Red Velvet Cupcakes

I’ve been struggling with this post since I started this blog.  Why, you may ask?  This is just a basic red velvet cupcake, no? 

No.  This cupcake is special.

You see, a little over two years ago, my very tight-knit extended family lost one of our own.  My dear cousin Molly passed away suddenly.  She was a year younger than me,  a triplet, an aunt, a sister and a daughter.  And smart.  Beautiful.  Young, kind, and soft-spoken.  Molly collapsed immediately after finishing a half-marathon and didn’t come back to us.

My heart broke that day.  Molly was too young, too full of life and too special to all of us.  And while I will never understand the pain that her brothers, sister and parents endured, I know how difficult it was, and continues to be, for me.  My family – we’re among the lucky ones.  We are close.  We aren’t broken.  Even though my dear Grandparents both passed on several years ago, we still gather many times a year to celebrate birthdays, holidays, new babies and anniversaries.  We even vacation together every other summer.  We’re lucky because I believe that every single one of us understands how blessed we are to have each other. 

The last time I saw Molly was about a week before her race.  My youngest daughter was six months old and in her “stranger-danger” phase and wouldn’t go to anyone but me.  But that night, she let Molly hold her for a long time while we talked.  And though this was before my blog was born, Molly and I were talking about baking.  She mentioned that had planned make her favorite – a red velvet cake – to contribute to our holiday pot-luck that night but didn’t have time.  She was going to make it for Christmas, she decided. 

Since then, every time I see a recipe for red velvet, I think of Molly.  I’m thankful that she reinforced to me and my family just how precious life is.  As tragic as it is that I had to learn that lesson in her passing, I’m forever grateful for that moment of clarity.  It’s changed my life. 

So Molly, these cupcakes are for you.  Topped with a heart. 

Friends, while you enjoy these cupcakes, take some time to focus on the good things in your life.  Share them with your kids, laugh at each other when your mouths turn red, or just take some time to count your blessings.

Thanks for hanging in there with me for this post.  I know it’s not my usual tone, but this one has been weighing on me for a while.  I needed to make these and I needed to make them good.

Hope you enjoy.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Yield:  24 standard cupcakes
Prep Time:  30 minutes ♦ Bake time:  18-20 minutes

Red Velvet Cupcakes
2 and 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
1 tsp salt
2 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
2 eggs at room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 and 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp red gel food coloring , or to color preference
2 tsp vinegar
1 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.  I like to use dark cupcake liners so the red doesn’t seep through.   In a large bowl, whisk together cake flour, cocoa and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, beat sugar and oil until well combined.  Add eggs one at a time, beating each until just combined.  Add vanilla and red food coloring.

Alternate flour and buttermilk in three batches – mixing well between each addition, starting and ending with the dry mixture. In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar and baking soda, then add to batter. Mix until just combined.

Fill cupcake liners 1/2 to 2/3 full, and bake 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons heavy/whipping cream
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese until completely incorporated and light and fluffy – about 5 minutes.  Add powdered sugar, vanilla and whipping cream and beat slowly to incorporate.  Slowly increase speed and beat on medium-high for 5-8 minutes or until very fluffy.

Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes before frosting.  Store frosted cupcakes lightly covered in refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Recipe Inspiration and Sources:  Cupcakes adapted from All Things Mamma  Frosting recipe is my own.

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  • Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie

    I am so sorry to hear about Molly. These cupcakes are beautiful.

  • vic@cakebook

    beautiful cupcakes :)

  • Anonymous

    This was a beautiful tribute to a young woman who was taken too soon. Young people aren’t supposed to die, however they do. Families and friends are fractured, and they take a long time to heal. I’m sure Molly would be proud of these cupcakes!

  • Anonymous

    I was a friend of Molly’s. These cupcakes are as beautiful as she was.

  • MummyDLIA

    I am making these cupcakes today with my 6-year old daughter in prep for Valentines Day next week. Thank you for the recipe!

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  • Deasha

    Just made these cupcakes for a church function. While we thought the cupcakes were great, next time I will definitely reduce the cream cheese to 8oz for the frosting. Didn’t taste much like frosting to me, only tasted the cream cheese. Love your recipes, so glad I found your blog.