These Red Velvet Cupcakes are delicious, buttery, moist and so incredibly fluffy. They have a wonderful chocolate flavor and the strawberry buttercream brings the right amount of tartness for this cupcake. These cupcakes are so good, you'll probably end up baking a double batch.
Red velvet cupcakes are easy to find in bakeries, but homemade red velvet cupcakes are the best. They're easy to make and this version has a nice cocoa flavor that pairs with the sweetness of the cake and the strawberry buttercream. I first made these for a friend's birthday party and they quickly became one of my husband's favorite treats so now he gets red velvet cupcakes twice a year.
- Why These Cupcakes Taste So Good
- What You'll Need for this Recipe
- How to Make Red Velvet Cupcakes
- How to Bake the Cupcakes
- How to Make Strawberry Frosting
- Frosting the Cupcakes
- How to Store the Cupcakes
- What Makes Red Velvet Cupcakes Red?
- Pro Tips for Making These Cupcakes
- Recipe - Frequently Asked Questions
- Try These Delicious Cake Recipes
- Red Velvet Cupcakes
Why These Cupcakes Taste So Good
This recipe for red velvet cupcakes is one of the best you'll ever make. The combination of cocoa, vinegar, and baking soda creates a tender fluffy cupcake, and the addition of whipped cream to the batter makes these cupcakes even fluffier and light tasting. That little bit of whipped cream makes the cupcakes rise higher and creates an incredible texture.
The strawberry buttercream is a combination of whipped mascarpone, butter, and freeze-dried strawberries and the strawberry pairs really well with the cocoa flavor. These cupcakes are so good you'll want to double the batch.
And if you need a cake instead of cupcakes for a party of special occasion check out Red Velvet Cake.
What You'll Need for this Recipe
Here's what you'll need to make the best red velvet cupcakes you'll ever have:
- Cake Flour. Cake flour produces a really tender crumb. If you substitute it with all-purpose flour substitute it by weight (257 grams).
- Natural Cocoa Powder. Cocoa powder gives these cupcakes its distinctive chocolate flavor and helps produce the beautiful reddish-brown color.
- Unsalted Butter. Butter adds flavor and moisture. Use unsalted butter to control the amount of salt in the recipe.
- Granulated Sugar. Sugar adds sweetness and moisture to the cupcake recipes.
- Large Eggs. Egg yolks add fat and egg whites add structure.
- Baking Soda and Baking Powder. The chemical leaveners help the cupcakes rise, but the combination of baking soda, vinegar, and cocoa help make these cupcakes fluffy and produce the reddish-brown color of this cupcakes.
- Buttermilk. Buttermilk helps make the cupcakes tender.
- Vinegar. The chemical reaction of the vinegar, cocoa and baking soda help produce the reddish-brown color.
- Red Paste Food Gel. The red gel paste is preferred because it ensures a move even color without having to add a lot of food coloring.
- Heavy Cream. Whipped cream helps the cupcakes rise and produces a fluffier texture.
- Mascarpone Cheese. Mascarpone has a sweet cream taste. Make sure it's a room temperature before making the buttercream
- Unsalted Butter. The butter helps create a creamy texture. Make sure to use good quality butter because the taste will be prominent.
- Powdered Sugar
- Freeze-Dried Strawberries. The freeze-dried strawberries add a flavor plus a nice tart taste that goes really well with the cupcake.
- Vanilla Extract
How to Make Red Velvet Cupcakes
This recipe comes together quickly so make sure you have all your ingredients measured out before you start mixing.
Place a medium-sized bowl and the beater in the freezer for the whipped cream. Chilling the bowl and beater will help the heavy cream whip faster.
Sift the cake flour and cocoa into a medium-sized bowl and stir together. Add the baking powder and baking soda and whisk for 30 seconds to ensure the baking powder and baking soda are evenly distributed.
In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together with a hand mixer until it is lighter in color and looks creamy for about 3 minutes.
Add the egg and beat on medium speed just until the egg is incorporated. You want to be careful not to overmix this batter because it will create a dense cupcake.
Add half the flour mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated. Next, add all the buttermilk and mix on low just until incorporated. Add the remaining flour and mix on low. If there is any flour remaining on the sides of the bowl mix this flour in by hand.
Fold the whipped cream on medium speed just until soft peaks form and then fold it into the batter. Make sure there are no white streaks remaining.
How to Bake the Cupcakes
Fill the cupcake liners 1/2 full. The cupcakes will rise quite a bit because of the addition of the whipped cream.
Once the cupcake liners are filled bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes until they are done. There are three ways to test for doneness:
- Insert a toothpick into the center of one of the cupcakes. If there is no cake batter on the toothpick and only 1 or 2 crumbs the cupcakes are done.
- Check the temperature at the center of one of the cupcakes using an instant read thermometer. The temperature should be about 200F.
- Lightly press the surface of one of the cupcakes with your index finger. If it springs bake immediately then it's done. Only use this method towards the end of the baking time.
Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let them cool completely in the cupcake pan before frosting them.
How to Make Strawberry Frosting
The strawberry frosting is a simple variation of the mascarpone frosting I used for my Red Velvet Cake recipe. I use freeze-dried strawberries to get that intense strawberry flavor and it is delicious.
For this frosting, you'll need room temperature mascarpone and room temperature butter.
