When your birthday falls so close to the holidays, you need something extra special to celebrate. A friend of ours with just such a birthday requested these red velvet cupcakes from Garrett McCord, guest blogger on Simply Recipes, and we wholeheartedly complied!
Red velvet cake is one of those classic American desserts with vague Southern origins - no one seems to know the exact birthplace. It's basically yellow cake made with buttermilk and just dash of cocoa powder for deeper flavor. The red color traditionally comes from boiled beets, but these days most of us use red food dye.
Garrett's cupcake version was just fantastic. The batter came together quickly and easily. We'd definitely recommend sifting the dry ingredients as she instructs; we opted for whisking instead and ended up with a few clumps from the cake flour.
Despite our troubles with the silicone baking liners, the cupcakes received an enthusiastic (if sticky) thumbs up from our birthday girl and other party-goers. The cake was soft in texture and incredibly tender - dare we say "velvety"?! We loved the grown-up flavor from these cupcakes. The sugary sweetness was tempered by all the acidic ingredients, giving these cakes a lot more complexity than just straight-forward yellow cake.
And can we just talk about that frosting for a second? It's seriously good. Of course, a block of cream cheese beaten with a stick of butter and a healthy portion of powdered sugar will do that to you. We were afraid it might taste greasy or strangely buttery, but instead it just tasted rich and sweet with just the balance of tang from the cream cheese.
We had to send the leftover cakes home with our guests for fear that we'd eat them all as soon as the door closed. Still, we probably won't have to wait too long until finding a new excuse to make another batch!
• Get the Recipe: Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting from Garrett McCord at Simply Recipes
(Images: Emma Christensen)