Rose Red Velvet Cupcakes

This week is a free bake: Heavenly Cake Bakers got to pick a cake already baked (including the hundreds Marie baked before the group was set up). I asked Cookie what her vote would be, since she and her husband are responsible for taking at least half of the cake away from me. She initially chose the Whipped Cream Cake, again, but I reminded her it should be a cake I haven't baked yet. So she went with the Rose Red Velvet Cake, but requested her favorite crusty frosting. I told her I'd make cupcakes, so she could frost hers with the crispy stuff and her husband and I could have the proper (and tastier) cream cheese.

Rose Red Velvet Cupcakes

February 15, 2009
Name of Cake: Better Living Through Chemistry
Occasion: HCB
Constituents: rose red velvet cupcakes with Cookie's crusty frosting, or ECL's cream cheese frosting.

Although Rose gives instructions on how to use beets to dye the cake red, and despite the many urgings to try a beet-red cake, I went with the tried and true chemical red food dye. That stuff scares me, but it does make a cake red.

Nobody is really sure where the crazy idea to dump a while bottle of food coloring into a mild chocolate cake came from, but I think it had something to do with non-alkalized cocoa powder. When this kind of cocoa powder hangs out in an acidic batter, the resulting cake had a reddish tone to it. I think the red velvet cake is one of those things that has departed so far from its origins that no one remembers the history anymore. The stuff of legends, it seems.

The fact that no one remembers why it came to be could explain why red velvet cake recipes these days up the acid quotient with white vinegar and buttermilk, but then ruin it all with baking soda which functions to neutralize acidity. I always wondered about that. Rose did more than wonder about it; she re-tooled the recipe to get rid of both the vinegar and the baking soda.

Rose Red Velvet Cupcakes

Again, I have to give butter cakes a big hug hello. Mixing up this cake was easy-peasy. This recipe made 18 cupcakes with the cups filled half full. Next time I'd fill the cups 2/3 and get fewer cupcakes but with a nice little dome.

Rose's red velvet cake calls for only egg whites; while I was digging around in the freezer looking for my stash, I discovered a tub of Cookie's crusty frosting from 2007. Time to use it! Hooray!

Instead of making Rose's Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Frosting, I went with a basic cream cheese frosting.

Rose Red Velvet Cupcakes

The cupcakes were light, tender, and moist with a delicate crumb. However, there was no light chocolate flavor, in fact there wasn't much flavor at all. Very sad. In her notes, Rose suggests modifying the recipe to add 1/4 cup of cocoa and to decrease the flour similarly. I wish I had done that; it would have been interesting to taste what a whole 1/4 of cocoa powder would do to a red velvet cake. The recipe I've used in the past called for 2 heaping tablespoons, and that gave the cupcakes a light chocolate flavor. Unfortunately, these were just little springy vehicles for the frosting.

Ah well. Marie baked this cake last July, please go and read her hilarious post about her red velvet cake.

Rose Red Velvet Cupcakes

I don't know about you all, but I have been glued to the Olympic coverage all week. I keep open to the live results page, I've got the tv on NBC, and I'm watching the curling and hockey matches on I am always a sucker for the Olympics, but these have special significance for me, because as this post publishes Monday morning, I'll be in Vancouver for the Olympics! I'll be back home Wednesday night, so I'll look forward to your comments and posts then. Go USA!


  1. Jennifer, those cupcakes do make an impact, for sure. (I still stand by my feeling that a whole bottle of food colouring doesn't appeal to me)
    But, they do look a good texture and the crusty frosting looks like a snow covered mountain. Speaking of which, it has been snowing here all morning and afternoon! Fortunately, not sticky on the ground for long.
    I haven't got to see much of the Olympics as the TV times are all backwards to our sleeping time!
    We all cheered to hear of our Gold in the luge by Amy Williams. Trust a Brit to win something going over a 100 miles am hour head first on a sledge. CrazyRus!

