Last weekend Stu and I went to our first Holiday party of the season. It was hosted by a friend who prides himself each year on throwing out a huge Christmas Ham dinner for all friends and family. He asked each guest to bring a dessert or hors d’oeuvres.

I am really bad at picking out appetizers/hors d’oeuvres. I am good at bruscetta, salsa, or any kind of dip, but not great at picky foods. I plan on exploring this area in upcoming weeks as I prepare for a New Years Eve party, but until then I decided to stick with dessert.

I chose Red Velvet cupcakes, as I figured it was the perfect way to kick off the holiday season. Plus I had been reading a lot about Red Velvet in the past few weeks and was curious to see what they turned out like.

I used a recipe by Paula Deen from The Food Network.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

n a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

The cupcakes came out awesome.  The frosting recipe made more than enough and I shoved it all into a Ziploc bag, snipped off the end, and piped it onto each cupcake; slowly and delicately. It was a process, but well worth it. I bought some of those silver edible shiny ball sprinkles from Fantes in the Italian Market, and sprinkled on tiny ones and topped each cake with a single large ball. They came out very fancy! Some people were even afraid to eat them.

After consulting with a Red Velvet specialist at the party, she decided that the recipe could have had more cocoa powder in it. After reviewing the recipe, it only calls for one teaspoon, but could probably use a whole tablespoon for more sweetness. Red Velvet cake can sometimes border on the “cornbread” taste. But the frosting covered any of that up and made these beautiful treats just as delicious and decadent as they appeared to be!