Red Velvet Cupcakes from Bobby Flay Throwdown

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After having a red velvet cupcake from Two Little Red Hens, my hankering for red velvet cupcakes was insatiable. It’s unfortunate how far away Two Little Red Hens is from my apartment, so it’s a rare treat that I have maybe a couple of times a year. I was desiring a red velvet cupcake up till a week after I had my first bite and had to quell the thirst immediately. For some inane reason there are no decent red velvet cupcakes within a ten block radius of my apartment.

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Making these cupcakes was also a bit of a triumph for me. My left hand had been bit by a dog in the last month, and the fracture I sustained with the inflexibility rendered by the deep scars meant I was still struggling to hold onto things with my hand, or carry heavy things.

These cupcakes are moist, and almost too oily for me. I think I had rather high standards after having a light and fluffy Two Little Red Hens cupcake, but well, I also don’t run a bakery. Other than that, the cupcake had a distinct red velvet taste – a balance between being tangy and cocoa-y. The frosting is creamy and delicious – I would suggest making sure it’s 100% lump-free before applying it onto your cupcake. I’d say these cupcakes aren’t deathly sweet and actually have a decent balance of flavor. I thought the batter was top-notch when I was licking it off the bowl, mmm.

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Red Velvet Cupcakes from Throwdown with Bobby Flay
Makes 14 cupcakes
Recipe from Cookie Madness

7 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour (1 3/4 cups minus a teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoons plus 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons plus 1/8 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cups vegetable oil
6.5 ounces granulated sugar (1 cup minus 1 tablespoon)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk (Jin: as a substitute, I used milk and a tablespoon of white vinegar, let it sit for five minutes to curdle and used that)
1 egg plus 2 tablespoons beaten egg
1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon red food coloring
1/2 teaspoons plus 1/8 teaspoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoons plus 1/8 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon water

For the cream cheese frosting:
6 oz cream cheese, room temperature
4 oz butter, room temperature
1/2 pound (1 ¾ cups) powdered sugar, sifted
3/4 vanilla extract

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a bowl and set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat oil, sugar, and buttermilk until combined. Add eggs, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla and water and mix well. Add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix by hand until well mixed. Be sure not to overmix, or the batter will come out tough.

Line 14 cupcake cups with paper liners, scoop the batter into the liners dividing evenly (a little over halfway full) and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.

For the cream cheese frosting:

Whip the butter and cream cheese together in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until creamed. Gradually add powdered sugar to the mixture and scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.

Makes 14

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

IMG_3893I started my first real job out of college about a month ago, and now that a considerable chunk of my time is devoted to work, I have much less time to blog. I still cook and bake quite often – I recently made two chocolate cakes and a soy sauce chicken, but not having daylight to snap my food in makes blogging an afterthought. These red velvet cupcakes, however, were for a specific occasion. Every month, my work place hosts a birthday party for people born in that month. I wanted, nay, needed an excuse to bake up something more elaborate than a utilitarian chocolate cake that fulfilled my dessert cravings.

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The original recipe for these were for an 8-inch layer cake, but for ease of transport, I decided to make them into cupcakes. I’ve made the cake a few days ahead in time and froze them, and I intend to frost them in the office pantry. Transporting frosted cupcakes often require large, bulky carriers, and as a bike rider, I prefer to fit everything into my backpack as much as possible. I used all-purpose flour instead of cake flour for the cupcakes, and that contributed to a slightly coarser but more firm texture that’s transportation-friendly. I baked up about 18 cupcakes with the batter, and I would recommend checking for doneness at around 15 minutes and swapping the racks at half-time. Also, I cannot stress how important it is to sift your flour and confectioner’s sugar before mixing. It’ll help create a more uniform texture with less lumps and clumps.

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Red Velvet Cake
Makes 18 cupcakes
Adapted from Cookie Madness

Ingredients
4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 whole eggs, room temperature
2 slightly heaping tablespoons cocoa powder (natural)
2 ounces (1/4 c) red food coloring
2 1/4 c of cake flour (9 oz), sifted
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Frosting for Red Velvet Cake
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 stick (4 ounces) butter, softened
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 18 (or potentially more) cupcake moulds with cupcake liners.

In bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and salt until light. Add the vanilla and the eggs beating 30 seconds after each egg is added. Make a paste of food coloring and cocoa and add to the creamed mixture. Add buttermilk and flour alternately, beating at low speed until mixed.

In a small cup, combine the soda and the vinegar and let it foam up. Pour the foaming mixture into the batter and stir until it’s mixed in. Immediately pour into the cupcake liners and bake for 15-20 minutes. When a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake emerges without crumbs, it is done.

Let cool for 10 minutes in pan set on a rack. Remove from pan and let cool completely. Make icing.

Beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add confectioner’s sugar slowly, beating until smooth. For a little tartness, beat in some lemon juice.

Chocolate Layer Cake

I don’t know if you know this, but most times, my baking experiments are driven by a need to use up existing ingredients. For this chocolate layer cake, I really wanted to use up my expired buttermilk and the failure of a chocolate frosting I made for a salted caramel chocolate cupcake. In a stroke of genius, Tom suggested that I use the butter-heavy frosting to replace the butter in the cake. I added about a tablespoon of oil in addition to make up for the lower fat content. (The chocolate frosting was made of unsweetened chocolate, butter, and sugar. Unsweetened chocolate has about 50-55% of cocoa butter. Fat content in pure butter is higher than the fat content in chocolate and butter and sugar.)

