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I’m Andrea. I like to cook and bake and take photographs and write about life. Welcome to Bella Eats, where I share these passions of mine with you. I’m glad you’re here.

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red velvet cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting

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.

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 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


  1. Preheat oven to 350*. Line standard muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Cool on rack in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Ingredients

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


  1. 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. 
  2. 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.

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Reader Comments (21)

LOVE the styling on this recipe!!

Are there any left!?

02.9.2011 | Unregistered CommenterKath

These cupcakes are darling & so is your blog! So happy I just discovered you on Foodgawker :)

02.10.2011 | Unregistered Commentermarla

These are so adorable! They look delicious.

Great photos, styling and layout of blog!

02.10.2011 | Unregistered Commenteralyce

Thanks for your Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting recipe. I really liked it! I also recommend Red Velvet Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting for your next baking day. It taste delicious. Th recipe for those who would like to try is http://www.fourgreensteps.com/community/recipes/desserts-a-goodies-/red-velvet-cupcakes-with-buttercream-frosting

02.10.2011 | Unregistered CommenterVicky

I absolutely love the pictures you have taken and your cupcakes are simply adorable! Love the tip using the gel food coloring, I actually really like the deeper red that you have achieved as opposed to the more vibrant color typically seen. And the cinnamon frosting is a nice little twist, this will definitely need to go into my recipe book!

02.11.2011 | Unregistered CommenterJess Wakasugi

I adore your presentation with these. Incredible!

02.11.2011 | Unregistered Commenterjenna laughs

Perfect for Valentine's Day! They look amazing!

02.11.2011 | Unregistered Commenterclaire

Great photos! Plus the recipe looks divine. We'd love for you to share your recipe at dishfolio.com!

02.11.2011 | Unregistered CommenterLacey @ dishfolio

you so read my mind !! can wait to try these

02.11.2011 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Gleason

Hi Andrea – You have a beautiful blog! I just wanted to let you know that I featured these adorable cupcakes in my Valentine’s Day Favorites post today… Here’s the link: http://www.thecomfortofcooking.com/2011/02/my-favorite-valentines-day-recipes.html. Thanks for sharing them. I look forward to trying them soon and exploring your recipes more. Your photography is stunning! Have a great weekend!

I like the toned-down red color here. Honestly the bright red of most red velvet cakes is kind of frightening, I'd like my food to not be so obviously artificial! The little ribbon is really adorable and the perfect finishing touch to these cupcakes. Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

This looks so simple but it makes my mouth watering. I love the white frosting on the top and adding some chocolate syrup will make it yummier. Thanks for the recipe.

02.12.2011 | Unregistered CommenterRose Forever

I love your photos, Andrea....you inspire me to take better pictures.

The photos are so perfect. I love your not so much frosting on the top. I am not fond of so much frostings that I mostly saw from others.

02.13.2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie Schoenhut

I ended up making these yesterday, not because I'm a huge V-day fan (we have zero plans, in fact, which I am okay with), but because I was in the mood to bake SOMETHING. I will enjoy sharing them with friends at work tomorrow, and I had a mild sugar high last after eating one-and-a-half.

02.13.2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristina

these look amazing! You decorated them so nicely too. I love the sound of that cinnamon cream cheese frosting!

hey! just ran across your site the other day and i immediately wrote down this recipe and then made it the next day for a valentines party, i didn't even get to taste one, but i'm pretty positive they were incredible... i know the batter was :)


02.18.2011 | Unregistered Commentercarly

Just when I think your photos couldn't get any lovelier... Seriously, Andrea, these shots are terrific. Do tell - what was the big Valentine's Day surprise?

02.20.2011 | Unregistered CommenterJess

@Jess : Oh, thank you, friend! And, Brian took me dancing! So fun. I can't wait to go again. :)

02.21.2011 | Registered CommenterAndrea

That’s funny your website is Bella, as my name is Bryon Bella. I see it pop up all over the place these days. This is a well done website. I like how you included more than one recipe. That takes a lot of hard work and dedication. I also watch “America’s Test Kitchen” on PBS. I record in HD on my DISH Network employee HD DVR so I can watch later. I love that it comes in better than on my antenna here in Denver. It always goes out when it’s windy, and spring is the worst. Your pictures are so clear and well focused. Keep up the good work, and I’ll be back!

04.3.2011 | Unregistered CommenterBryon

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