Have you ever made red velvet cake? I have, twice, and from two different recipes no less. You always here that velvet cake can be a little tricky (or maybe that’s just me?), and indeed, my first attempt was mediocre. It had a decent flavor, but the texture was all off, and it was quite dry. So the second time I tried a different recipe and unfortunately fared little better. You see, red velvet cake is kind of a thing in the south. We’re known for our cakes down here, and you’d be hard put to find a cake that is more decadent and steeped in tradition than this one. Everyone’s grandmother has her recipe, and each one is better than the last – and bless your heart if it’s dry or flavorless. So when I was told that the favorite cupcake flavor of the guest of honor at the bridal shower I was co-hosting was red velvet, I was a little nervous.
I have a confession to make here: I love to host things. I love to entertain, to have guests over, and to see people enjoying something I’ve baked or prepared just makes my day. It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy it, and I really want everything to be just perfect. Because I had had two previous red velvet duds, I was worried that these might turn out the same. And to make things a little more interesting, I had decided to make them “Blue Velvet Cupcakes” to go along with the bride’s colors, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get just the right color blue. I ended up following a recipe from Sprinkle Bakes that had “Finding the perfect hue” in the title. I’ve had good luck with Sprinkle’s recipes before, so I ran with it, and what do you know? Perfect cupcake, perfect color. I will probably use this recipe for velvet cake in the future, and just change the color as I please (Orange velvet cake anyone??).
Following Sprinkle’s instructions, I purchased Wilton gel food coloring and used a combination of blue and violet to get that deep navy blue. I used just the tiniest bit of green in the frosting (another of the bride’s colors), and I was really happy with how they looked. My crafty co-host made those cake stands you see above, as well as most of the other decor, and I think everything came together really well to make this a very special day for the future bride.
Our third co-host (that’s her adorable son up there enjoying the crackers) provided the entertainment, and since she’s something of a game guru, that of course turned out perfectly. She has this great game where she passes out paper bags with small kitchen items in them and you have to guess what the item is by feeling it through the bag – no peeking! It sounds easy, but some things are really hard to tell without looking.
To sum up: cupcakes – decadently delicious, decor – visually stunning, games – wildly entertaining. In short, we spent a lovely afternoon showering the bride-to-be with love and gifts, and everything turned out perfectly.
Blue Velvet Cupcakes
This is an adapted Paula Deen recipe. The food-coloring portion has been modified to create (what I consider) the perfect shade of blue for Blue Velvet Cupcakes. The frosting is also not original to the recipe.
2 cups sugar
1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter, at room temp
1tbsp cocoa powder (I used Dutch Cocoa)
1tbsp Wilton royal blue gel food coloring
1 small dab Wilton violet gel food coloring
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp vinegar
1 lb cream cheese, softened
1/2 lb butter (softened)
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cupcake pan(s) with paper liners.
In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter, mix until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time and mix well after each addition. Mix cocoa and food colorings together to form a paste, and then add to sugar mixture; mix well. Sift together flour and salt. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture.
Pour batter into cupcake papers. Batter will be thick! Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy. Frost the cupcakes with a butter knife or pipe it on with a big star tip. Embellish as desired.
A few notes:
I got 24 cupcakes out of this. There’s no way I was only going to get 14. I actually could have gotten 26, but I may have, um, sampled the batter.
This stuff is blue. Really blue. Don’t wear your favorite apron, and don’t use your cute decorative hand towels.