Vaguely frazzled and slightly overdone

Vaguely frazzled = me.  Slightly overdone = red velvet cupcakes.  It’s probably not obvious yet based on my previous entries, but I’m not as excited about cupcakes as others are.  Yes, they’re cute, but they’re more often than not dry and topped with too much overly sweet frosting.  Bottom line is they are mostly just good to look at.  Plus, full-out cakes are just cool and so much fun to make.  (ok, as a side note, I will say there is one cupcake bakery that I love named Hankerings.  Their cupcakes are moist and I don’t feel the urge to scrape off the frosting when I’m eating them because it’s soooo good!!!).  I did cave in this past weekend when my friend’s sister (and maid of honor) suggested red velvet cupcakes for the bridal shower.

Ok, they turned out gorgeous and delicious (even as I eat one now 3 days later).  What else should I have expected from a Mark Bittman recipe?  I just don’t know.  There is this one cool bit in the recipe though, where right before you fill the cupcake liners, you mix vinegar with baking soda (bubbles!  chemistry!) then mix it into the batter.  I’m not sure what this does, but I guess it gives the cupcakes that quick, last-minute burst of fluffiness.  They bake up with gorgeously round tops, perfect for decorating.  I’m thinking of trying this with my favorite white cake next time I want to make them as cupcakes.  Perhaps this will give them that nice round top.

Oh, before I give you the recipe, why the red velvet hate?  IT’S JUST RED FOOD COLORING IN CHOCOLATE CAKE!!!  I put in 2 freaking bottles of red food coloring, turning all my white measuring spoons into red!!  That food coloring alone cost more than every other ingredient I put into that cake!!  That includes the heart and pearl sprinkles I ordered especially for this!!!  And the teal polka dot liners!!!  Ok, I’m done venting.

The truth?  The red is a beautiful color.  I’ll admit it.  I sorta was in love with this cake when it came out of the oven.  I know, I’m a bit of a hypocrite now.  I am, however, inspired to try making a beet chocolate cake, where the red comes from something that’s not called red-145.  Next time!!  Well, not any time soon.  I went a little crazy, as usual, with the food planning for the bridal shower.  But everyone had a great time and left with happy, full bellies, so I’m happy too.  I’ll have to post more about the menu another time.  Probably when I get back from vacation.  Oh yeah!  I’m going to Turkey!!  I even bought a travel towel today in an attempt to maximize my suitcase space.  I was so tempted by REI’s selection of lightweight, travel/hiking pants.  Easy to wash and wear – perfect for travel, just not for my wallet…

Now that I’ve sufficiently gone on tangents, here’s the recipe from Mark Bittman’s NY Times article (sometime in the 90s), modified for crowd-pleasing cupcakes, and frosting from somewhere in allrecipes (as passed on to me by my friend’s sister).

Red velvet cupcakes (makes about 30 – I made 24 cupcakes, about 5 heart-shaped cupcakes, and 7 mini cupcakes from one batch)



  • 3-1/2 c cake flour
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c vegetable oil
  • 2 c granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 T (3oz) red food coloring (I couldn’t find the gel kind that I like to use, but the liquidy red kind worked just fine.  I bought two bottles, but that was just under 3oz)
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 c buttermilk (this is the first time I actually bought real buttermilk!!  I thought I was going to have to make 2 batches so it seemed to make sense)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2-1/2 tsp white vinegar

Cream cheese frosting

  • 1/2 c butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 3 c confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. Stir together cake flour, cocoa powder, and salt in large bowl (I like to use a large fork).
  3. Mix oil and sugar with mixer at medium speed until well-blended (forms an emulsion of sorts).
  4. Beat eggs in one at a time.
  5. Add food coloring and mix on low.
  6. Add vanilla.
  7. Alternate adding flour and buttermilk (flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, flour).
  8. Scrape down bowl and beat just to combine.
  9. Mix baking soda and vinegar.  Add to batter and quickly beat for 10 sec.
  10. Pour batter into prepared cupcake liners.  Do not fill all the way as this batter will rise a lot!
  11. Bake 15-20 min until toothpick comes out clean.
  12. To make frosting beat butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla extract together.

yumminess.  maybe I have been converted to cupcakes.  But for now, I would be satisfied if I stopped rewatching clips from Once Upon a Time.  I really need to clean my stuff up so I can begin packing in earnest.  I’m a little freaked out I won’t get it all done.  hahaha.  Season finales, why now?????