Monday, June 13, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes look pretty ordinary on the outside.....

Lately I have been watching parts of the latest MasterChef Australia. The parts I love are learning new recipes, "meeting" renowned chefs and being introduced to different foods and ingredients. One of the parts that annoy me is the harsh, unnecessary criticism "dished" out by the judges who then are surprised that their victim  is upset. Or the system of elimination which is not always very fair or just. The "reality" show is certainly not about finding the best untrained chef in Australia. But sometimes MasterChef Australia actually inspires me. I mean, who on earth would not want to devour one of those Red Velvet Cupcakes after watching Nigella take a bite. Nigella swoons over food as only Nigella can. Nigella enjoys food with no guilt whatsoever. So should we!

...but quite spectacular inside.

Red Velvet cakes have been enjoyed in the U.S. and Canada since the 1920's but does not have a long history in Australia. I have for a long time wanted to try Red Velvet cake though when reading through the recipe have really just thought "light chocolate cake" - nothing special. However, I have proved myself wrong. This cake benefits from the flavour of buttermilk and possibly a reaction of the bicarbonate of soda and the vinegar. The flavour is not chocolate and not vanilla but a flavour all of its own and the texture is deliciously velvety. I am truly impressed by this cake. ( My family love it, too! In fact, I will make another batch today!)

The uncooked mixture is gorgeous!

Red Velvet Cupcakes (adapted from Nigella's Kitchen)

Makes 12 muffin size cupcakes

250g plain flour
2 x 15ml tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100g soft butter
200g caster sugar
1 rounded teaspoon red powder colour dissolved in 2 teaspoons hot water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
175ml buttermilk
1 teaspoon cider vinegar or other vinegar

Preheat the over 170C and line muffins tins with paper
Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarb into a bowl.
In another bowl, cream butter and sugar, beating well until pale and fluffy. Beat in the food colouring and vanilla.
Beat in a tablespoon of the dried ingredients then 1 egg, followed by some more dried ingredients, then the other egg, followed by the rest of the dried ingredients.
Finally beat in the buttermilk and vinegar and divide the mixture between the cases. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack and ice only when completely cold.

Buttery Cream Cheese Frosting
(this was way to much frosting for my 12 cupcakes)

500g icing sugar, sifted
125g cream cheese
125g soft butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice
shaved chocolate to decorate

Beat butter and cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Add icing sugar. Beat to mix. Beat in lemon juice to make a smooth icing.
Ice each cupcake and sprinkle with chocolate shavings. 

There is not much left. I had better made more!