February 6, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes (Bonus: Love Stories)

This Valentine's season I am in love with people who are in love:
Mary and Matthew from Downton Abbey (the only show worth watching on TV, FYI), even though they won't tell each other.

The 17 million couples  I know (yes, I counted) who got engaged in the past few months and for whom I am want-to-squeal-and-quit-my-job-to-help-wedding-plan-full-time excited.

(Modern) Southern food blogger goddess Nealey Dozier of Dixie Caviar who was proposed to with a most perfect-for-her-relationship Lego video involving lots of food (I am kind of obsessed with it; you should watch it and read Nealey's story behind it).
Yes, I will talk about cupcakes later in this post after I finish my love story rant. Sorry.
The God-so-ordained-the-timing story of the Simmons marrying together their family of nine I got to write for 280 Living (thanks, Mom, for saying, "I think the neighbor married some woman with five kids," when I asked her for story ideas). I loved how they told me about having hip hop dance parties in the kitchen and then all eating dinner together most nights, and how the husband completely lit up when he talked about his wife's Gouda Cheese Grits and the outer, crusty part of her Crockpot Chicken and Rice.

Anyway. As usual, I am also in love with baked goods. So I felt the need to make the cupcake recipe we were running in The Homewood Star this month. The photo that had been submitted was so-so, so I thought I'd try to take a better one with my fancy new camera Christmas present. Which meant I had to bake the cupcakes myself. Darn. Yet another round of Madoline-finds-any-excuse-to-bake-whatsoever.

The only problem was the recipe was vegan, and power to vegans but I wasn't about to buy soy milk and soy cream cheese or leave eggs out of cupcakes. So I tweaked it. I also left out the "chocolate extract" because who buys chocolate extract when you already put cocoa in something? Not me. What is chocolate extract anyway?

Homemade cake batter wins again. I am starting to hate box mixes more and more. Beware my cake snobbery.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Adapted from Jennifer Champ Wallis, who adapted it from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or any vinegar)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil 
2 eggs
2 tablespoons red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pans with cupcake liners.

Whisk together milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle.

Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl and mix well.

Add the remaining wet ingredients to the curdled milk and whisk well. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry, mixing until large lumps disappear.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting when cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners' (powdered) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix together margarine and cream cheese with a mixer until combined. Add the powdered sugar in 1/2 cup batches, mixing until smooth and creamy. Mix in the vanilla.

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