Servings: 24 mini cupcakes
2 eggs, at room temperature
4 teaspoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon soft deep pink gel paste food coloring (see tips), even less!
½ cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable oil
1½ cups cake flour (see tips)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup Christmas sugar sprinkles
10 ounces vanilla bean cream cheese frosting (recipe follows), at room temperature
Making the red velvet cupcake batter:
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with ½ cup granulated sugar using an electric mixer. You'll get a pale yellow foam. Add the vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, combine the cake flour, cocoa powder, ¼ teaspoon salt and baking soda. Sift all the dry ingredients.
In another bowl, cream the butter with ¼ cup granulated sugar.
Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. Mix well. Add the creamed butter, buttermilk, oil and red food coloring. Using a spatula, mix well.
Prepare the egg whites: In a stainless steel mixing bowl, place the 2 egg whites. Add ¼ teaspoon salt. Beat the egg whites for about 2 minutes at medium speed. Increase to maximum speed and keep beating for another 2 minutes until the whites are stiff. Add the ¼ cup granulated sugar to maintain the texture of the egg whites. Do not overbeat or the texture will become grainy.
Pour ⅓ of the egg white mixture into the red velvet cupcake batter mixture and gently stir everything to soften the batter. Pour in the rest of the egg whites and, using a wooden spoon, gently fold the egg whites into the batter to get an airy batter.
Line a mini cupcake mold with mini cupcake liners. Spoon the batter into the cups.
Bake for 19-20 minutes at 350°F. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake should come out clean.
Remove from the oven. Allow to cool completely.
Place the frosting in a piping bag. Frost the cooled cupcakes with the vanilla cream cheese frosting (I used a round tip), then top with the Christmas sprinkles.
Enjoy with an unsweetened hot cup of tea.
Little reminder on how to make cream cheese frosting: While the cupcakes are cooling, combine 2¼ cups powdered sugar, 8 ounces cream cheese, 4 tablespoons butter and vanilla beans from one vanilla pod in a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer and beat until the texture is smooth and creamy. Add 1 tablespoon heavy cream for a less dense texture.
I used soft gel paste food coloring (can be found at Whole Foods). You could use liquid food coloring or find food coloring powder in most Indian markets. Next time, I'll use natural color from beets; the color won't be as intense but it will be just as delicious.
You can flavor the frosting with the ingredient of your choice but we decided to go classic with good old vanilla beans this time. And after scraping the grains of vanilla, don't discard the remaining vanilla bean. Just place it in a jar and cover it with regular granulated sugar. Let it sit for a few weeks and you'll have nice, fragrant vanilla sugar. You could also use it to flavor any dairy products by boiling milk or cream with the vanilla bean for making wonderful eggnog drink.
I used Softasilk cake flour.