Saturdays are for Baking (Red Velvet Cupcakes)

Red Velvet cupcakes with mascarpone frosting

Red Velvet cupcakes with mascarpone frosting

I spent my Saturday morning in the library. The semester is winding down and I am feeling some pressure to get everything I need to finished. My reward for being so studious today was an afternoon spent baking one of my favorite things: red velvet cupcakes.

The origin  of red velvet cake is credited to the Waldorf- Astoria Hotel in New York. The color may have developed from rationing during World War II, when beetroot juice was commonly used as a substitute to color cakes. Aside from adding food coloring, the vinegar and buttermilk commonly used to make red velvet cake react with the cocoa to bring out a reddish color. So really, red velvet cake is just chocolatey cake wearing a red coat, but I love its color anyway.

cupcake batter all mixed together

cupcake batter all mixed together

I combined a couple of different recipes to make my cupcakes this afternoon. The originals are from the Cooking Channel and Chow. Red velvet cake is commonly topped with cream cheese frosting (which is my favorite kind of frosting), but one of the recipes made a mascarpone cheese frosting and I decided to give that a try instead.

The cupcakes were pretty simple to put together; mix your wet ingredients first, then add the dry and blend together. They baked really fast for me, only 20 minutes opposed to the recommended 25 to 30 minutes. I’m happy with the changes I made to the recipe as the cupcakes came out light and fluffy with good flavor. The frosting was very smooth and tasted almost like whipped cream (as a result of the whipping cream in it) and had a lightly lemon flavor, which I found to compliment the cupcakes quite well.20141115_160446

Overall, a successful afternoon with one of my all-time favorite cakes. Happy baking!

Red Velvet Cupcakes (adapted from the Cooking Channel and Chow recipes)

Ingredients: makes 24 cupcakes

 Cake 20141115_165235

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs (room temperature helps them blend with the other ingredients)
  • 1/2 cups canola oil
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 whole 1 oz. bottle)
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • 1 cup mascarpone (8 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup confectionary sugar, sifted (add more to thicken frosting or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • zest from half a lemon


For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix the sugar with the eggs, oil, butter, buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Add flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Blend until just incorporated.

Grease a muffin pan and divide the batter, filling only halfway so the batter doesn’t overflow. Bake, rotating halfway through, for 20 to 25 minutes (mine only took 20 minutes). Remove the cupcakes and let cool.

For the icing: In a bowl, beat the mascarpone, confectionary sugar, cream, and lemon zest together until the mixture is smooth.

Photos by Jessica McWeeney. 


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