Red Velvet Cupcakes

Since, my parent's anniversary is three days before Valentine's Day, they end up combining the two celebrations. My dad particularly likes this since he just needs to buy flowers one time to take care of both holidays. With the ice storm that swept through Atlanta this past week, the whole family had the opportunity to celebrate their 25th Anniversary with them.
 I couldn't think of anything more appropriate than red velvet cupcakes for their celebration. Of course you can't have red velvet without the signature cream-cheese frosting. And for good reason since the cupcakes themselves aren't too sweet. For anyone looking for a Valentine's themed desert, I'd wholeheartedly recommend this red-velvet recipe. The red coloring is subtle, but if you have red gel food coloring on hand, I found that adding it makes for a more prominent red coloring. Happy Baking~

Yield: 15 cupcakes
12 Tablespoons (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
1.5 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 Tb white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2.25 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 Tb Red food coloring
2 Tb Cacao Powder

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.)Beat butter and sugar on medium-high for 3-6 minutes or until light and fluffy.
3.)In another bowl (bowl #2), whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
4.)In bowl #3, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract and vinegar.
5.)Put mixture on low and add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture.
6.)Add 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture.
7.)Alternate mixing in the buttermilk and flour mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
8.)In another bowl, thoroughly combine cacao powder and red food coloring until it is a thick paste.
9.) Add the cocoa mixture to the batter and mix in thoroughly.
10.)Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
11.)Bake cupcakes for 15-20 minutes.

Cream Cheese frosting
Adapted from Annie's Eats
10 oz. cream cheese
6.5 Tb unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
3.25 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

1.) Beat together cream cheese and butter.
2.) Gradually beat in powdered sugar at medium speed.
3.) Add in vanilla extract

For the decoration, I used a closed star tip and started from the middle, working my way outward to create the rose design. The chocolate cookie heart was made from cutting the ends of a biscuit (from one of the leftover holiday European cookie tins) and pasting the ends together with Nutella to make a heart-shape.

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