i hid your valentines in the breakroom

February 27, 2010 at 4:52 pm Leave a comment

Paula Deen knows her stuff. This isn’t news to anyone, and it was no surprise to me, when I bit into my first red velvet cupcake made using her recipe. Seriously, it was the best cupcake I’ve ever eaten. But when my boss came to the same conclusion, after I snuck some into the breakroom post-Valentine’s Day, I really knew I was on to something.

Cooking is a stress reliever for me. It’s fun, it takes my concentration away from anything that might be worrying me, and if you follow the directions, it usually turns out right. I’m good at following directions. I’ll admit to not being the most creative person in the kitchen, but I’m also fairly new at this whole cooking thing. I have determined that I want to be more creative, and that’s the first step, right?

When I told a few people at work about my baking habit (and about my need to share so that my habit didn’t go straight to my hips), they somewhat-less-than-subtly told me that I could keep it up. And thus, this blog was born! What better way to relieve stress, nurture creativity in the kitchen, and prevent the onset of zeppelin-thighs, than to pawn off all my excess cooking on my colleagues!

So if you like seeing people fail (and succeed!), have a passion for food, or enjoy a good dose of self-deprecating humor every now and then, welcome aboard. I look forward to sharing my hijinks (and my QUEST FOR KITCHEN MASTERY *cough* rather, my attempts to not suck at cooking) with you. And the recipes I love, of course:

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting*

Adapted from the recipe by Paula Deen.

  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour (I used cake flour since I had it on hand)
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (originally called for 1 teaspoon, but in my opinion, nothing has ever been hurt by adding MORE chocolate**)
  • 1.5 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring (if you’re using the little bottles from the multipack, you need two of them)
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350F, and line your muffin pans with cupcake papers. You’ll probably need 2 pans, or just do them one batch at a time, like I had to do. (I just bought a new pan; no more baking in shifts!)

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In a large bowl, mix on low speed the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter among the cupcake tins, so they’re about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes (Paula suggests turning the pans halfway through, but I always forget this step and they’ve turned out great). Test for doneness, remove, and cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

Note: in my experience, Paula’s recipe makes twice as much frosting as you need, so I’m giving you the ingredients for a half batch. If you tend to pile on 4 inches of frosting per cupcake, then you’ll want to double this recipe.

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I didn’t halve this. I love me some vanilla.)
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners sugar

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and, on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

I just frosted the cupcakes with a butter knife, but feel free to be as fancy as you choose.

*I’ll have pictures in the future, I just wasn’t planning to start a blog when I made these, so I didn’t think to photograph them!

**Obviously, there would come a point where you added so much cocoa powder that: A) your batter would be a solid, and B) your red food coloring would not be able to overcome the brown cocoa, and they would cease to be red velvet cupcakes and would, in fact, be mud. Everything in moderation, folks.

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dark chocolate pear cake

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