, go back to some of the older posts for the recipe.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self rising), sifted
3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4  cups vegetable oil
1/2  cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon red gel-paste food color
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cake flour, cocoa and salt. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar, melted butter, and oil until combined.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in food color and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed for 10 seconds.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 15-20minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature or frozen for up to 2 months, in an airtight container.

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes
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