Process half the powdered sugar and the freeze-dried strawberries in a food processor.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese and the butter on medium-high speed until it's light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. If making a double match use a stand mixer with the whip attachment.
Add all the powdered sugar including the powdered sugar combined with the freeze-dried strawberries. Start by mixing on low speed until most of the dry ingredients are mixed in, then increase to medium-high speed and beat until the frosting is fluffy and smooth.
Freeze-dried strawberries are great because the flavor is intense and unlike a strawberry purée, you don't have to worry about too much moisture making the buttercream grainy. I get my freeze-dried strawberries from Trader Joe's, which carries a variety of freeze-dried fruits.
Frosting the Cupcakes
Frost the cupcakes with a piping bag and your favorite decorating tip. I recommend using a plain tip or a star tip. If you don't have piping bags or decorating tips use a palette knife to place a dollop of frosting on the cupcake and spread it across the top.
How to Store the Cupcakes
- The unfrosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.
- Frosted cupcakes should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Make sure that the cupcakes are covered because they will dry out in the refrigerator if not dried out.
What Makes Red Velvet Cupcakes Red?
The chemical reaction between the cocoa, the acid in the vinegar and buttermilk; and the baking soda is what gives the cake its red color.
Pro Tips for Making These Cupcakes
- Weigh the flour using a kitchen skill for the best results. A gram is always a gram, but the amount of flour in a cup can vary depending on how it is measured.
- Sift the cake flour and the cocoa. Cake flour and cocoa tend to form small lumps, so sifting is necessary to remove the lumps and ensure all the ingredients are mixed together
- Do not overmix the cake batter. Because of the amount of leavening and the whipped cream, overmixing the batter can result in dense and fallen cupcakes.
Recipe - Frequently Asked Questions
The cocoa reacts with the vinegar and buttermilk and keeps the cake light, fluffy and moist. In addition, the cocoa tastes really great in this cupcake and with the strawberry buttercream.
The cupcake itself has a nice cocoa flavor with a light and fluffy crumb. The frosting has a sweet cream flavor with a sharp strawberry flavor that's perfect with the cupcake.
Accidentally using too much baking soda may result in a bitter-tasting cake. Also using too much food color can change the taste of the cake and result in a bitter taste.
Yes, you can make the frosting without the freeze-dried strawberries. It will have a delicious buttery creamy taste that is more pronounced without the freeze-dried strawberries.
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Red Velvet Cupcakes
- 1-1/8 cups (130 grams) cake flour sifted
- 1 tablespoons (6 grams) natural cocoa powder sifted
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 large (50 grams) egg room temperature
- 1/2 cup buttermilk room temperature
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vinegar
- Food gel red
- 1/4 cup heavy cream cold
- 8 ounces (227 grams) mascarpone cheese room temperature
- 4 ounces (114 grams) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cups (120 grams) powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup freeze dried strawberries
For the Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Place the beaters and the bowl for the heavy cream in the refrigerator.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the cupcake pan(s) with cupcake liners.
- Sift the flour and cocoa into a large bowl to remove lumps. Add the baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk to combine.
- In a large bowl beat the butter and the sugar with a handheld mixer on low for about 30 seconds until the ingredients are combined then increase the speed to medium-high and cream the butter and sugar until it is pale yellow, soft, fluffy, and creamy looking, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape the sides and sides and bottom of the bowl
- Add the egg, beating on medium speed until it is incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl
- Add 1/2 of the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Add all the buttermilk, mix on low; then add the remaining flour and mix on low until it's incorporated. If there is any flour on the sides of the bowl use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl and mix in that remaining flour by hand.
- Add three squirts of red food gel and the vinegar and mix on medium speed until the food gel and vinegar are well combined into the batter. Scrape the bottom of the bowl and fold the batter by hand to ensure it's all the same color.
- For the whipping cream, remove the bowl and the beaters from the refrigerator. Beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Fold all of the whipped cream into the cake batter. Then gently fold the rest of the whipped cream into the batter.
- Fill each cupcake liner 1/2 full with batter. Do not fill more than that. The addition of the whipped cream causes the cupcakes to rise a lot. Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes, remove them from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack.
- Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes then remove them from the cupcake pan and place them on the cooling rack and cool to room temperate, about 1 hour. Store the cupcakes in an airtight container if not frosting them the same day. The cupcakes can be stored at room temperature for about 48 hours or frozen up to 2 months.
- If freezing the cupcakes, wrap each cupcake in plastic wrap. Place the cupcakes in a freezer bag or an airtight container and place them in the freezer. To unthaw the cupcakes, unwrap the cupcakes and allow them to thaw at room temperature.
For the Strawberry Mascarpone Buttercream
- In the bowl of a food processor combine the dried strawberries and the powdered sugar. Process until the dried strawberries and powdered sugar are thoroughly combined and the powdered sugar is pink.
- Combine the mascarpone and butter in one bowl and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the powder sugar and mix on low until the sugar is well combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 3 minutes or until fluffy and smooth.
- Use a piping bag and piping tip to frost the cupcakes. If you use a knife to frost the cupcakes you might tear the top of the cupcake.
Storing the Cupcakes
- The unfrosted cupcakes can be stored at room temperature for 2 days in airtight container.
- Once the frosting is added, store the cupcakes in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 days.