Because Baking is Creative: Red Velvet Cupcakes

For me, one of the most fun things about baking cupcakes is making them pretty. Now, I haven't quite made it to the level of decorating with special piping nozzles (although I do have some, hmmm...), but I've been getting pretty creative with a Ziploc baggie.

I made these red velvet cupcakes with the "mini" muffin pan--because bite-sized is so darn cute (and less guilty). Red velvet cake is a classic southern dessert and historically the red comes from beets! Now we use a bucket of red food coloring to make the red so rich. Cream cheese icing and an [optional] touch of coconut on top completes these attractive, sweet treats.

Red Velvet Cake
from The Joy of Cooking and adapted into cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have all ingredients at room temp. Have muffin pans lined with muffin papers and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Whisk together until thoroughly blended:
2 1/3 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Beat in large bowl until creamy
3/4 cup butter

Gradually add and beat on high speed until light and fluffy
1 1/3 cup sugar

Whisk together, then gradually beat in
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beating at low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 parts alternating with
1 cup buttermilk in two parts.
add 2 to 3 tablespoons red food coloring with first addition of buttermilk, beating until smooth and scraping down sides of bowl.

Fill muffin holes 2/3 full and back 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack and top with cream cheese icing.

Cream Cheese Icing
Beat in a medium bowl at low speed until blended
8 ounces cold cream cheese
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla

Add one-third at a time and beat just until smooth and the desired consistency
4 cups powdered sugar

Put icing into a large ziplock baggie and snip off one corner. Pipe icing onto cupcakes in circular motion. Top with shredded coconut if desired.

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