We're not big on Valentine's Day plans in our house, typically choosing to stay home for a dinner cooked together paired with a nice bottle of wine. And really, how is that different from most nights around here? But this year Brian has something special up his sleeve, and despite my persistent quest for answers, he hasn't slipped me the slightest hint about what he's up to. It's impressive, really, because we're usually the couple that exchanges gifts as soon as we've purchased them, never able to hold out for the birthday, anniversary, or holiday they are truly meant for. I've got to say, I'm pretty excited. The anticipation is killing me! :)
When you're a recipe blogger you really can't avoid Valentine's Day, despite our typical lack of celebration at home. The red food coloring and sprinkles and heart-shaped cookie cutters are part of the job, and I really am okay with it. Any excuse to bake is fine by me. This year for my Valentine's baking (a week early, so that I could share with you here) I decided to go with a more natural palette - a toned-down burgundy cake and cream frosting, adorned with a simple craft ribbon. Which, I think, makes these red velvet cupcakes the perfect "all-grown-up" Valentine's Day dessert.
Now I wouldn't call myself a red velvet cake aficionado, as I've never really understood the appeal of it before now. It's just red cake...right?!? Not really. I love the subtle chocolate flavor and soft crumb of these cakes, made light and moist with buttermilk. And the cinnamon cream cheese frosting is so completely delicious that it's a wonder any made it to the domed tops. Seriously, I could have eaten the entire bowl on its own. Don't skip this frosting in favor of a fluffy white version, the cupcakes just wouldn't be the same.
Happy Valentine's Day, all! I hope you spend the day, and each one after that, with those you love.
PS: There's nothing wrong with sprinkles, and if you're looking for some (along with the story of my breaking a little boy's heart), I suggest my Valentine's Day post from last year. :)
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
from Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook via Joy The Baker
makes 12 cupcakes. double the recipe to make two 9-inch layer cakes.
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2-1/2 Tablespoons red food coloring (I used a gel food coloring...about 1 tsp mixed with enough water to make 2-1/2 tablespoons...which is why my cupcakes are more burgundy than red)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1-1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
- Preheat oven to 350*. Line standard muffin pan with paper liners.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, and beat until well-incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa, food coloring, and vanilla extract to form a paste. (I used 1 tsp of gel food coloring with water added to equal 2-1/2 tbsp, which is why I think my cupcake color isn't as vibrant as Joy's.) Add to the batter and mix thoroughly, until completely combined. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to be sure that all of the batter is equally colored.
- Turn the mixer to low and slowly add half of the butter milk. Mix to combine. Add half of the flour and mix to combine. Repeat with the last of the buttermilk and the last of the flour. Scrape the bowl, turn mixture to high, and beat until smooth.
- Turn the mixer back to low and add the baking soda, salt and vinegar. Turn mixer up to high and beat for 1-2 minutes until smooth.
- Spoon the batter into paper-lined cupcake pan and bake at 350* for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. If you have doubled the recipe and are baking 2 pans at once, be sure to rotate the pans halfway through baking.
- Cool on rack in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely before frosting.
I go light on frosting, so this made the perfect amount for a double-batch of cupcakes. If you're making a layer cake, you'll probably want to double it.
- 2-1/3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 3 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 4 ounces cream cheese, cold (I used room temperature)
- scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add the powdered sugar and cinnamon and mix at medium-slow speed until well combined.
- Add the cream cheese all at once and beat at medium-high for 5 minutes, or until the frosting is light and fluffy. Do not over-beat as the frosting can become runny quickly.