"For I was hungry & you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty & you gave me something to drink..."

Matthew 25:35

Monday, July 19, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Italian Buttercream

Red Velvet Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz. red food coloring (two bottles)
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

*sift the flour first & then measure it out & then sift again.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.

2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps; set aside.

3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go. 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, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.

4. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. (it'll fizz up!) Add vinegar mixture to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Using an ice cream scoop, fill cupcake cups with cake batter (they should be 2/3 – 3/4 full). The amount of cupcakes you get will vary- i got about 15 or so. Place muffin tins on the middle rack of a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for approximately 20-22 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don't over bake!

5. Cool the cupcakes in their tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Italian Buttercream

Candy thermometer
8 egg whites (room temp)
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 cups sugar (fine sugar is best)
1 cup water
1 1/2lbs room temp butter (cut into tblsp) this = 6 sticks of butter
Flavoring: vanilla, chocolate- etc etc

You’ll need a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment

- Whip the egg whites until foamy- then add cream of tartar & whip until stiff peaks form

While the whites are whipping- start your syrup

- Combine the sugar & water in a saucepan over medium-high heat & bring it to exactly 240° (keep a close eye on it- you don’t want it to be too high or too low. If it gets to 250 ° that’s ok- but no higher)

Your whites should be nice & stiff by now. Turn off your mixer & add some of the syrup (try to pour it right in, not down the side of the bowl) - turn the mixer on & mix it up. Add the rest of the syrup like this (fairly quickly) and then keep your mixer whipping (just don’t pour it in while it’s whipping because you don’t want splatter)

Now- whip that stuff on high until the outside of the bowl feels about room temp (ie: not hot like it will feel after adding the syrup)
Whipping times will vary but I had to whip it for literally 25 minutes- so feel free go about your business & let the mixer do its job.

When the bowl feels pretty cooled down (a little warm is fine- just not HOT because you don’t want to melt the butter) you can start adding the butter.

I suggest you take your butter out and cut it up into tblsp sizes (doesn’t have to be perfect) while it’s nice & cold. Throw it all into a bowl & let it reach room temp. The important thing is that the butter isn’t COLD but you don’t want it melty either. It still needs to be a little firm- so JUST at room temp is good. Think like…sitting cut up in the bowl for about 1 hour or so in a warm kitchen- you know?

If you just can’t seem to get it right- better a little cold then too warm!

- switch out your whisk attachment for your paddle attachment- turn it back on high & start adding the butter 1-3 pieces at a time. Let it whip for a minute or so & add some more- do this until all the butter has been incorporated.

Now- you’ll notice that as soon as you start adding the butter, your wonderful fluffy frosting will collapse. DO NOT FRET! As you whip & whip & whip….and WHIP- it’ll come back. I promise.
So don’t stamp your feet & start crying- because whipping fixes everything. I promise.

Once all the butter is added- keep whipping until your mixture comes back- might take 5 minutes, might take 10- might take more (it literally only took like 5 minutes for me)- it all depends. But if you’re in doubt- WHIP!
It’ll start looking nice & fluffy & if you stick your finger in & pull some up- it’ll hold it’s shape. Then you know it’s done!

- Now you add your flavoring.

If it’s vanilla- throw in 1-2 tsp. if it’s chocolate- then add 1-2 squares of melted (and cooled) UN-sweetened chocolate.

Hint: if you want it to have a different flavor, Heat a handful or two of the berries of your choice with the sugar and water and strain them out before proceeding with the recipe.

Whip whip whip- taste & you’re done!

This stuff is great. It’s nice & light & not too buttery. But it holds it’s shape when you pipe it out or spread it on cakes. It’s absolutely awesome.
This recipe will give you more than enough to frost half a sheet cake & decorate. I even had enough left over to frost about 25 cupcakes.

But it’s ok! Put the leftovers in a freezer safe container ( I put it in a glass Pyrex bowl with a lid) and pop it in the freezer. It’s good for up to 3 months. When you want to use it- take it out & let it thaw overnight at room temp. whip it for a minute or so & it’s good to go. Tastes just as good as when you 1st made it!

It seems like a lot of work- and it sort of is copared to American Buttercream- but it’s SO worth it & honestly- your mixer has the hard job.
Just make sure your ingredients are a good temp & that your syrup comes to 240° and you’ll be good to go
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