red velvet cupcakes

Originally posted: April 2008; Updated July 2014

red velvet cupcake topped with cream cheese frosting and pecan

A good red velvet cupcake really perks up my day. My obsession with red velvet probably began one fine day while watching Food Network’s “Throwdown with Bobby Flay”. Bobby was up against the owner and chef of Auntie Em’s (a cafe and bakery in Eagle Rock, CA). The hubs and I actually made our way there once to try the red velvet cupcake that started it all…my obsession that is. The cupcake was nice, but honestly not as good as when you make it yourself.

I’ve tried a number of red velvet recipes and this one always comes out tops. The flavor, texture, crumb, and moistness of the cupcake is great. It also tastes better (in my opinion), the next day. Don’t refrigerate them though, it dries out the cupcake. If you are making cupcakes in advance, freeze them instead. Also, frost them just before serving.

One thing that irks me is how people think that red velvet should have a chocolatey flavor. It shouldn’t. The cocoa powder contributes to the red velvet flavor, but it shouldn’t overpower the unique rich, sourish, yet sweet flavor. Red velvet is a flavor on its own, so it is hard to describe unless you’ve had it. These cupcakes have a really nice red velvet flavor and that is one reason why this is my favorite red velvet recipe.

red velvet cupcakes!

For the frosting, one can either use a traditional vanilla buttercream or a cream cheese frosting. Personally, I prefer cream cheese frosting as it complements the red velvet flavor very well. I usually top my cupcakes with a walnut or pecan instead of the usual sprinkles. I modified Terri’s original cream cheese frosting as I didn’t want to use 1 pound of butter. The frosting recipe produces enough frosting to frost 1.5 to 2 batches of cupcakes in my opinion, as such, feel free to halve the frosting amount.

plain red velvet, red velvet with cream cheese frosting, red velvet with cream cheese frosting and pecan

Red Velvet Cupcakes

(recipe courtesy of Terri Wahl; taken from here; frosting recipe slightly adapted by me)


For the cupcakes:

  • 15 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 13 ounces granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons red food coloring
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vinegar (white or apple cider can both work)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 cup water

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 1 pound cream cheese (2 standard size packages), room temperature
  • 2 sticks of butter (1/2 pound), room temperature
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt


For the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven 350°F.
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a bowl and set aside.
  3. In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix oil, sugar, and buttermilk until combined.
  4. Add eggs, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla and water and mix well.
  5. Add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix on low, scraping down sides occasionally, and mix until just combined. Be sure not to over mix, or the batter will come out tough.
  6. Line a 16-cup cupcake pan with paper liners, scoop the batter into the liners and bake at 350°F for 20 to 30 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.

For the cream cheese frosting:

  1. Whip the butter and cream cheese together in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until creamed.
  2. Gradually add powdered sugar to the mixture and scrape down the bowl as needed.
  3. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.

The frosting can be used right away, or stored in the refrigerator up to a week.

Frost cooled cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting and top with pecans or walnuts, if desired.


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