Every bite of this fluffy and moist red cupcake delivers you to a dreamy wonderland from its cream cheese frosting down to the last crumb. You’ll definitely enjoy the luscious texture of this baked treat. Prepare two batches of this recipe because these sweet babies will be gone before you even know it!
I know everyone who has a sweet tooth could relate when I say that bite-sized desserts are superb! As a baking fanatic, I try to find the tastiest baked dessert to satisfy my cravings. Unsurprisingly, I always go back to one of the best comfort food I’ve ever tasted; of course, it’s homemade!
I remember way back when my hubby and I were still dating. I used to make him his own batch of these treats every Valentine’s day. And although he’s not really into sweets, he would devour all those cupcakes in one sitting! My son and I share a passion for sweets, so now I have to bake two batches of these cupcakes to satisfy my boys!
What is Red Velvet?
So, what makes Red Velvet so addicting? The main hook for this food is the color which comes from the chemical reaction of the ingredients. The cocoa powder which contains anthocyanin reacts to the acidity of the ingredients which gives it its iconic red hue.
This food originated as a marketing scheme during the great depression. The plan was to sell more red food coloring since the original ingredients (Cocoa Powder, vinegar, and buttermilk) were scarce. This created many recipes that involved food colorings such as Red Velvet Cake, cookies, and other treats.
The best feature about this comfort food is that it comes in two parts: the muffin and the sweet frosting. Each part is a delicious treat as they are but when combined together, it becomes a total knockout! Trust me, this simple recipe will give your taste buds a sweet and smooth hug you won’t forget.
Here’s everything you need for this treat.
- sifted cake flour
- Cocoa Powder (Regular or Dutch-Pressed, either will do)
- Unsalted Butter
- White Sugar
- Sour Cream
- Large Eggs
- Buttermilk (This homemade recipe should help you with this ingredient.)
- Pure Vanilla Extract (Check out this homemade recipe HERE)
- Red food coloring
- Baking Soda
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Cream Cheese
- Unsalted butter
- Vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar
I know there are some of you that can’t have some of the ingredients above. Luckily, I have a few recommendations on what substitutes you can use for some of these ingredients. Don’t worry, you can find most of these in your local grocery stores plus it’s super affordable.
I know there are some of you that can’t eat eggs, whether it’s because you’re allergic to it or vegan. And a lot of you are looking for substitutes so you don’t have to miss out on your favorite treat. Here are some egg substitutes you can use for your baked treats.
- Eggs are often used as a binder for the ingredients which is why Applesauce is a good substitute. (around 4 tablespoons per whole egg).
- Yogurt also comes close to eggs when binding ingredients (around ¼ cup per whole egg).
- Aquafaba, the viscous water in the can of chickpeas, also acts as a binding vegan binding agent (three tablespoons per whole egg).
The main purpose of Vanilla Extract is to provide additional flavor, even though it’s very light. The composition of this ingredient is mainly vodka or rum aside from the vanilla beans. So if you can’t consume any form of alcohol at all, try using Maple Syrup for a quick and easy sweet fix. If you want to go extra, try using almond extract, this ingredient might be a bit more expensive.
Red Food Coloring
If you want to go all-natural. you can use pure beet juice. The hue of this drink is dark when concentrated but gives a warm even color when mixed with the other ingredients. If you’re allergic to beets, another good substitute for red coloring is hibiscus water which also gives this Sorrel Drink its distinctive color.
Buttermilk is a dairy-based liquid that provides the perfect acidity needed for baking sweet desserts. However, some of our friends might be a bit uneasy when dealing with dairy. Luckily, you can still enjoy these red velvet cupcakes using a mix of plant-based milk and lemon juice.
One of the most popular versions of this dessert is gluten-free. Turn this dish into a waist-friendly dessert by replacing the cake flour with almond flour. The acidity in the buttermilk and vinegar also cuts down gluten formation.
There are a lot of sugar alternatives out there in the market. These substitutes can give your dish the same sweetness without the unnecessary side effects. While there is little effect on the flavor, its consistency and moisture may vary depending on the amount used. I suggest using powdered stevia (plant-based) or Splenda.
Simple Sugar Glaze
Simple sugar glaze is a nice alternative to cream cheese frostings. It’s the liquid form of powdered sugar with a thin consistency. It forms a light crust that adds an additional sensation to every munch. This is usually done on Bundt cakes to add texture and sweetness.
How to Make a Sugar Glaze? Mix sifted powdered or confectioner’s sugar with milk or water. The perfect ratio for flat sugar glaze is 1 and 1/2 cup sugar to 3 tablespoons of milk or water. You can add an additional 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract for a richer flavor.
Tips for the Best Red Velvet Cupcakes
- In making any cupcake, it’s a general rule to only fill the cups halfway. This prevents over spilling when baked
- I suggest sifting your dry ingredients once you finish mixing them. This avoids the formation of lumps when mixed with the wet ingredients.
- Wait for the cakes to cool down before topping your glaze or frosting. Use a blast chiller or a cooling rack to rapidly cool it down. This prevents the frosting to melt.
- Use the toothpick test to check if you have a perfectly baked batch. Prick a toothpick on the cupcakes, if it comes out clean, you’re good to go.
