Moist and delicious, these red velvet cupcakes are decorated with pretty cream cheese icing flowers.
Can you feel that? Spring is in the air! We’re going to hit 70 this week, the clocks will spring forward and I even saw my first tulip peeking through the soil. I’m not putting away my winter boots yet, but I’m definitely feeling optimistic that the worst of it is behind us. That little tulip got me thinking about the warm sun, green grass and spring flowers. And since I communicate best through food, today I’m funneling all my springiness into these sweet flower cupcakes.
This flower design is really quite simple. You just need a piping bag, a petal flower tip (I used Wilton 104# ) and a semi-steady hand. I’ve posted a video just below that will demonstrate that you don’t need a degree in pastry arts to master this piping technique. I find this particular design pretty forgiving. Don’t fret if one petal is a little bigger than the next…it’s not meant to be perfect. If we’re really trying to mimic nature, we know that it’s most interesting when each flower is slightly different than the next, like snowflakes. It’s these differences that make them special. I think my mom tried to communicate a similar message to me as a haughty teen, but clearly that was before I spoke cupcake.
When I had my baking business, other than a straight up chocolate or vanilla cupcake, red velvet was by far the most popular flavor. It’s one of those cupcakes that you know you love, but it’s hard to describe why. You just do. A hint of cocoa, that moist, tangy crumb from the buttermilk…it all just works. Of course there’s all that sciencey stuff behind it, but sometimes all you need is a what, not a why. Add a swirl of cream cheese icing and well, it’s pretty much the perfect cupcake.
Red velvet is by far the favorite in my family. In a house divided by vanilla and chocolate we somehow come together at red velvet. I’ll never tell the vanilla half that there’s a smattering of cocoa powder in these babies. They don’t need to know that they’re secret chocolate lovers too. And oh, my favorite little chocolate lover turns 10 next month. And as much as he loves a fudgy cake, he’s already requesting red velvet for the big day. It seems he’s an unbeknownst peacekeeper. So to celebrate spring and an early happy birthday to my boy, here’s to red velvet. It’s the bridge between vanilla and chocolate and with these pretty petals, hopefully the bridge from winter to spring. Cheers to warm, sweet days ahead!
- 4 oz unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbsp red food coloring
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 16 oz cream cheese, softened (brick cream cheese, not whipped)
- 8 oz unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
- 2 lbs confectioners sugar
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners.
Cream together the butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.
Add the food coloring and buttermilk and mix until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda.
Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Add the vinegar and mix, then the vanilla and mix until just combined. Do not overmix.
Using an ice cream scoop, divide the batter between the 24 lined muffin cups.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes on med/high speed with an electric mixer.
Gradually add in confectioners sugar, mixing well to combine.
Stir in vanilla extract until incorporated.
Divide the icing between the cupcakes and smooth with a knife or offset spatula. Alternatively use a piping bag and decorating tip to pipe a design (see the video for an example).