I’ve been away for a long time – both from my oven and from my blog. Let’s see… what’s happened over the last few months. One, I have a new nephew who makes me laugh and smile and that I can’t wait enough for him to grow up so I can bake for PTA meetings, birthday parties, cupcake day at school and the like. Two, work has kicked into high gear. Yes, I do have a day job and it does not involve me whipping sweet delicacies in the kitchen. Three, I’ve been traveling… a LOT… from the sunny beaches and boogie boarding in Hawaii, to kayaking near the mavericks in Half Moon Bay, to rich and spicy food expeditions at a big fat Indian wedding and vegan Koren fare in K-Town New York.
I recently moved apartments and to my delight, have a kitchen that’s twice as large with a brand new cooking range and oven. And, my apartment managers have been super nice to me and patient with all my maintenance requests. So, when it came down to it, I HAD to bake them some cupcakes. The question was, which one?
I remember the first time I had a red velvet cake. It was my friend’s birthday and we actually got it from Carlo’s in Hoboken, NJ – almost chocolatey, but not quite, heavy, rich…decadent. But I couldn’t have more than half a piece. This is what I don’t understand about the typical American cake – how heavy it is and how the sweetness and fat overwhelms the flavor of the ingredients. It’s why I iterate with every recipe I find on the web – to make it less sweet, to bring out the flavors and cut down on the fat.
So, here’s eggless red velvet cupcakes – iterated so that you can taste the blend of almond and chocolate melded with the delicious salty-sweetness of cream cheese frosting.
Makes 12 cupcakes
1 cup milk (2% fat or more)
1 cup minus 1 tbsp sugar
11/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp liquid red food color
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond essence
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (white will also do)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Cream cheese frosting
11/2 cups or enough for 12 cupcakes
7tbsp unsalted butter, softened not melted
8 oz cream cheese (full fat or 1/3rd less fat), softened
11/4 sifted powdered sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
Make the cupcakes
- Mix the milk and vinegar and set aside for 5 minutes to thicken.
- Sift the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- Add oil, vanilla, almond essence to the milk and vinegar mix.
- Gently fold the liquid mix into the flour mix. Make sure you don’t beat it too much.
- Add red food color and continue to mix.
- Pour into a lined cupcake tin and bake at 350degrees for 20 minutes or till a knife comes out clean.
- Set cupcakes aside to cool before frosting.
Whip the frosting
- Cream the butter, cream cheese and vanilla with a beater until smooth.
- On a low setting, add the sugar till incorporated. I usually add a little at a time and do a taste check to see how sweet I like it. I often don’t end up using all of the sifted sugar.
- Add the salt.
- On a high setting, beat for a few seconds until light and fluffy.
Quick tip: If you’re in a rush, simply put the butter in warm water to soften it.
Make it work
Frost the cupcake with your deliciously whipped frosting. You can also take a knife and scoop out the center and fill it with the cream cheese filling to get more frosting in every bite.