A few weeks ago I caught an episode of that ass-face Bobby Flay’s show Throwdown. Ordinarily I would have flipped right on through, but they were battling over cupcakes and if there is something I might like as much as donuts, it’s cupcakes. Bobby battled Terri Wahl, owner/chef of Auntie Em’s Kitchen in LA. He made some sort of gingerbread mango cupcakes with some candied crap on top and his opponent made red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.
First of all, does anyone else think it’s total bullshit to call this show a throwdown when Bobby Flay, after creating a recipe in a test kitchen with at least two helpers, surprises an unsuspecting chef and makes them battle him with a recipe he couldn’t even come up with on his own? Of course, in this episode, his opponent knew what was going down and was in no way taken by surprise – take that, Bobby Flay – but thats’ beside the point. If you really want to keep this interesting and make the host look like a top-rated chef who can outdo anyone anywhere at anything- make them battle without helpers over something Bobby has no direct experience with – like pleasuring a woman.
After having a good look at the red velvet cupcakes, piled high with creamy frosting, I had long, lustful thoughts about eating them. Over the past few weeks, I’d talked to several people about how I wanted to make them, but I hadn’t the energy to do it until yesterday.
I should also mention that I have had red velvet cake several times throughout the years and never, not once, have I ever liked it. I was always drawn in by the deep red cake and contrasting frosting, but when it came to taste, I always found it lackluster and uninspiring. Red velvet cake is like this girl I once knew who, at first glance, appeared bright and friendly, but as you got closer you noticed she sort of smelled like plastic and, on the inside, she was so unappealing that you rarely felt like you shouldn’t have any more than that initial exploratory nibble, but you gave her the benefit of the doubt because she wore shiny red lipstick, so you would take another until you filled up on it and then hated yourself for spending so much time doing something you in no way enjoyed and, to top it all off, you’d need to spend another three hours at the gym/in a deep meditative state to get the taint of dead-hearted lying liar off of your body and/or soul.
I had occasion to make the red velvet cupcakes for my book club last night. I raced to the store after work to gather the ingredients and raced home to throw the recipe together in time to make it to my friend’s house by 7pm. I started mixing at 6:20 and I left the house at 7:30, so that should show you that a) I am a champion chef and b) this recipe is easy enough to be made in a hurry as long as you have all the ingredients at hand once you begin. To be honest, however, I didn’t have time to let them cool completely before I left and I didn’t frost them until later, either. All that aside, I can offer the following thoughts:
The frosting in this recipe is delicious and plentiful. Actually, it’s more than plentiful, it’s ridiculous in quantity. I made so much frosting that it filled a large Pyrex bowl with some leftover to fill a smaller Pyrex bowl, which I left behind for Janie to eat for dinner. On the show, Terri Wahl frosted each cupcake with as much frosting as there was cake. I didn’t put that much on each of them, but I did pile on a large and heavy mound and still had half of the larger bowl of frosting left over. If anyone wants some cream cheese frosting, please let me know. I’ll leave it out for you.
The recipe also made a lot of cake mix. I had enough time to bake 18 cupcakes with enough batter to make at least another 6-8 of them. I’d probably have been better off making them in the Wilton king-size cupcake pan, but I don’t have one. I just wanted to show you what an awesome cupcake pan that is.
The cake was moist and red. It was beautifully red. It was not delicious. It was very…red, though. It wasn’t so much gross as just there. It was like a thing whose purpose was to put delicious frosting into my mouth, nothing more.
The recipe is really easy to follow, though it did sort of irritate me that the flour and sugar were measured in ounces while everything else was in cups and teaspoons. Seriously? I had to break out my tiny scale which, my mother will be happy to know, I finally had occasion to use all these five years later. I’d alter the recipe to put the amount of flour and sugar into cups for you, but I was in such a hurry that I don’t really know how much it was. The flour might have been somewhere around three cups and the sugar slightly less, maybe two and a half. I can’t say for sure, though, so I hope if you decide to make this recipe, you have a tiny kitchen scale that your mother gave you five years ago which you have not yet had occasion to use. If not, well, sorry.
For the cupcakes
- 15 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
13 ounces granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons red food coloring
1 1/4 teaspoons vinegar (white or apple cider can both work)
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 cup water
Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a bowl and set aside.
In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix oil, sugar, and buttermilk until combined.
Add eggs, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla and water and mix well.
Add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix on low, scraping down sides occasionally, and mix until just combined.
Be sure not to over mix, or the batter will come out tough.
Line a 16-cup cupcake pan with paper liners, scoop the batter into the liners and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound butter, room temperature
2 pounds powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Whip the butter and cream cheese together in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until creamed.
Gradually add powdered sugar to the mixture and scrape down the bowl as needed.
Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
The frosting can be used right away, or stored in the refrigerator up to a week.
Frost cooled cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting.