So, you ever have some sort of food that makes you think you have died and absolutely gone to Heaven? Does it make you close your eyes, breathe in deep, and savor every ounce of flavor that has exploded in your mouth? Do you stay as silent as possible, not wanting to disturb your taste buds as they do the happy dance all over your tongue? People, I think I just had a holy moment – one of those “talked to God” moments. I think I can safely say that I have experienced the mecca of all meccas, the crème de la crème, what’s been hiding in Pandora’s box, and the ambrosia of the gods. I finally caved and realized I’m in love. And it’s the perfect time of year for this scrumptious kind of affair. I can only be referring to one thing. That’s right people.
We’re talking Red Velvet Cupcakes.
My kids’ birthdays are coming up next week. I was one of those (un)fortunate people that had to be fertile at the same time of year. My kids are 3 years and 3 days apart. Because they are so close together, most years we have cake left over from one birthday when we are celebrating with a new cake for the next birthday. To save ourselves some calories (um, yeah), I decided that this year we would do cupcakes instead. And I’ve been hearing a lot of hype over Red Velvet Cupcakes.
Last week I went to a coffee shop (I won’t mention the name) where they were selling the little confections. Literally, they were little – about a bite. And it was being sold for the low price of $1 each. But they looked so cute and pretty that I bought one for Mr. Wonderful, and talked him into giving me one little bite. Seriously, it was nothing to scream about. It was a cupcake. Dyed red. Whoop-de-doo. So my first encounter with the so called Red Velvet Cupcakes was not love at first bite.
But I wasn’t ready to give in.
Today I did our bi-weekly grocery shop, and after some research on the internet, found all the ingredients for a recipe that sounded pretty promising. The author swore that this was the absolute of all Red Velvet recipes, and who was I to argue? I took her word for it. I bought the cake flour she said to use. I bought TWO bottles of red food dye (two? seriously?). I bought a carton of buttermilk that may end up souring past Easter if I don’t make several batches of these cupcakes, or at least some buttermilk pancakes. I even bought Baker’s Sugar instead of just using my regular sugar at home, because, gosh darn it, these were going to have every chance of really being the best.
After dinner, and when all the dishes were put away, I got to work. She was very explicit in her directions as far as timing went and how fast or slow to add each ingredient. I followed it to a tee. Unfortunately, I was so in tune with making things perfect that I forgot one little detail…..
Be sure to turn the mixer off when you lift the top.
After cleaning up all the red goop off of me, the floor, the stove, the wall, the ingredients, the microwave, and the ceiling, I was ready to pour the batter into the cups and bake them. They baked 10 minutes before I had to turn them, and then they baked 10 more minutes. The result was just gorgeous.
While they cooled, I created the cream cheese frosting that goes along with it. Note about frosting: when they say “confectioner’s sugar”, make sure that you have some powdered sugar on hand. It was the one thing I forgot to buy at the store. Luckily, there is a subsititute. While frosting made with powdered sugar is way better, if you don’t have it, here’s the trick. Take one cup of regular sugar (I used more of the Baker’s sugar) and add one Tbsp of corn starch. Put it in your mixer, and then let it blend on high. It will form a cloud around the mixer. And if you just spent the last 15 minutes cleaning red batter off of everything in a 3 foot radius, it will stick to the damp surfaces. So it is helpful if you place a towel over the mixer while it mixes. My recipe calls for 3 and 3/4 cup powdered sugar, so I added almost 4 Tbsp to 3 and 3/4 cup Baker’s sugar. The result wasn’t half bad.
My daughter and I each frosted the cooled cupcakes with just a knife, gently swirling on the frosting. Yes, it can be done much fancier. But this was just my trial run, and I actually liked the homemade look to them. Plus, this way we could really goop it on. And you know what, they were almost too beautiful to eat.
Because of my stinkin’ desire to keep off all the weight I lost last year, I wasn’t about to eat one of these little treats myself. If I even ate one, I would just want another. So I relied on the kids to describe to me what they taste like.
“They’re really good!” the Taz told me, his mouth full of red, gooey goodness.
“But do they taste different from other cupcakes?” I asked.
“I don’t know…” the Drama Queen said. “I don’t really taste chocolate in them.”
“I don’t think you’re supposed to,” I told her. “It’s more about the buttermilk and other stuff in them that is supposed to give them a lighter taste to them. What does it taste like?”
“Mom, why don’t you just take a bite of mine?” DQ said. I may have mulled it over for a second, but I’m not sure. Everything kind of blurs from the moment I bit into the light cake and pulled away. It was then that I was literally transported from the kitchen to a meadow of green grass and fresh air, sunshine that I have almost forgotten about with all this damn rain, and where they serve little red cakes in white paper wrapping on a silver platter – ready to be snatched up and savored till the last crumb.
They’re good, you get it.
Don’t ask me how I only took one bite without going in for the kill. I think just the one out of body experience was enough. And I know you’re dying to try your hand at this recipe. I won’t hold out. I’ve posted it over in the Santa Rosa Mom forums, and hope that you’ll experience the love affair with Red Velvet Cupcakes like I did. Believe me, it’s worth it.