With Halloween fast approaching, not to mention the looming release of a certain vampire-themed movie, it seemed like the perfect time to create a spooky, vampire bite cupcake.
Right away, I knew I wanted to do a red velvet cupcake. Red velvet seems to be experiencing a massive surge in popularity -- maybe because so many of the fancy cupcake "boutiques" seem to offer them, or maybe just because they're simultaneously comforting and kitchy. Whatever the reason, I find that red velvet is a flavor best consumed in fall or winter. Their intriguing not-quite-chocolate-not-quite-vanilla flavor and slightly heavier crumb can hold up to chilly weather (not to mention a cup of hot cocoa), and they simply beg for a dollop of cream cheese frosting -- the ultimate fall dessert topper.
The cupcakes themselves turned out very well. I adapted my recipe from one on the blog Best Cupcake Recipes. Made with cake flour, the cupcakes maintained a nice texture and a slight moistness. JiT remarked that they were a bit dryer than some of the other recipes I've made, but I thought they were perfect when paired with the gooey frosting. Don't be scared by the amount of food coloring...you could use less but you'll lose some of the disturbing red color.
As for the fang decoration, that was fairly easy to add once they were frosted. Though I've seen a similar treatment done with cherry pie filling, I decided to go a simpler route. I simply dipped a wooden toothpick into red food coloring, then poked a "fang hole" in the frosting, drug a line through to make a blood trail and repeated for the second "fang." Just keep in mind that the food coloring goes a long way, so you only need a drop for each, otherwise the color will start to bleed into the surrounding frosting.
Wishing you a safe and happy Halloween...I hope you have a bloody good time!
Red Velvet "Vampire Bite" Cupcakes
makes 22 regular size cupcakes
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 oz. red food coloring (one full bottle)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl that can be used with a hand mixer), beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go.
Next, with the mixer on low speed, add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beating until well combined, and continuing to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. The mixture will fizz when combined so be sure to use a bowl large enough to contain it. Add vinegar mixture to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Fill cupcake cups with cake batter until they are a little under 3/4 full -- an ice cream scoop measures the perfect size.
Place cupcakes in the oven and bake for approximately 20, rotating pans halfway through. To check doneness, insert a toothpick in the center of a cupcake in the middle of the tin. If it comes out clean, the cupcakes are ready. Remove from oven and let cool in the muffin tins for a few minutes, then move to wire rack to cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting (below) and, if desired, decorate with vampire bite marks.
Cream Cheese Frosting
frosts apx. 2 dozen cupcakes
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 8oz. package cream cheese (or lite cream cheese), softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons whipping cream (more or less as needed to acheive the consistency you desire)
Using a stand or hand mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add in vanilla. With the mixture on low speed, gradually add in powdered sugar, a little at a time until smooth and fluffy. Add in whipping cream and whip on high until frosting is smooth and creamy. Spoon frosting into a pastry bag (I just use a 1 qt Ziploc bag with the tip sliced off) and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Decorate as desired and enjoy.