Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe comes from the book Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski. Whereas traditional red velvet cakes have subtle chocolate undertones, these feature some serious chocolate flavor. The original recipe calls for four drops of food coloring, but I bumped it up to ten to give the batter a festively artificial glow. What can I say? I like my red velvet unmistakably red.

For cupcakes

  • 1.5 cups cake flour
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • 10 drops red food coloring
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg, room temperature

For frosting

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make cupcakes

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven 350F. Prepare cupcake pan with liners.

Sift together cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, vanilla, vinegar and red food coloring; set aside. In another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg.

Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk mixture in 2 additions, beating on low speed until combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20-22 minutes. Let the cupcakes cook in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

Make frosting

In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high spped, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar and mix until thoroughly combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Use right away, or if the consistency is too soft, refrigerate until the frosting is spreadable, about 15 minutes. Optional: sprinkle with cocoa powder.

Makes 12 cupcakes and 2 cups of frosting.

Recipes from Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski.

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6 Responses to “Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting”


  • oh, I love cupcakes and yours look just delicious! One question though, were these moist and light or are they denser/more cakelike in texture? I like them moist and light, but find that many recipes tend to yeild a more dense cake like outcome. Do tell…

  • Anh - These turned out dense and cake-like. I prefer a moist and light cake as well. Perhaps this recipe from the NY Times will hit the mark? I will test it out soonish.

  • Good for you – I’m always wanting a little more robust chocolate flavor in red velvet too!

  • I love red velvet! Well, mostly I love cream cheese frosting. But seriously chocolate-y red velvet is something I’m going to have to look into…

  • Just made these cupcakes… YUM!!
    These are quite dense, but I would make them again just for the icing… Going to take them to work tomorrow… if they last that long!

  • I wish I read your comments before starting to bake. I have these cupcakes in the oven now. They are brown not red, and I added the egg at the end when I realized it was omitted from the instructions. Ugh… proof read, proof read, proof read….

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