Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red velvet cupcakes are devil's food cupcakes with a lot of red food coloring.  Whenever I have devil's food I think of a part from one of my favorite books, "Lamb" by Christopher Moore.  The exchange takes place between two angels, one heading off to do a job on Earth and the other asks him to bring back some chocolate, a human snack invented by Satan.  The first asks, "Devil's food?" and the second responds, "One can't always eat white cake, my friend."  Which seems very fitting for chocolate month.

One thing I liked about these cupcakes is that although they were rich they were light too.  The lift is provided by mixing baking soda with vinegar.  They puffed up wonderfully, in fact I think they would be the perfect shape for 1upcakes as well, even if they're the wrong color.
Since it is chocolate month, I wanted my cupcakes to be extra chocolatey but by adding more cocoa powder I think I made them a little less red.  I would have liked them to be a deeper red color so I'm giving you the original recipe and hopefully it will be a better color.
I have always been attracted to more natural and elegant foods, but artificial colors can be fun too.  I added food coloring to the frosting as well because I was disappointed in the redness but I think a redder cupcake with white buttercream or cream cheese frosting could be very striking.
Of course, these are also just as delicious and enticing without the red food coloring.  The recipe is very easy and I would definitely recommend it as a go-to chocolate cake or cupcake recipe.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
2 tbsps unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp red gel-paste food color
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsps baking soda
2 tsps distilled white vinegar
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened (but not melted!) Ideal texture should be like ice cream.
3-4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
1. For the cupcakes: Whisk together cake flour, cocoa, and salt.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in food color and vanilla.
3. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each.
4. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed 10 seconds.
5. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake in a 350 degree oven, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
6. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
7. For frosting: Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed.
8. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.
9. To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature before serving.
Cupcakes from Martha Stewart and frosting from Savory Sweet Life
Print this recipe


  1. I trust the frosting is butter cream - the *only* way (IMHO) to top a perfect red velvet cake.

  2. The frosting is indeed butter cream, although I make no claims as to the perfection of the cupcakes :)