Red Velvet Cupcakes

I have loved everything red velvet since I first had a Crumbs red velvet whoopie pie when I was 12 - back when they were still open (RIP.)  The richness of the moist cake complemented by the sweet-yet-tangy cream cheese frosting...I was one bite in and immediately bought a second whoopie pie.

As my interest in food deepened over the years and my experience in kitchens expanded, I began to play with flavors and textures, as any wannabe chef would.  However, I still viewed my red velvet with cream cheese frosting as an untouchable combination.  That is until a friend commissioned me to bake her birthday cupcakes: red velvet cake, but no cream cheese frosting.  Thrown, I had no idea what to do.  And she wanted these cupcakes to have an Oreo base.  Complications on top of complications, I tell ya.  What would be light enough to cut through the richness of the cake, yet enough to stand up to the flavors of a buttermilk-and-chocolate cake – with an Oreo at the bottom? A stabilized vanilla bean whipped cream, that's what.

I took one bite and forgot that cream cheese ever existed.  The whipped cream is light and airy, with a subtle hint of sweetness, and really lets the flavor of the cake shine.  These cupcakes were so good, I might not make red velvet anything with cream cheese anything ever again.  I adapted this recipe from Saveur, where I used to work, yet of course changed it up a bit to make it my own.  I also placed an Oreo at the bottom of the cupcake liners before scooping in my batter.  This is totally optional but it does taste so very good.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • 16 tbsp salted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup pastry flour
  • 1 tbsp cake enhancer
  • 2 tbsp triple cocoa blend
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp red food coloring
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup bakers sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • Oreos (optional)

Vanilla Bean Stabilized Whipped Cream

  • 1 1/2 bakers sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups salted butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

Preheat the oven to 350º F.  You will need 24 cupcake liners, or, if you're making a cake, two 8 inch cake bans, well-buttered and lined with parchment paper on the bottom.  Combine the flours, cake enhancer, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.  Combine the buttermilk, food coloring, and vinegar in another bowl and set aside as well.  Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, along with the vanilla.  Add half of the flour mixture and beat just until combined, followed by half of the buttermilk mixture.  Then add half of the remaining dry mixture, followed by the rest of the buttermilk, and finishing off with the last bit of dry.  Beat until just combined, and pour into prepared pans.  Bake cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes, or the cakes for up to 30.  Remove from oven, let cool almost completely, and then finish cooling on a cookie sheet.

Meanwhile, prepare the frosting by combining the flour and sugar in a small saucepan.  Add milk, and stir with a whisk to combine.  Stirring occasionally, allow the mixture to boil over medium-high heat.  Stir frequently until it becomes thick like a pudding.  Remove from the stove and let cool.  In a bowl, using whichever mixer, beat butter, both vanillas, and 1/3 of the pudding mixture until smooth and fluffy.  Add another third, mix until smooth, and repeat for the final third.  Place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to fully stabilize.  Frost or decorate your cupcakes!

My name is Alexandra Jade, but you can call me Alex, or Trin.  I am a Food Studies major at New York University, and a freelance photographer, journalist, and social media pro on the side.  I run the instagram account @twobrunchgirls.