Last night I made about five dozen mini red velvet cupcakes for my daughter’s school fundraiser. I’ve been making red velvet cupcakes using this recipe for years, and they’ve always been a hit. They are moist, rich, full of flavor and decadent. Everyone loves them. Today was no different – I was told that our cupcakes sold out within 15 minutes, and one girl, after trying one, came back and bought another five. Kids are picky eaters, they say, and if they like something – it must be really good, right?
Over time I tried many red velvet cake and cupcake recipes but this one has remained the winner in my book. I came across this recipe on Divas Can Cook blog, but made a few tweaks to it to suit my taste. I hope you like them too.
For some reason I’ve grown to really like red velvet cakes in a miniature format – they are easier and much less messy to eat. One or two bites – and it’s gone. They also look so cute. Decorating a cupcake is definitely easier than a cake, especially if you are after a professional and elegant look.
Unlike other red velvet cake recipes I’ve seen, this recipe makes use of coffee. I love the idea, coffee definitely can add extra flavor. Maybe it’s me, but after the cupcakes are done, there is little, if any coffee flavor in them. For that reason I like to substitute part of the coffee for a couple of shots of espresso. If you plan on serving these cupcakes to kids or those who don’t consume caffeine, substitute regular coffee for decaffeinated version. I also find that using cake flour, which has lower protein content and produces a more airy and more delicate crumb than regular all-purpose flour, suits better for making red velvet cupcakes. To get a moister and richer crumb I bake my mini red velvet cupcakes to just before when a wooden stick would come out clean, more on that below.
Another little tweak has more to do with visual appeal – I prefer burgundy food coloring to red, which gives a more sophisticated and more elegant look in my opinion. I like the color of Wilton Burgundy Coloring and that’s what I use most often. For the icing recipe I use half the powdered sugar – I find that two cups of it is enough for my taste, and when using less of sugar the cream cheese and vanilla flavors are more pronounced. Speaking of vanilla, in the icing I always use vanilla bean in place of vanilla extract, finding that it produces a richer, fuller flavor. These can be expensive though, and it’s best to buy them in bulk to keep the cost more or less reasonable.
Now to the cupcakes. It’s a good idea to bake them by placing 1.25 inch baking cups inside a mini muffin pan, this will ensure that they retain their shape. I use a usual 24 cup mini muffin pan and bake in two batches. You can easily split the recipe in half if 24 mini red velvet cupcakes will be enough. Unfilled baking cups will be popping out, so have some one help you keep them down when you are filling them to avoid mess. I use a small frothing pitcher for filling baking cups, it works great.
The batter will rise during baking, so make sure not to fill the cup more than about 2/3 t0 3/4. To make the cupcakes come out easily, put some butter on the rims of the muffin pan cups. If some still stick, use a knife to gently separate them from the pan. Let them cool down before trying to take them out, it will make the job easier.
I bake these cupcakes at 325 F on top rack for exactly 12 minutes. To make sure they are done I do a test with a wooden stick or a toothpick. If the stick comes out with wet batter on it – it’s not done yet, I will wait for another minute and test again. I am looking for a few sticky crumbs on the stick, as shown on the picture below. If the stick comes out clean – the cupcakes over-baked and will have a dry crumb. After you pull them from the oven, they will continue to bake for a little while cooling down.
For decorating mini red velvet cupcakes I find that the large size star icing tips work the best. I use Wilton 1M (2110) Star Tip which works beautifully.
Decorate your mini red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting using a single circular motion as shown above.
I finish off with sprinkling a little bit of red sugar on top – it looks much more elegant that way. I am using Wilton Red Sprinkles here.
- For cupcakes:
- 2 cups cake or pastry flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp unsweetened, cocoa powder (I recommend Valrhona cocoa powder)
- 2 cups white granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp Wilton burgundy food coloring
- 1 tsp white distilled vinegar
- ¼ cup hot coffee plus 2 shots espresso for stronger coffee flavor (or ½ cup of regular hot coffee. Substitute for decaffeinated version when serving to kids or those who don't consume caffeine)
- For the frosting:
- 2 (8 oz) packs cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup cream or milk (you may need to add a few teaspoons more for softer frosting if you like)
- 1 stick (115 g) butter, softened
- 1 vanilla bean, split in half, seeds scraped with a spoon (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 325 F
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside
- In a separate large bowl, combine sugar and vegetable oil. Mix in eggs, buttermilk, vanilla extract and burgundy food coloring until combined, using a spoon or a hand mixer on the lowest speed
- Stir in coffee, espresso and white vinegar
- Using a large spoon or a hand mixer on low speed, combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients a little at a time
- Place mini baking cups into a 24 cup mini muffin pan
- Pour the batter into each cup about ⅔ to ¾ full
- Bake on the top rack for 12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs sticking to it
- Let cool on a cooling rack until the pan is warm to touch
- Slide a knife around the inside of the muffin pan cups to loosen cupcakes from the pan
- Remove cupcakes from the pan and let them cool completely
- To prepare the frosting, place softened cream cheese in a large bowl
- Add milk, softened butter and the scraped vanilla bean seeds
- Mix until well combined using a large spoon or a hand mixer on low speed
- Add powdered sugar and gently mix it in with a spoon
- Using a hand mixer, mix well until smooth and fluffy on medium to high speed
- Frost the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting when the cupcakes cooled completely
- Sprinkle a pinch of red sugar on top of each frosted red velvet cupcake