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)
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
- 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.