Hello! As I write, it's 8 p.m. and the laundry's in the dryer, the baby's asleep, her lunch for tomorrow is packed, and Mark is on the sofa reading the Sunday Times. Really, it just doesn't get any better than this. Sigh...
We're just back from a weekend in Chicago, where my sweet, lovely, wonderful friend (more like a sister, really) Heather celebrated her marriage to Tim, who we love.
So even though I couldn't be there to bake with her, I wanted to help out. Heather came to NYC a few weeks ago, so I tested out a red velvet recipe for her. When she came to dinner, that's what we had for dessert. She liked them, and that's the recipe she ultimately went with (yay!).
I have to admit, red velvet is not my personal favorite. But if you do like that flavor, this is a great recipe, courtesy of Martha Stewart (you may recall I had similar great results with her one-bowl chocolate cupcakes not long ago). It's very simple to do, and the cupcakes come out beautiful -- plus, they freeze very well. And the recipe makes 24 cupcakes, so if you're feeding a crowd, as Heather was, that helps a lot.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
(recipe by Martha Stewart)
Yield: 24 cupcakes
2 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (I used canola)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. red gel-paste food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. distilled white vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa and salt.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat together sugar and oil until well combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in food coloring and vanilla. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat again. Reduce speed to low. Bean in flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of buttermilk. Beat just until incorporated. Stir together baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to batter and beat for 10 seconds.
3. Divide batter evenly among baking cups, filling three-quarters full. Beat, rotating pans halfway through, until a toothpick inserted into center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature (wrapped well) or frozen up to 2 months (in a ziplock freezer bag).
Hint: Gel-paste food coloring is much more concentrated than the liquid supermarket variety. If you need to swap in the liquid kind, you may need to use the entire 1.5-oz. bottle to get the desired shade.
Cream Cheese Frosting
(recipe adapted from Bon Appetit)
Makes 4 1/2 cups
2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Using an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter until light and well mixed. Beat in sugar gradually. Beat in vanilla and salt. Cover and chill until spreading consistency, about 30 minutes.