Saturday, October 31, 2009

Redless Velvet Cupcakes with PINK Frosting

UPDATE: I have since come up with a MUCH BETTER recipe for red (or not) velvet cupcakes. Please see this post!

2009.10.20 Redless Velvet Cupcakes

Happy Happy Halloween! This has GOT to be one of my favorite holidays and I've been LOVING all of the great food (and decoration) ideas popping up on blogs and all over the 'net. If you're looking for something festive to bake, might I recommend the "creepy" cupcakes I posted earlier this month? ^_^
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Now let's talk about cupcakes with PINK frosting (which are admittedly not at all spooky hehe). You see, since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Jen of Beantown Baker announced The Power of Pink Challenge for bloggers to draw attention to a great cause by making pink-colored food. I've been fortunate not to have any history of breast cancer in my own family, but many friends have not been as lucky and one even lost her mother to it at an early age. So please join me in honoring the people in our lives whom breast cancer has affected. On top of that, remember to have regular self and doctor's examinations as early detection is crucial.

I picked red velvet cupcakes but...minus the red. Yea, the idea of dumping a bottle of food coloring into a few cupcakes disturbed me so much that I didn't add a single drop! Ironically I allowed a smidgen into the frosting since it's for a good cause after all. While my "redless" velvet cuppin' cakes are more awkwardly named (;p) and not as show-stoppingly photogenic as the usual ones, I'm quite pleased with the subtle ginger color and slightly tangy and chocolate-y flavor. The texture was a tad dry due to a series of kitchen mishaps that included setting the oven temperature too high. Still despite my clumsiness, we enjoyed them greatly and I hope Jen does too!

Check out these adorable cupcake oven mittens I won!

Redless Velvet Cupcakes [Printable Recipe]
Adapted from Nutrition to Kitchen
Makes about 16 cupcakes

XIAOLU'S NOTES: I omitted the food coloring but you can add 1 1/2 Tbsp red food coloring if you want. Be careful not to overfill or overbake the cupcakes like I did! And don't let the cream cheese get too soft or over-beat the frosting or it will get goop-y and difficult to manage.

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 1/3 cups cake flour (or 1 3/4 cup all-purpose + 5 Tbsp cornstarch)
2 Tbsp cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup + 1 Tbsp plain, lowfat yogurt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Pink Cream Cheese Frosting (Recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line standard muffin pans with 16 paper liners. In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a measuring cup, combine yogurt, vanilla, and vinegar. Set aside.

Say hello to my homemade vanilla extract.
She's been there all along but a bit camera-shy.

With a hand-held or stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until well-beaten.

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Beat on low speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then increase to medium speed until all ingredients are combined. Add 1/2 of the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Repeat the same process until all the ingredients have been added, making sure to end with the dry ingredients. Beat just until batter is smooth.

Bake for about 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes sit in their pans for 5 minutes, then move them to wire racks to cool completely. Frost cupcakes as desired.

Pink Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces (1 cup) cream cheese (low-fat is fine), cool room temperature
1/4 cup (2 ounces or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups sifted powdered (confectioner's) sugar
Red or pink food coloring

In a large bowl beat the cream cheese and butter until soft and smooth. Add food coloring, a drop at a time, until you get the desired color. Note that the color will intensity somewhat with mixing. On low speed beat in the vanilla, salt, and sugar. Start with 1 1/2 cups of sugar and add more to achieve desired sweetness and stiffness. Finally, beat on high speed for a few moments until smooth.


  1. Very cute mittens! Great cupcakes. Good cause!

  2. I agree with you about the red food coloring. I don't mind using a few drops to get a fun color, but for some reason dumping in a whole bottle of red bugs me. Go figure. I think your cupcakes are great, and for a very good cause.

  3. I agree about dumping in a whole bottle of red food coloring. I've done it before but it definitely creeps me out. Thanks for entering my challenge!

  4. Thanks Julia, Michelle, and Jen! I do want to make these again minus the mistakes :). And I've also seen an interesting recipe using pureed beets for the color that I may try sometime...

  5. I absolutely adore the sound of these cupcakes. Definitely a great idea for breast cancer awareness!

    The food coloring thing is weird for me as well. If it tastes just as good, then who cares if it is brick red!

  6. Great cause - and your cupcakes look very tasty :)

  7. I have never added food coloring to red velvet cake either! Doesn't really matter though, the pink frosting gives it enough color!

  8. Very pretty cupcakes! I agree, all the food coloring that goes into red velvet is creepy. I mean, I'll eat it, but I'm still freaked out a little by it!

  9. These are adorable!
    And homemade vanilla extract!??!? Teach us!!!!

  10. I completely agree with you about the food colouring...weirds me out!! And great cause- I recently found a pink chef's knife where proceeds go to breast cancer research, it's too cute!

  11. Thanks, you all! Glad to know I'm not alone in my aversion.

    Koko - That knife sounds adorable! I actually have the pink stand mixer beaterblade that's part of the same series I think.

    Michelle - homemade vanilla extract's actually quite easy and relatively cheap if you get your beans online (I got mine from Basically, you get a glass bottle large enough to hold the beans, slit several vanilla beans open, throw them in the bottle, fill it up with vodka or rum, and (the hardest part) wait 2-3 months.

  12. I found this site by looking for a cheese frosting recipe that contains yoghurt. Do you think you could substitute some yoghurt for some of the creamcheese? I The pink colour is a nice addition. Thank you so much for the vanilla essence recipe. Who would've known it was so easy!

  13. Hi TirraLirra! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. In response to your question about yogurt, I think you could get something more similar to the texture of cream cheese by draining yogurt overnight or even longer on top of some paper towels or cheesecloth inside of a strainer. You'll want to prop up the strainer over a bowl to catch the liquid (whey) that drips off and make sure the strainer is high enough that the liquid can't get back into the yogurt. Check this yogurt periodically until it's the thickness you want. I think you can then substitute some of this yogurt "cheese" for cream cheese. I haven't tried this myself though so I can't guarantee its effectiveness.


I love hearing from you all! Please leave me a message if you have questions, advice, or just to let me know you stopped by. Your feedback is always very much appreciated. Thanks! <3 Xiaolu