Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Cupboard love: the way to the heart is through the stomach: Red velvet cup cakes

drop-dead, look-at-me-I’m-Instagram-ready gorgeous

They say the way to the heart is through the stomach.If this can be achieved by rustling up a few store cupboard essentials, Valentines day will be a triumph for you.
To be honest, I was never a huge fan of red velvet up until a few years ago. Is it chocolate? Is it vanilla? The flavour always leaves me confused.
But I began to fall in love with it when I bit into a lavish 3 layer slice of red velvet cake at the Mónica Guerra artesan cake stall in the Castro Marim medieval festival.(Mónica is our favourite must have, go to Algarvian cake maker). It was so unworldly moist, very buttery, full of vanilla flavour with a hint of chocolate goodness. And the tang from the cream cheese frosting was the perfect compliment to the indulgently sweet red velvet crumb underneath.Simply put? That red velvet cake was the bees knees.
So I have  worked like a mad scientist on a red velvet cupcake recipe. And I think that I finally  NAILED IT! These cupcakes are Fab-u-lous,darling. And I’m not just saying that,the thespian thinks so too, and the glorious magenta cream cheese frosting I invented for all you Valentine lovelies is just the icing on the cake.You can be sure your valentine will have devoured two before you have even started on your passione d´amore.
Red velvet cup cakes
with pink cream cheese frosting


2 large eggs, room temperature and separated
1 and 1/3 cups (160g) all-purpose flour* (spoon & leveled)
1/4 cup (32g) cornstarch*
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons (6g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120ml) canola or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
liquid or gel red food coloring*
1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, room temperature*

FOR THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
250g mascarpone
2 cups icing sugar
spoonful of milk if needed to thin
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners. This recipe makes 18 cupcakes, so you will have 6 cupcakes to bake in a 2nd batch.
With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat 2 egg whites on high speed in a medium bowl until soft peaks form, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
Sift the flour and cornstarch together to make sure it is evenly combined. Whisk this, along with baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together fairly well. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the oil and beat on high for 2 minutes. The butter may look bitty and not completely combined with the oil. This is normal and ok.
Add 2 egg yolks and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the vinegar and the food coloring– until you reach your desired color. I use 2 Tablespoons. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix. Fold whipped egg whites into cupcake batter with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. The batter will be silky and slightly thick. (If there are still pieces of butter – and there were in 1 test batch for me – again, this is ok. They will melt inside as the cupcakes bake. Making them even more buttery.)
Spoon batter into cupcake liners filling 1/2 – 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when gently touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don’t overbake; your cupcakes will dry out. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.


Prepare cream cheese frosting. 
Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
To make your frosting, beat your cream cheese, powdered sugar and milk,if needed, with an electric mixer.  Add more milk if it’s too thick or more powdered sugar if it’s too thin.  Once it reaches the desired consistency, beat in a few drops of your pink food coloring.
Refrigerate cooled cupcakes.
Keep in the refrigerator 

*Food coloring
Red velvet cake requires a lot of red food coloring, and if that doesn’t sit well with you there are natural alternatives.

  • Pure beet juice
  • Pure pomegranate juice
  • Dried hibiscus flowers steeped in hot water, strained
  • Cranberries boiled with enough water to cover, strained
These substitutes can affect the flavour, though some will be more subtle than others. You may also need to play around with amounts to get the red color you want.I used beetroot juice
 

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