We are in full on culinary holiday spirit right now, planning and making a variety of delicious treats and meals for us and our family and friends. Last weekend was H’s time in the kitchen to make the cupcake run in both chocolate and red velvet varieties. Most folks are familiar with the chocolate variety, but surprisingly fewer people, particularly outside the South know about red velvet cake. The shocking thing about red velvet cake is how much red food coloring goes into it, but hey… once in a great while is not going to hurt anyone.

The cupcake chef herself, H preparing tasty treats for me to photograph.

For these treats, rather than coming up with our own recipe, H actually borrowed two recipes and modified them to some extent. The Hershey’s recipe particularly needed a chocolate frosting, so H used her favorite chocolate sour cream frosting that she makes for my annual birthday cake. The red velvet cupcake recipe came from Recipezaar here while the chocolate cupcake recipe came from Hershey’s website here and both recipes turned out delicious, moist cupcakes that did not last long. If the links go dead at some point in the future, Our modified versions are reproduced below:

Red Velvet cupcakes

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 ounces water
2 ounces red food coloring
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

cream cheese frosting
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 cupcake cups or line with paper liners.
2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
3. Add eggs and blend well.
4. Make a paste of cocoa and food coloring and add to the butter mixture.
5. Sift flour and salt togethr into this mixture.
6. One at a time, add the following ingredients: buttermilk, vanilla, and water.
7. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and the baking soda. Fold it into the cake batter. Make sure it’s incorporated, but don’t beat it.
8. Pour the batter into the cupcake cups. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched.
9. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then turn out of pan and onto a rack to finish cooling completely.
10. Cream Cheese Frosting: Blend together the following: 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Blend until smooth.

Hershey’s Patriotic Cocoa Cupcakes (with modified frosting)

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) or line with paper bake cups.

2. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, water, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (batter will be thin). Fill cups 2/3 full with batter.

3. Bake 15 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from pan. Cool completely before frosting. Makes about 30 cupcakes.

Chocolate sour cream frosting

1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 c. powdered sugar
3/4 c. sour cream (fat-free or regular)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
milk, as needed, for thinning

1. Melt chocolate chips in double-boiler.
2. Beat melted chocolate, sour cream, butter, and vanilla until smooth.
3. Add powdered sugar slowly, beating until smooth.
4. Frost cake immediately; thin cooling frosting with milk as needed.

* To sour milk: Use 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup.

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