Every year, thousands of parents dim the lights, grab the camera, and stand in front of their child. “Make a wish!” they exclaim before snapping a photo of their kid’s puffed up cheeks blowing out the glowing birthday candles.
I dread this moment. I never know which singing face to look at, so I stare awkwardly at the cake in front of me, outwardly smiling but inwardly sweating.
What should I wish for?
A new car? More baking supplies? Complete happiness? World peace?
After squinting at the cake for over 60 very long seconds and hearing people politely clearing their throats, I screw up my face and blow, wishing I could come up with a wish, any wish at all.
So why do I put up with this torturous yearly ritual?
Because I get to bake myself a cake. With the flavors and frosting that I want. And for a girl who loves to bake, what better birthday present could I give myself than spending a day in the kitchen making myself (multiple) desserts to share?
Red Velvet Cupcakes
based on CL’s Red Velvet Cake
makes 18-20 cupcakes
Weeks ago, I decided to bake my own renditions of the cupcakes my neighbor sweetly gave me, and what better time to start than for my birthday? Use vanilla instead if your guests don’t like cream cheese frosting.
2¼ c. flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 (1 oz) bottle red food coloring
1 c. milk or buttermilk
5 tbsp shortening
1⅔ c. granulated sugar
1 egg white
1¼ tsp vanilla
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp baking soda
cream cheese frosting
1 tbsp butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened (any will do: regular, light, fat-free)
¾ tsp vanilla
2-3 c. powdered sugar
- To prepare the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° and line 20 muffin cups with cupcake liners.
- Whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa together in a medium bowl. Stir the milk and red food coloring together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, cream the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy, 3-5 min. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Alternately add the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Do not overmix!
- In a small bowl, stir the vinegar and baking soda together. Mix into the cupcake batter. Evenly distribute the batter between the prepared pans, and bake at 350° for 26-30 min or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 5 min before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- To prepare the frosting, beat the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla together until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar, ½-cup at a time, until it reaches the desired taste and consistency. Spread or pipe over the tops of the cooled cupcakes.