Christmas Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting are the perfect Christmas dessert! The cream cheese frosting simply melts in your mouth while the crushed up candy canes give it a festive crunch!
Christmas Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting was a fun baking project I did with my daughter! These Double Chocolate Cupcakes were what we were thinking of baking. Instead we explored red velvet. Let’s talk a little about where the red velvet came from!!
Red Velvet Cake is a cake whose origins is full of mystery. I like a good mystery. I like a good cake! Was it invented at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City? Was it invented in the South? Was it invented in Canada? (YES, maybe in Canada!No offense to my Canadian friend;) When was it invented?
The cake shows up in newspaper recipes from at least 1959. In 1961, one Canadian newspaper advertised the “new” Red Velvet Cake available at Eaton’s. Some have doubted that New York’s Waldorf-Astoria ever served the cake. The red cake was associated with the Waldorf in 1959. An urban myth (similar to the Neiman Marcus cookie recipe myth), states that the Waldorf had charged hundreds of dollars for the recipe, so a customer took on her own revenge and distributed the recipe via chain mail.
The famous annual Pillsbury Bake-Off cooking contests were held at the Waldorf in the 1950s, and it’s possible that the Red Velvet Cake was popularized at one of these contests. Waldorf-Astoria Cake recipes appeared in newspapers in the early 1950s, but this cake was different from the Red Velvet Cake. All red velvet cakes have specific ingredients in common: white vinegar, buttermilk and baking soda. The reaction of the vinegar to the buttermilk is said to bring out the red in the cocoa powder.
The New York Times did an article on the cake titled, So Naughty, So Nice. This is how they describe the cake: “It’s a cake that can stop traffic. The layers are an improbable red that can vary from a fluorescent pink to a dark ruddy mahogany. The color, often enhanced by buckets of food coloring, becomes even more eye-catching set against clouds of snowy icing, like a slash of glossy lipstick framed by platinum blond curls. Even the name has a vampy allure: red velvet.”
A red velvet cake was featured in the 1989 film Steel Magnolias, which led to a great resurgence of Southerners recreating the recipe for themselves. The armadillo-shaped red velvet cake served as a groom’s cake for one of the film’s main character. In 2002, the Red Velvet cake became even more popular when Jessica Simpson served a towering hexagonal version at her wedding to Nick Lachey. I admit it…I cried when they broke up!! Did you?
The color is stunning! The deep red color of the cake contrasting with a fluffy, snowy white icing is a little naughty… and oh so nice!
I made these cupcakes this weekend with my daughter. We stained the kitchen. Just a little bit. We forgot to wear our cute French country chicken aprons again! Then we shared a few with my neighbors. They were REALLY excited. And those greedy neighbors asked for more! The crushed candy canes on top make it, “Taste like Christmas.” I agree with my daughter. These Red Velvet Cupcakes taste like Christmas. Make it without the crushed candy canes any time of the year! But for the holidays, the candy canes make them a little extra special!
**You can make your own buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar to milk and letting it stand for about 10 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Saveur
Christmas Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar
- 1/2 cup 1 stick of butter, room temperature
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 2 1/3 cups of cake flour*
- 2 tablespoons of Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup of buttermilk**
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of red food coloring
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 cup of butter 1 stick, room temperature
- 8 oz of Philly cream cheese 1 package, room temperature
- 2 - 3 cups of powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1-2 regular sized candy canes crushed
- colored sprinkles optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer for 3 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
- In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla extract, and red food coloring *(it will fizz!).
- Add a fourth of the dry ingredients and mix, then add a third of the wet. Continue adding in a dry, wet, dry pattern, ending with the dry ingredients.
- Scoop into cupcake papers (I use an ice-cream scoop), about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Rotate the pan after the first 15 minutes of baking to ensure even baking.
- Allow to cool for one minute in the pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes.
- Cream the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
- Add the vanilla extract and mix.
- Add the powdered sugar, continually taste to get to desired sweetness. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.
Enjoy the cupcakes with your sweetheart. Your neighbor. Your cute kid. By yourself!
I am linking my Christmas Red Velvet Cupcakes to Cupcake Tuesday. Check out Liz’s adorable Gingerbread Pop Cupcakes. 🙂