Thursday, August 7, 2008

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I've made this version of Red Velvet Cupcakes from Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Doctor a few times and I always marvel at it's simplicity. Using the cake mix, pudding mix and sour cream seems so random! And adding the semi-sweet chocolate chips is a hidden surprise. Anyways, it was "Red Shirt Day" today at work (something made up for the hell of it) and I decided to make cupcakes to make it more festive.

These are CRAZY sweet! I like the touch of homemade frosting but personally I am not a big fan of mint. If you feel the same way, you can just omit the peppermint extract and you'll get a more traditional topping for red velvet cake.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
24 paper liners for cupcake pans (2 1/2-inch size)
1 package (18.25 ounce) plain German chocolate cake mix
1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 bottle (1 ounce) red food coloring
3 large eggs
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
White Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

1. Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.

2. Place the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, water, oil, food coloring, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon or scoop 1/3 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. (You will get between 22 and 24 cupcakes; remove the empty liners, if any.) Place the pans in the oven.

3. Bake the cupcakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottoms of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.

4. Meanhwile, prepare the White Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting.

White Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting
6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped (i used white chocolate chips so I didn't have to bother chopping chocolate)
4 ounces (half an 8-ounce package) reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 to 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

1. Place the white chocoalte in a small glass bowl in the microwave oven on high power for 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the oven and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until it is smooth. Set the chocoalte aside to cool.

2. Place the cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until well combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine. Add the melted white chocolate and blend on low speed until just combined, 30 seconds. Add the peppermint extract and 2 cups of the confectioners' sugar and blend on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 30 seconds more. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the frosting is fluffy, 1 minute more, adding up to 1/2 cup more sugar if needed to make a spreadable consistency.

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