It all started with a red jacket.
The color reminded me of a bottle of red food coloring I had purchased over a year ago with the sole intention of making red velvet. I never did, but since then, I have laid lips on several red velvet cupcakes, always to be disappointed—they are usually far too dry and flavorless.
Finally I decided that I had to make some red velvet cupcakes of my own before I could legitimately write them off as "just pretty" desserts. Because I don't enjoy cream cheese frosting, I demand more of the cake: moistness in addition to flavor (usually bakeries carry red velvets that deliver neither, though they are beautiful to look at).
My first batch of red velvet cupcakes was successfully moist, but lacked flavor. I guess one out of two isn't too shabby. I need to find another recipe or give this one a makeover. Two major thoughts came to mind as I polished two of them off while they were still warm: 1. Needs more cocoa flavor. 2. Not sweet enough. (Perhaps because I did not make the frosting?) I liked the flavor of the buttermilk, though its overly subtle sweetness made me feel like I was eating an incredibly soft, bright red biscuit. Weird.
If you ask me, red velvet has been skating by on its looks for far too long. People fall in love with the contrast of its color against the cream cheese frosting, but what about us cake and crumb lovers? We want a cupcake that is so good that it doesn't make us think twice about shamelessly licking the crumbs off the wrapper.
And so I implore you to demand (and produce!) cupcakes with flavor and delicate texture, not just cutesy looks. A cupcake's beauty only runs frosting-deep. It's time that we made a serious effort to produce a red velvet that is as moist and tender as (gasp!) pound cake. I love it so. And I hope someday I will be able to love red velvet too.
Recipe for "Red as my Jacket" Red Velvet Cupcakes (to be edited at a later date):
2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 c. canola oil (a little less, if possible)
1 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 Tbsp red food coloring (depending on how red you like it)
1 tsp white vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix wet and dry ingredients separately and add wet to dry. Fill cup-lined muffin tins almost to the top. Should make exactly 18 good-sized cupcakes. Bake for 20 minutes.