Lucy's Friendly Foods

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing made into festive snowmen

I’ve always wanted to master the red velvet cupcake, but all my attempts have ended up being a slightly less chocolatey chocolate sponge rather than anything remotely red. Whilst in my mind the idea of using heaps of food colour to make a cake red is a little bit bonkers, the contrast of rich red sponge and white cream cheese icing is rather appealing and just right for a festive vibe.

Apparently the real key for a red velvet is to use beetroot powder, but I didn’t have any in, and you might not either, so this recipe uses an extra strength food colour. Whilst these sponges will be even redder with beetroot powder, you get a nice red sponge with just a hint of cocoa. 

The cream cheese icing, or frosting if you’d rather, is a wonderful recipe. It’s sweet and packed with vanilla but also has a cream cheese tang than contrasts brilliantly with the rich cocoa sponge. Keep this icing recipe to hand as it also works brilliantly on a carrot cake or even a ginger cake.


I make these gorgeous cupcakes at any time of year, but why not make them into these cute frosty snowmen by topping with half a marshmallow and drawing a face, buttons and arms with some piped chocolate. (see the notes at the bottom of the recipe for more detailed instructions)

Snowman in a blizzard 🌨

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan Makes 6
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Course Dessert, Snack
Servings 6


  • 100 ml dairy-free milk
  • ½ tsp vinegar or lemon juice
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 100 g self-raising flour
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • ½ tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ tbsp custard powder or cornflour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 50 ml flavourless oil
  • ½-1 tsp extra strength food colour
  • For the cream cheese icing:
  • 50 g dairy-free margarine
  • 40 g dairy-free cream cheese I used Oatly Creamy spread
  • 220 g icing sugar sifted
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • To decorate into snowmen:
  • 6 marshmallows
  • 20 g dairy-free chocolate melted
  • Icing sugar to sprinkle


  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Fill a cupcake try with six cupcake liners.
  • In a jug or small bowl combine the milk and vinegar/lemon juice and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the self-raising flour, caster sugar, cocoa powder, custard powder and salt.
  • Add the oil and vanilla to the milk mixture and stir well. Pour into the dry ingredients, add the food colour and stir well until you have a nice smooth red batter.
  • Divide between the six cupcake liners and bake for 16-18 minutes until a knife comes out clean.
  • Move to a wire rack and leave to fully cool.
  • Next, make the icing: whisk all the ingredients together until you have a thick smooth buttercream.
  • Spread or pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.


To make snowmen, using a 1cm plain nozzle, pipe round mounds of icing onto each cupcake, top with a white marshmallow. Using melted chocolate or writing icing, pipe on eyes, moth, nose, buttons and stick arms. Dust with a fresh snow of icing sugar.
Keyword red velvet cupcakes, snowman cupcakes


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