Red Velvet Cupcakes
Category: Desserts & Sweets | Blog URL: http://countlesscalories.wordpress.com/2010/02/25/red-velvet-cupcakes/
This recipe was entered in The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook contest, a compilation of the world’s best food blogs which was published in Fall 2010.
Photo: flickr user Dyanna
If you’re a fan of red velvet cake, you really must try this recipe. The crumb is incredibly tender and delicate, due to the use of cake flour and to the reaction between the vinegar and baking soda. The level of sweetness is optimum, as the sugar content is perfectly balanced with the tangy notes of the buttermilk and the bitterness and depth of flavour of the cocoa powder. Oh, and the icing….. the icing is ethereal!
I’ve read countless traditional and non-traditional red velvet recipes, and have combined various aspects of them in the following recipe. I found that most red velvet recipes use vegetable oil, which I don’t like to use in baking, so I’ve chosen a hard fat based recipe. I noticed that many traditional Southern red velvet recipes use shortening. The first time I made red velvet cupcakes, I used all butter in a variation of a recipe calling for shortening. Shortly thereafter, I read that the secret to great red velvet texture is to use shortening or lard. I was hesitant to try substituting all lard in my recipe, because butter has a sweeter and superior flavour to lard in baked goods. The second time, I tried substituting lard for half of the butter content in the recipe. They rose better upon baking, and the texture was marginally better. Flavourwise, there wasn’t a detectable difference. Whether you use all butter, or a combination of butter and lard, the results are outstanding….I think I may be splitting hairs over this detail.
I personally love cream cheese, but in order to please all members of my family, I decided to do a buttercream icing. Since seeing gravy icing (also known as American buttercream) prepared on the Food Network, I had been dying to try it. Apparently, it is the authentic icing for red velvet in the South. I’ve tried more traditional French buttercream recipes in the past, and find that many produce an icing that is slightly greasy. The beauty of gravy icing is that the slurry really binds the sugar and butter, and creates an icing that is essentially the texture of a tight whipped cream.