- Instead of scooping your ingredients with your measuring cup, stir the flour around to loosen it, then scoop it to your measuring spoon. Level it with a knife to get a more accurate measurement.
What goes with this sweet dessert? A lot of you have asked me but I highly recommend these easy fixes to perfectly pair with your dessert. Here are my top picks on what to serve with these desserts.
- Ginger Tea pairs well with this tea time snack. The sweetness harmonizes the cupcake with the zingy flavor from the ginger tea.
- Another drink you should consider is this Southern Sweet Tea. The two kinds of sweetness complement each other without overpowering your taste buds.
- Give these best red velvet cupcakes a little bedazzlement with Candied Pecans as toppings, either crushed or whole!
I know you can’t finish a whole batch at once or maybe you simply want to save some for later. Storing these is easy breezy! There are three ways to store these desserts and each way has its corresponding shelf life.
In the Pantry
Generally, storing it in the pantry means keeping it in a draft-free place at room temperature. If you plan to simply cover it, make sure to wait for it to cool down. This will prevent the formation of any moisture in the container. The average shelf life for this method is 1-2 days.
In the Fridge
The fridge provides a much cooler environment for the cupcakes to sit in. This helps slow down any bacterial buildup from the cupcakes. Because of this, the desserts are expected to reach up to 7 days. I personally prefer not to reheat these because the frosting will most likely melt.
Make Ahead Instructions
If you plan on making batches ahead, try freezing your red velvet cupcakes. Bake the bases as you normally would and let them cool down to room temperature before freezing.
I suggest holding back on the frosting. This is because the freezing point for the frosting is different than the base. You can place the goodies in a freezer-safe bag and nicely keep them in the freezer. When frozen solid, it should last for about 4-6 months.
To defrost these red velvet cupcakes, place them in a cooling rack and wait for them to thaw for about 30 minutes to three hours. Once finished, you can now top it with your cream cheese frosting and other add-ons.
More Decadent Baked Recipes
How to Make Red Velvet Cupcakes
Making the Cupcake Base
In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin/cupcake pan (or two 9-inch round baking pans) with baking spray. Or line with parchment paper, if desired. Set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar at high speed in a stand mixer until it’s fluffy and starting to look white, about 4 minutes. Then add sour cream and mix for another minute. Followed by the oil – mix for another minute. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture well between each addition.
Next, pour in the buttermilk, vanilla extract, and vinegar; mix thoroughly. Add the red food coloring until the desired color has been reached.
Slowly add flour mixture into the batter. Then mix baking soda and water and gently fold into the cake batter. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.
Divide the batter evenly by scooping the batter with a measuring cup. Tap the pan on the countertop to release bubbles. Bake at 350 Degrees F for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes sit in their pans for about 10- 15 minutes. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, wrap them in plastic paper and place them in the refrigerator for at least an hour or preferably overnight. This makes applying the frosting so much easier.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Whisk cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until creamy. You may use a mixer if desired. Gradually sieve in powdered sugar, mix as you go until you reach the right consistency. Transfer it to a piping bag and start topping it on your cupcakes.
Watch How To Make It
Red Velvet Cupcakes
- 2 ¾ cups (250g) sifted cake flour
- ½ teaspoon (2.5g) salt
- 3 tablespoons (30g) regular or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 ½ cups (300g) granulated white sugar
- ½ cup (115g) sour cream
- ¾ cup (187.5ml) oil
- 3 large eggs
- ¾ cup (183.75g) buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons (8.4g) pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) vinegar
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) liquid red food coloring
- 1 teaspoon (6g) baking soda
- 2 teaspoons (9.86ml) water
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces (225g) cream cheese
- 4 ounces (113g) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon (4.2g) vanilla extract
- 4-6 cups (500g-700g) powdered sugar
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin/cupcake pan (or two 9-inch round baking pans) with baking spray. Or line with parchment paper, if desired. Set aside.
- Cream together the butter and sugar at high speed in a stand mixer until it’s fluffy and starting to look white, about 4 minutes. Then add sour cream and mix for another minute. Followed by the oil – mix for another minute.
- Add in eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture well between each addition.
- Next, pour in the buttermilk, vanilla extract, and vinegar; mix thoroughly.
- Add the red food coloring until the desired color has been reached.
- Slowly add flour mixture into the batter. Then mix baking soda and water and gently fold into the cake batter. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.
- Divide the batter evenly by scooping the batter with a measuring cup. Tap the pan on the countertop to release bubbles.
- Bake at 350 Degrees F for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cupcake comes out clean.
- Let the cupcakes sit in their pans for about 10- 15 minutes.
- Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, wrap them in plastic paper and place them in the refrigerator for at least an hour or preferably overnight. This makes applying the frosting so much easier.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Whisk cream cheese, butter and vanilla until creamy. You may use a mixer, if desired.
- Gradually sieve in powdered sugar, mix as you go until you reach the right consistency.
- Transfer it to a piping bag and start topping it on your cupcakes.
Tips & Notes:
- Buttermilk and vinegar also break down the gluten in flour resulting in a more tender cupcakes.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.