Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Red Velvet Firework Cupcakes with Vanilla Icing

One of my coworkers recently let me borrow her cupcake book, and she really wanted me to try the red velvet cake recipe. This cupcake book was the More from Magnolia dessert cookbook. I had her book for months, and didn’t get a chance to try it at all.

Then came July 4th and I asked for suggestions for dessert ideas. A few people asked for red velvet cupcakes. For our annual July 4th bbq, I made these red velvet cupcakes, topped with a firecracker design inspired by the Wilton site. I told my sister in law I would try making the design. However I think the icing that was paired with this cupcake recipe was too thin to use for piping. It was supposed to be used to mound on top of the cake.


Now, I’m not too fond of the commercial cupcake places. Usually their cakes are too dense and the frosting too sweet. My theories were confirmed when I bit into the cake and found it a bit dry. Granted, I did make several adaptations, but I did the same for the other red velvet cake recipe, and that came out fine.

My sister in law also made a red velvet cake using my previous recipe. Personally, I like the Cake Man Raven recipe better, adaptations and all. I also like the cream cheese frosting pairing better.

cmr red velvet

I couldn’t believe the Magnolia recipe called for 6 TBSP of red food coloring. I halved that and only used 3. I thought using basically two 1 ounce bottles of red dye would be overkill. I thought the batter was plenty red after only 3 (although you can’t really see it in the pic above, you can sorta tell in this one.)


Also, although this isn’t the greatest substitutions, again, I did this with the other recipe with no problems. I subbed buttermilk powder and water for the buttermilk, and a blend of flour/cornstarch for the cake flour.  I’m not sure if it was because I made the substitutions, but I was able to get 34 cupcakes out of this instead of 24. I saw some of the reviewers mentioning that the icing was too gritty, but I had the opposite problem, I thought it was too thin. I guess I overbeat the frosting a bit too much, but it also could have been the 100° weather we were having that caused it to melt too much.

Magnolia’s Red Velvet Cupcakes with Creamy Vanilla Icing
adapted from: More from Magnolia, also found on Epicurious

printable recipe

3 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons red food coloring
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Creamy Vanilla Frosting (I halved this)
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (I used low fat)
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners (or line one tin and allow to cool before lining again).

To make the cake:
In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.

In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 1 hour. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

to make the frosting:
In a medium-size saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk until smooth. Place over medium heat and, stirring constantly, cook until the mixture becomes very thick and begins to bubble, 10-15 minutes. Cover with waxed paper placed directly on the surface and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, on the medium high speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter for 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating continuously for 3 minutes until fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat well.

Add the cooled milk mixture, and continue to beat on the medium high speed for 5 minutes, until very smooth and noticeably whiter in color.

To create the red, white and blue frosting, divide the batter in thirds, (adding more to the blue one). Dye 1/3 using a royal blue color and dye 1/3 with a red color, leave 1/3 white. I used about half a (1 oz) tub  of gel color for each of the ones that were dyed and mixed it in with a fork.

Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Use immediately.

To create the fireworks, pipe with the grass tip, pulling away from the cake each time.

Makes 24 cupcakes.


  1. For cream cheese frosing, I think your fireworks icing looks great. The colors are really vibrant.

  2. These look delicious!! Great fireworks on them. I agree with you!! 6 tbsp seems like too much! Yours came out with a really great red color!
    Would you mind checking out my blog? :D

  3. For cream cheese frosing, I think your fireworks icing looks great. The colors are really vibrant.


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