Rules. They are everywhere. At work, when they are mandatory to follow, we call them “policies” – but sometimes we create rules that could have exceptions, those are called “guidelines”. At home, they are just called rules and for the most part, our girls are complete rule followers. When they were very young, under 3, they would repeat rules to themselves. They both did this, even though they were three and a half years apart. It was hilarious, they both loved the rules, it gave them structure and they always knew where the lines were.
The rule we most often need to remind them about now is to finish your work before you play. Fortunately for them, they can actually do that. I am a rule follower as well, but I realized years ago that rule was just not one I would keep up with. There would never be time to play if that were the case. My work is never done – not just at home, but at work. I have this fantasy that eventually I will be completely caught up with everything I need to do. I have been waiting 14 years for that to happen. This week is no exception, I have had so much going on, that I have not even been able to break away to post these cupcakes. The funny thing is that I am a morning person. I do my best work in the morning. Usually I am on the first bus of the morning, just so I can have some quiet time to crank on work before the craziness begins. My blog though gets the shaft. At 9pm, I am spent. But I power through it, and somehow manage to get a post done. This week it just didn’t happen. So here I sit on the bus, my mind as sharp as it gets, words flowing out of my head freely. Good thing I have to get off the bus soon, this could turn into a very long post!
I don’t usually mix work with baking, but I donated cupcakes in an auction we had for charity in the fall. I have done this before (remember these?) and I swore I wouldn’t do it again, but here I was. This time it was a much more pleasant experience – she let me choose whatever cupcakes I wanted! What a gift. The only problem was she wanted them to share with her team on Friday, which meant weeknight baking – but as I tell my kids – dig deep, you can do it – you can do anything you set your mind to. I was so excited to try these cupcakes from this awesome cookbook Cooking My Way Back Home, it wasn’t too hard. I decided to make minis, which would yield more cupcakes for her team. I have to admit, I didn’t actually get to try the cupcakes, but they looked amazing. These were real red velvet, not chocolate with a little red food coloring – this was the real deal. I did get a spoonful of the cream cheese frosting – and what is not to love. I heard these were a big hit – I certainly had fun making them. Even though it was a Thursday night, and I was exhausted from the week, once I got that pastry bag in my hand ready to frost – I was a million miles away – in my happy place. My older daughter helped me with the hearts on top, which is starting to be our specialty when it comes to red velvet. They add just a little extra special touch. She wanted to help with the entire process….but she had work to do. Fortunately for me, my work that night was making the cupcakes.
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup canola or safflower oil
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring
- 1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 mini muffin-tin cups with paper liners.
To make the cupcakes, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into the bowl of a stand mixer. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, egg, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Add half of the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until a paste forms, stopping to scrape down the sides and along the bottom of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula. Add the remaining wet ingredients and mix until smooth. Do not over-mix the batter or the cupcakes will be tough.
Fill the prepared muffin cups two-thirds full with the batter. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then remove from the pan.
To make the frosting, in the stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed until smooth. Don not whip! Add the butter and mix until incorporated. Use the rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and along the bottom of the bowl to check for lumps. Sift in the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until smooth. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
Spoon the frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch star tip and pipe a rosette onto the top of each cooled cupcake. Serve right away. They will keep for a day in an airtight container.
For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting