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Caitlin’s Cupcakes: Blooming Red Velvet Cupcakes

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© 2012 Helana Brigman
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Out of all of my birthdays, my 21st was easily the most low key, but socially important.  Instead of going out to a club or bar dressed in a tiara and sash, I skipped the shenanigans for a glass of red wine with my friend Heather at our favorite college bar, The Whig.  We sipped wine, chatted about all of our boy problems, and felt quite classy now that we could both legally drink together.  (Remember those frustrating days where some of your friends could drink publicly whilst others couldn’t? Let us get a “Hallelujah!” for 21st birthdays!) Now in my mid-to-late twenties, it’s fun to see the next batch of 21 year olds getting their first legal drinks.  Like I once did, my friend Caitlin forced the bartender at Tsunami’s to look at her I.D. and prove her legal age.  Buying your first legal drink is a big deal (like displaying a badge of honor), and I remember all too well doing the same thing some 5 (almost 6) years ago.

Pictured: Caitlin in her 21st birthday sash and garb.  Made specially by Lydia (pictured below).

Last week, I baked another batch of my favorite Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing for Caitlin.  I used these buttercream flowers, these gold star sprinkles, and these flower cupcake liners to make them extra glamorous.  The cupcakes were so pretty, they actually looked like they bloomed in the cupcake liner.  A perfect 21st birthday treat.

Pictured: My new favorite app on the iPhone: Instagram.  With its vintage layers and fun variations, cupcakes look old school and lovely.

Simply bake good quality red velvet chocolate-y batter and dress (once cooled) in homemade cream cheese or butter cream icing.  Top with sprinkles and flowers for a lovely blooming affect.

Pictured: Cupcakes that Bloom- Simply treat the bottom of the cupcake as a stem and the top of the cupcake as a flower.

But some things never change.  Whether it’s your 21st birthday or a friend’s, the best treat is celebrating with one of your best friends at a great bar.  On the Tsunami’s balcony in Baton Rouge, you can see the other bank of the Mississippi River with a glass of frosty beer or chilled wine in your hands.  When using these or like cake decorating tools, simply treat the bottom liner as the stem and the top of the cupcake as the flower.

Pictured: my best girlfriend Lydia (left) and me (right) at the top of Tsunami’s waiting to eat our cupcakes.

Whether celebrating my 21st or Caitlin’s 21st, a cupcake can make the occasion even more special, especially if it blooms.

Blooming Red Velvet Cupcakes

This recipe is my own version of a southern classic and suggests an alternative for Buttercream Icing if you’re not a fan of the traditionally used Cream Cheese.  Both frosting recipes follow and make for a wonderful day to celebrate Valentine’s Day, or any day that demands chocolate.


*1 1/2 cups sugar

*1 stick salted butter, room temperature

*2 eggs

*1 cup buttermilk (can substitute 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice that has set for five minutes)

*1 tablespoon vanilla extract

*1 tablespoon almond extract

*1/2 teaspoon salt

*2 1/3 cups cake flour

*2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder

*1 teaspoon baking soda

*1 teaspoon baking powder

*2 tablespoons red food coloring

–Frosting (Cream Cheese Option)–

*6 tablespoon salted butter, room temperature

*8 oz. cream cheese (regular), room temperature

*1 tablespoon vanilla extract

*2 1/2 – 3 cups powdered sugar (based on taste preference)

–Frosting (Butter Cream Option)–

*1 stick butter, room temperature

*1 tablespoon vanilla extract

*2 tablespoons cream or whole milk

*3 cups powdered sugar

1.) Preheat oven to 375 and line a standard cupcake pan with cupcake paper cups.  In a standing mixer, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy.  Slowly add in 2 eggs one at a time allowing 30 seconds between the second and first egg.  Add milk and extract and mix to combine.  Stop mixer and scrape down sides to make sure the wet batter is fully integrated.

2.) In a separate bowl, whisk together salt, cake flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder.

3.) Combine dry mixture with wet mixture: add 1 cup dry mixture at a time to wet mixture on a low-medium speed until batter is fully incorporated.  Stop mixer, scrape down sides, add 2 tablespoons red food coloring, and return to a low speed until batter is blood red (gross, but lovely).

4.) Spoon cake batter into cupcake cups until 3/4 of the way full (make sure not to over-fill cups as you’ll have *huge* cupcakes, and it will be significantly harder to gage the cooking time and done-ness).  Bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from oven and transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack allowing time for the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

5.) Prepare Icing: if making the cream cheese version, mix together butter and cream cheese in a standing mixer using the paddle attachment until fully integrated.  Add vanilla extract and 1 cup of powdered sugar until combined.  Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar until frosting has the consistency and flavor you like.

If making buttercream icing, add butter, vanilla extract, and cream or whole milk to a standing mixer with the paddle attachment.  Cream together wet ingredients until fully integrated and slowly add powdered sugar one cup at a time until the consistency and flavor you like.

Transfer icing to a cake decorating bag, ice, and dress in sprinkles and flowers.

Serve with candles, blow out, and enjoy!Makes 2 dozen cupcakes.

Red Velvet Cupcake

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Caitlin's Cupcakes: Blooming Red Velvet Cupcakes, 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings
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