I thought the cake was very good. It was moist and chocolatey. It’s a denser sort of cake, but I liked it. I think adding substituting chocolate frosting for butter upped the chocolate flavor and also made for a sweeter cake. The chocolate frosting was crap by itself, though. I think it’s because I used natural cocoa powder as opposed to Dutch-processed cocoa powder. Dutch-processed cocoa powder has been processed to neutralize the acids in it, and has a more delicate taste.

Chocolate Layer Cake
Adapted from Cookie Madness
Makes half a 9-inch round cake

1/2 cup boiling hot water
3/8 cup cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (I used 1/2 cup of the chocolate frosting recipe listed below and added 1 tbsp oil)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/8 cup buttermilk (I used 1%)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, or 325 F if using black cake pans.
2. Line a 9 inch round pan with parchment and grease the sides.
3. Combine water and cocoa in a bowl and stir until smooth. Reserve.
4. Mix together dry ingredients. Reserve.
5. In large bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars.
6. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir buttermilk into cocoa mixture.
7. Add alternately with dry ingredients in 3 additions.
8. Pour into pans.
9. Bake 28-38 minutes or until a toothpick comes out barely clean. Cool and frost.

Note:
I used a light-colored pan and mine took 30 minutes. I let my cake cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, and when I removed it, it was still warm but it stayed intact.

Dark Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from 52 Cupcakes
Makes way too much. I halved the original recipe; I recommend halving it again.

1/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon boiling water
1 1/8 cups (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/8 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 pounds best-quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Combine cocoa and boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved.

With electric mixer on medium-high, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the cocoa mixture.

Frosting can be refrigerated up to 5 days, or frozen up to 1 month in an air tight container. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat on low speed until smooth again.

Red Velvet (Albino) Half-Cake

I made a red velvet cake – without red food coloring. I love red velvet cake. I don’t know what is so irresistible about it. Is it the contrast between the deep red cake and the snow white icing? Or is it just the inexplicable flavor of the cake that you can’t put your finger on? Well, this cake I made proves that red velvet cake is delicious even without the red food dye.

It’s called a half-cake because I only made one layer and cut it into half. It is such a sumptuous treat for such a simple cake. There was no butter in it, but the oil made it very moist and flavorful (and a lot easier to mix up too – creaming butter without a mixer is a huge pain). The whipped cream frosting is very simple, and would be a lot simpler if I didn’t have to whip the cream by hand. But hey, the lack of fancy tools to aid my baking helps me to 1) bake less and 2) work out more! And oh, my frosting skills are not quite there yet.

One thing I noted was that the cake sunk a little bit in the center. I don’t know if it’s because I substituted out self-rising flour, or what it is.
Red Velvet Half-Cake with Whipped Cream Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Cookie Madness
Makes half a 9-inch round cake

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 7/8 teaspoons baking powder
5/8 teaspoon salt
(above three ingredients are substitutes for self-rising flour; original recipe uses 1 1/4 cups self-rising flour)
1 tablespoon natural (not dark) cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon red wine or any type of regular vinegar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 large egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cups granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 inch round cake pan with parchment paper and grease and flour the sides.

Mix the flour, cocoa and baking soda together in a small bowl and set aside.

Mix the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla and food coloring together in a liquid measuring cup and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, oil and sugar. Using a heavy duty scraper or large spoon, add the flour mixture and milk mixture to the egg mixture alternately in three parts, stirring until flour is mixed in.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a pick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then carefully remove from pan. If using a springform, you can remove the sides and invert.

Let cool completely.

Whipped Cream Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Allrecipes
Frosts a half-cake, and then some

1 cup heavy cream
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

To make frosting, whip heavy cream till soft peaks form. Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla till creamy. Fold into whipped cream.

To make a layer cake, cut the cake round in half. Ice one half. Stack second half on top and ice the whole half-cake.

Note:
It’s easier to whip cream when the bowl, whisk, and cream is very cold. Adding a tablespoon or two of sugar from the 1 cup into the cream before whipping helps it whip up faster.

Black Bottom Cupcakes

The recipe for these cupcakes are from Magnolia Bakery. I didn’t like them too much, though. The cheesecake filling wasn’t very sweet and neither was the cake. However, the cupcake was much improved upon chilling. The cake took on a brownie-like texture, and the cheesecake filling felt smooth and velvety.

Black Bottom Cupcakes
Adapted from Cookie Madness
Makes 9 cupcakes

Filling:
6 oz cream cheese, not softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp large egg, room temperature
1/6 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Cake:
7/8 cups all-purpose flour
3/8 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder – Hershey’s Dark
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pan with 9 paper cups.

In a stand mixer, beat the cold cream cheese until fairly smooth. Add the sugar and beat until smooth. Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and set aside.

Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; mix well set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the vegetable oil and sugar – I did this with a hand-held electric mixer, but a whisk would probably be fine. The mixture was kind of thick and grainy and didn’t hold a lot of air.

Mix the buttermilk and vanilla together in a cup, then add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture to the oil mixture alternately, stirring rather than beating, until flour is incorporated.

Divide the chocolate batter evenly among the muffins tins and top with a dollop of the cream cheese mixture.

Bake in preheated oven on center for 28-30 minutes. Cool at room temperature for about half an hour and then chill until very cold.

Notes:
The cupcakes came out a little dry. I used natural cocoa powder, not Dutched or dark. I’d bake them a little less and cool in the pan for maybe 20 minutes instead. I didn’t like the mini chips in the cheese filling. Might use different chocolate or eliminate them in the future.