Red Velvet, the dish Wednesday, April 30, 2008I would dearly love to mail you all these cupcakes- but I fear they would arrive a broken, crumbled mess. I think the only solution is for me to make a cross country road trip stopping in various cities bringing you all my cupcakes*. A modern day Johnny Appleseed, except you know, a woman. And not apple seeds but cupcakes. And you could bet your ass I'm not walking.
So not really like Johnny Appleseed at all.
But lets get down to it. For the red velvet cupcakes I used Smitten Kitchen's recipe, usually I would turn to my mother's but I couldn't find it and why not throw caution to the wind and try something new. Her recipe turned out fantastically, it was a deliciously damp cake- blood red, of course with a decent cocoa flavor. The recipe itself it is a bit step heavy, but that I don't fault her for- every red velvet recipe I've read is most certainly be-labored with interesting bits (dissolving baking soda in vinegar- mini volcano in a cup!). I also think Deb has hit upon the right balance of sweet and tang for the cream cheese frosting.
My coworkers were the guinea pigs for these and they all declared them to be the best they'd ever had. Commenting on both the wonderful cake base and frosting.
Decorating the cupcakes was easy-peasy, I used an extra large star tip (like the kind that can be found in this set). Then starting at the edge I make a clockwise swirl using a continuous even pressure (hint: make sure there isn't any air trapped in the bag as it can cause 'hiccups' and mess up your pretty frosting). Once you get the the starting point continue the swirl except move it inward and continue repeating the motion until the cupcake is covered. Upon reaching the center pull up on the pastry bag while releasing the pressure. That should ensure a nice little pointy tip.
Practice really is the key, get yourself some parchment and practice piping frosting onto that. Once you've run out of frosting scrape it off the parchment and back into the pastry bag- no wasted frosting.
For these cupcakes I only filled them about 1/2 full with batter because I wanted the cake to barely crest the tops of wrappers. The recipe makes itself makes a lot of cupcakes done this way- about 48. And because I so liberally frosted them it took 2 batches of the frosting to cover them all.
*Can I please take moment to wonder aloud why "bringing you all my cupcakes." sounds vaguely dirty? Perhaps I just need to be thoroughly kissed to relieve this perceived pervy-ness in my writing.