These cupcakes have a subtle chocolate flavor, deep mahogany color and lavish swirl of tangy cream cheese frosting on top.
Servings: 24 cupcakes
Prep Time:25 Minutes
Cook Time:25 Minutes
Total Time:50 Minutes
For the Cupcakes
3 cups plus 2 tablespoonsall purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with a knife
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoonsDutch-processed cocoa powder (see note)
1 teaspoonbaking soda
1-1/2 teaspoonsbaking powder
2 sticks (1/2 lb.)unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
1 (1-lb.) boxlight brown sugar (about 2-1/4 cups)
2 teaspoonsWilton Concentrated Red (No-taste) Gel Icing Color dissolved in 3 tablespoons of water, or 3 tablespoons normal liquid red food coloring (see note)
2-1/2 teaspoonsvanilla extract
3large eggs, at room temperature
For the Frosting
1 lb.cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks (1/2 lb.)unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-3/4 teaspoonsvanilla extract
6 cupsconfectioners' sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Lightly grease the tops of the pans with butter or nonstick cooking spray (it's okay if the nonstick spray gets inside of the paper liners).
In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk until well combined and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl if using a hand mixer), mix the butter, brown sugar, food coloring and vanilla on low speed until combined (take care to mix slowly -- you don't want the red food coloring to splatter all over your kitchen). Once blended, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until aerated and pale, about 2 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce the speed to low and add one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk. Add another third of the flour followed by the remaining buttermilk. Finish with the final third of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then spoon the batter evenly into the prepared cupcake pans, filling almost to the top of the liners. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the cupcakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans and set on a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Frosting
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl if using a hand mixer), combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt. Mix on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until aerated and light, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add 2 cups of the confectioners' sugar; mix on low to combine. Mix in the remaining sugar in two additions, keeping the speed on low. Once all of the sugar is mixed in, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
When the cupcakes are cool, use a butter knife or small offset spatula to spread the frosting lavishly over top. The cupcakes are best enjoyed fresh on the day that they are baked.
Note: Most large grocery stores carry Dutch processed cocoa powder. In baked goods, it has a richer, more "chocolate-y" flavor and darker color than natural unsweetened cocoa powder. It's worth getting for this recipe, but natural unsweetened cocoa powder may be substituted if necessary; just increase the cocoa powder to 1/2 cup and decrease the flour to 3 cups. Keep in mind that the chocolate taste won't be quite as pronounced and your cupcakes will be a brighter red.
Note: Red (no-taste) concentrated gel icing color is made by Wilton and sold at craft stores (such as Michael's or AC Moore) in the cake decorating section. It is superior to ordinary liquid red food coloring, which can taste bitter when used in large quantities.
Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cupcakes can be frozen without the frosting for up to 3 months. Let them cool completely, wrap them individually in plastic wrap, and then in foil. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving. (Wait until the cupcakes are defrosted to ice them.)