Red Velvet Cocoa Cupcakes

Valentine’s Day is today and what better way to express your love then with a baked good? Especially a red baked good…

Red velvet is a mainstream cake flavor these days but this wasn’t always the case. Believe it or not, in my ever-growing collection of vintage cookbooks, I’ve only ever found one book that contains a recipe for such a cake. The origins of red velvet cake are tricky to pinpoint. Many people would tell you that it originated in the Southern United States, however, in all my old Southern cookbooks, recipes for red velvet cake are decidedly absent.  There is also a rumor that traces the cake back to the Waldorf Astoria in New York in the 1920′s when it became the hotel’s signature dessert.  

Wherever it originated, there are a few elements that are stay constant in most recipes for red velvet: cocoa powder, an acid like buttermilk, a mixture of vinegar and baking soda, and, of course, a bucket of red food coloring.

Red velvet happens to be one of Collin Murray’s favorites and this recipe did a fairly good job of satisfying his craving. This cake is tender and has just a hint of cocoa flavor and is fairly moist. When coupled with the Milky White Frosting, it makes for a very tasty Valentine treat.

Red Velvet Cupcakes (adapted from The New Saint Louis Symphony of Cooking cookbook)

Makes 12 – 14 cupcakes

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

28 ml bottle red food coloring

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 ¼ cup cake flour

1 cup buttermilk

A frosting of your choice

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs on at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the cocoa, vanilla, and salt and mix till there are no lumps in the batter, about 1minute. With the mixer on low, slowly add the food coloring being careful not to increase speed until all the coloring has been incorporated into the batter – this will reduce the risk of the food coloring splashing out of the bowl of the mixer. Continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the baking soda and vinegar. The mixture will bubble up; allow to settle. Stir before using.

After scraping the sides of the bowl down with a spatula, alternately beat in the flour and the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour; beat for one minute. Add the baking soda-vinegar mixture and mix for 30 seconds. At this point, the batter will look pink, not red, but the color will darken after baking.

Using a large ice cream scoop or a ¼ cup measuring tool, scoop the batter into the paper liners until they are two-thirds full. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into one of the cupcakes in the middle of the pan comes out clean.

Allow to cool fully, then frost with the frosting of your choice (Baking Vintage suggests the Milky White Frosting).

3 Responses to “Red Velvet Cocoa Cupcakes”
  1. Cords says:

    you should try using either a gel colour or going to an indian store and finding a powder red colour, mix it with your vinegar and use that instead. These are very pink and red velvet should be red haha!
    The bottles of liquid dye are not potent enough and often leave the cake very pink
    I prefer your versions though, as my fave colour is pink ^_^

  2. Katie says:

    Vintage recipes can be tricky! I’ve tried beet powder and generally use gel coloring when baking non-vintage but I’ve never tried powdered red color — thanks for the tip!

  3. Kit says:

    Good day! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay. I’m definitely enjoying your blog and look
    forward to new updates.

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