Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Tax Refund Party: Fiery Red Hot Red Velvet Cupcakes

In honor of my tax rebate (It's amazing how being unemployed for the first 9 months of the year means you get money back! Hooray, economy!), we threw a little shindig this weekend complete with lots of baking and hardcore dance battles on the Kinect (I'm going to marathon all the Step Up movies to better prepare me and my crew for next time. Now, if I could just figure out how to make light up suits.). Since nothing makes you want to engage in physical activity more than having a stomach loaded with baked goods, I made fiery red velvet cupcakes, whoopie pies with strawberry filling and bananas foster cookies (with some brief assistance from Robin, who I put to work when she came by to kill time.). We'll start, as always, with the cupcake course.

I'm pretty sure we looked exactly like this but hotter.

Fiery Red Hot Red Velvet Cupcakes
Adapted from Cupcake Wars
Servings: 24 cupcakes
Time: 45 minutes

2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tbsp cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/3 cups canola oil
2 eggs
Red food coloring
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
6-7 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Hot Tamales for garnish

I swear they look redder in person.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix the sugar, all-purpose flour, cake flour, cocoa powder, cayenne pepper, salt, baking soda and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat the oil and eggs using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed. 
  4. Add red food coloring and the vanilla extract until well combined (note: you're going to probably have to add more food coloring later because the flour mix is very dark).
  5. Alternate adding the flour mix and buttermilk (flour->buttermilk->flour->buttermilk-> flour) while mixing at low speed. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl and finish off the mixing by hand to avoid the dreaded over-mixing. 
  6. Revel in the awesome bubbles that form from the buttermilk and baking soda reacting (and suddenly remember that you're a trained chemist).
  7. Fill lined cupcake tins 2/3 full with batter and bake for 16-20 minutes or until the toothpick test comes back clean. Be sure to turn the cupcakes once halfway through.
  8. Let cool on a wire rack.
  9. Make the frosting by creaming the butter well then adding the cream cheese and creaming some more until light and fluffy (Cream is used 3 times in that sentence. I'm the best at writing!).
  10. Add the cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Then slowly add the sifted powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until the desired consistency and sweetness is reached.
  11. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes then garnish with two hot tamale devil horns.
  12. Watch the look of surprise and delight on your guests' faces as the heat hits them.
As the night wore on, guests started to give creative decorating tips. Yes, BBQ chips and cupcakes are a great combination.

My goal in life (aside from leading a rag tag group of tough inner city kids to glory in a dance competition where we also learn important life lessons) is to one day win Cupcake Wars along with my cupcake mentor Jenny once Terry's Crafty Confectionery Crafts is established. I have been anxious to try these cupcakes out since I saw them on the show, yet they somehow managed to live up to the year of hype that had been building inside of me. The cake itself ended up spectacularly moist and bouncy (the two most important features) without being oily (I dropped the oil down some from the original recipe). The chocolatey velvet was elevated beautifully by the cinnamon and cayenne that helped turn done to death red velvet into something fresh and exciting. There was plenty of kick in these bad boys to make sure they left an impression. The fiery cake was complimented nicely by the cinnamon cream cheese frosting which helped take a little of the edge off while establishing that red hot candy flavor we were emulating. Also, I was quite proud of myself for thinking up the devil horn garnish (which I'm sure I probably stole from another episode of Cupcake Wars without realizing it.). These were an absolutely stellar addition to the cupcake arsenal that will only continue to grow as I strive to one day take down the world's greatest baking show. Most importantly, however, they were a massive hit, setting the tone for a night of baked goodness and sweet, sweet dance moves.
Even more to come including an exclusive interview with frequent blog guests: table and chair!

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