  2. Curling!!

    It's time to go heat up my lunch and join my co-workers to watch the Canada-US curling match in the common area. Go Canada! Though I admit to a bit of affection for underdogs, so I wouldn't mind seeing the US give them a run for their money. ;)

  3. YOU get to watch LIVE the riveted action of Curling competition? NO FAIR.. booohhhh hooooo!

    *sniff, sniff*

    Oh yeah, the cupcakes... So sad that you were not happy with the end results. Like you the red-velvet cakes is one of my least favorite cakes, I always thought of it as an imposter.

    It's it chocolate? Its it yellow cake? It’s like it cannot make up its mind what it wants to be.

    Enjoy the times in Vancouver! (we are NOT jealous at all)

  4. I made these for my husband for Vday! I think you're right about it being a vehicle for frosting, but the white chocolate cream cheese frosting was so good that it worked out ok. Of course, I pretty much think that all butter cakes are a vehicle for frosting. But the red velvet is very pretty besides, which I guess is probably the main reason for such a cake.

  5. ב''ה

    Great photography! Looks great.

  6. I haven't tried Rose's red velvet, but I must say the color of yours is much nicer than my usual recipe. I might go so far as to say all cakes are just a vehicle for frosting, but I don't want you to think I have an immature palate.

    Have a blast in Vancouver!

  7. I tried the variation with more cocoa, but am sad to report that the taste was still pretty blah to me. And it muted the color, so all that was left was the frosting as a reason to bake this one, I'm afraid.

    At least you had beautiful red cupcakes!

  8. Looks so pretty! I've always wanted to try red velvet cos it looks so pretty and so red which is one of my fave colors. However, like you, the thought of pouring the entire bottle of red coloring scares me too! :)

  9. Green with Envy about your Olympic trip! Love your beautiful pictures. As for curling- my husband has decided that it can not truly be a sport if the women have their hair and nails done!

  10. Jennifer,
    I like that you iced these little red cupcakes with cream cheese frosting - one of my favourites by far.
    How lucky are you to go to the Olympics?! The U.S. is doing so well too! We are extremely proud of the Canadian couple who won gold in ice dance, a first for North America, imagine that.

  11. The texture looks great. Too bad these weren't a favorite. I made Red Velvet Cupcakes recently (diff recipe) and also didn't like them. Same as yours, barely any flavor, let alone a choc flavor.
    Have fun at the olympics!!

  12. Fab photos. I think that pretty much anything that sits under cream cheese frosting will be at least a starter, maybe not the winner, but definitely a starter.

    I haven't seen any of the Olympics! Shame on me.

  13. Melinda, more snow?! Crazy!! We saw women's bobsleigh last night and ohmygosh, those ladies flew by SO FAST.

    Kristina, we are curling addicts now!! We watched the ladies' Canada-China game on Sunday. You Canadians are wild about curling; it was awesome. Too bad for the US teams...maybe next time.

    Monica, I agree, this cake is on the fence--yellow or chocolate or chemical experiement? Vancouver was so much fun!!

    Amanda, yes, the color of the cake, especially under a pretty white frosting is very appealing. Happy late VDay!

    Mendy, thank you!

    Lois, thanks, Vancouver was a blast! I love cake, and I love frosting, but I like my cake to have a flavor.

    Nancy, oh it wasn't much better with the full 1/4 cup of cocoa? Oh well.

    Faithy, thanks! If only they tasted as good as they looked.

    Toni, now that I've spent time watching curling, it is totally a sport. Your comment about having hair and nails done reminds me of my belly dancing class--in order to go exercise we would all put on silk and velvet and tons of jewelry. It made all that ab work fun!

    Oriana, the night the Canadian couple won pairs skating (and such a beautiful routine btw) people were running up and down the streets of Vancouver yelling "GO CANADAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA"
    I mean, people were doing that all day long no matter what was going on, but in response to ice dancing--hilarious. I'm sure the city is wild tonight after the Canada-Russia hockey game!

    Hanaa, thanks! I wish that red velvet was a better tasting cake.

    Nicola, thank you! Cream cheese frosting has saved the day, more than once.


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