I have a couple different families.
My family family.
My friends family.
My Church family.
And my work family. My coworkers are my family.
Just think about it… You spend more time with your coworkers than you do your family, your kids, your spouse, your friends, your dog. 8-10 hours per day for 5 days straight? Whew! It’s an enormous blessing when your coworkers are as amazing as mine. They are extremely kind, giving, encouraging, crazy, hysterical, sometimes make you sane and other times insane, are always giving credit where it is due, praising one another, cutting up with each other, and most importantly, they want to bring honor to Him in their work.
I absolutely love them. No joke.
So, this past team meeting, we planned to take a little time to have some fun, let loose, and celebrate one another. We had a cookout and outdoor picnic right in the middle of the workday. We grilled hamburgers, hotdogs, members of the team brought coleslaw, potato salad, watermelon… all the usual suspects at an outdoor picnic party.
4 members of the team celebrate birthdays in the month of June and I wanted to commemorate it with lots and lots of delicious Red Velvet cupcakes. Plus, who doesn’t love red velvet cake?
3 words… Cream Cheese Icing.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
(recipe from Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is that? Cookbook… one of my personal favorites!)
For the cake…
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken (buttermilk has a tendency to settle)
1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring*
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
For the icing…
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (3/4 pound or 3/4 of the Box)
All the usual suspects…
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Spray them lightly with non-stick cooking spray just so the liners peel off easily. (I have learned this one the hard way)
2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
And in a separate, large measuring cup or bowl, combine the buttermilk, food coloring*, vinegar, and vanilla.
*Note on red food coloring: this stuff is dangerous! Be sure to wear an apron or other protective layering because once food coloring gets on you, it’s not coming off!
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 1 minute, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined.
You will now have a total of 3 mixtures.
4. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients alternately in 3 parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mix until combined. Stir with a rubber spatula to be sure the batter is mixed. Sometimes pockets of dry mix hide in the bottom of the mixing bowl.
Perfect bulldog red batter.
5. Scoop the batter into the muffin cups with an ice cream scoop or large spoon, just to ensure they are all the same size. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Cool completely and frost the cupcakes with that luscious, delicious, Red Velvet Cream Cheese Frosting.
Loved the crackled, crispy tops. So pretty!
Now comes the fun part…
7 . For the frosting, place the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix on medium speed just until combined. Don’t whip! Add the sugar and mix until smooth.
DO NOT resist the urge to sample. You should not deprive yourself of one of life’s simple pleasures.
It’s absolutely perfection piled high on top of a bright red cupcake.
If you like, you can top these with chopped toasted pecans for extra crunch and garnish. That is certainly a very classic, Old-fashioned way to serve a very Southern, Old-Fashioned cake. But, I felt that these needed no decoration, embellishment, or additional enticement to get the team to gobble them down.
And they didn’t!