Can you believe that I’ve never made red velvet before? I’ve always wanted to but it always seemed so daunting to make them. Every time I watch Cupcake Wars on Food Network, Florian always mentions how difficult it is to make red velvet so I’ve always been discouraged to make them. But one day, I woke up and I was severely craving red velvet cupcakes. I didn’t really want to drive all the way to Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills and it’s not like I was going to go to my local grocery store to fulfill my obsessed craving so I set out into the kitchen to try and overcome my fears.

Florian mentioned that people mistake red velvet as a red cake when it is actually a chocolate cake with a little bit of red food coloring. So I set out to find a red velvet cupcake recipe utilizing the most cocoa powder and of course, Ina Garten came to my rescue. Her recipe created such decadent chocolate cupcakes with a beautiful red color that was just light and fully and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Now I didn’t actually use Ina Garten’s recipe for the frosting because I wanted to have a 1-to-1 ratio of butter and cream cheese for this cream cheese frosting. Instead I used Brown Eyed Baker’s frosting recipe, which was absolutely phenomenal, perfectly light and sweet with a hint of vanilla.

I can’t believe it took my this long to make red velvet cupcakes but it was definitely well worth the wait and fulfilled my craving to a whole another level.

Red Velvet Cupcakes (adapted from Ina Garten):

Yields 15 muffins 

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I substituted this with 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice topped with 2% milk to make 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

For the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from Brown Eyed Baker):

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside. (If you don’t want to use paper liners, you could coat a muffin pan with cooking spray instead.)

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, red food coloring, vinegar and vanilla.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well combined.

With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients alternately in 3 parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated. (Stir with a rubber spatula to be sure the batter is mixed.)

Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray.

Place into oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the butter and cream cheese on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar, beating just until incorporated.

Add the vanilla.

Increase the speed to medium high and whip until the frosting is light and fully, about 1-2 minutes.

Use a small offset spatula to spread the cupcakes with frosting. (I piped the frosting using a large Wilton 1M star tip.)

These cupcakes are best when served the same day but can be stored in the fridge for several days. Just be sure to bring them to room temperature before serving.