Sunday, December 18, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Several years ago at Christmas, I decided to try to make a red velvet cake.  It was a full-on, oil, butter, egg, and sugar concoction, and it came out pretty well.  But I was dismayed to learn that what gave the cake its signature look was two bottles of red food coloring.  I assumed there was some greater trick.

It turns out, there is.  Or, rather, there can be.

Fresh beets!

But, it's tough. You have to get the Ph of the cake to be just right in order for the beets to maintain their red coloring through baking.  And mine did not.  The result, though brown, was a rich and delicious cupcake that wasn't at all too sweet.  Even if it also wasn't all too red.

There's always next time.

I based my recipe on one from Bake Cakery.  I, of course, subbed out the oil, whole eggs, white flour, and sugar.

¾ cup pureed beets (I roasted them at 350 degrees for 1 hour, with about 1 inch of water in the bottom of the pan, covered with aluminum foil).
¼ cup orange juice
1 tsp. plain, fat-free, Greek yogurt
½ tsp. balsamic vinegar
4 egg whites
¾ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
⅔ c. honey
½ c. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together all of the dry ingredients and set aside.

Blend the wet ingredients until uniform.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until combined.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of the center comes out clean.

Cool before icing.

I frosted them with a honey cream-cheese frosting recipe I found at Redbook.  This frosting couldn't be simpler.

2 packages of organic Neufchatel cheese [I don't use "cream cheese" because it has a surprising amount of crap in it -- preservatives, gums, artificial flavors, etc.  The organic Neufchatel cheese I found was not perfectly clean either, but it was much, much better than the cream cheese.]
1/3 cup of honey
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Beat the Neufchatel cheese, honey, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Chill until stiff enough to spread.

I iced the cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting and served with a drizzle of honey on top.  The flavor is complex and pleasing for an adult (not too sweet, and almost bitter / a good way), but not too refined for my toddler!

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