Thursday, April 23, 2009

Extra Chocolate Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing


I am cursed with need to bake at obscure times, like at eight pm after I got home from work. Usually when I find something that looks like fun to try. In this case, it was red velvet cupcakes. Now, in New Zealand, red velvet cake is about as common as flying pigs. The first three people I informed of my current baking mission just stared at me as if I was mad; clearly trying to understand why I sought to combine cake and furry fabric. And I managed to do it! No, not really.

This is the first time I've made red velvet cake of any sort, so I really had no idea what I was in for. Turns out, something surprisingly easy. These wee cakes take only just a little more effort than your average vanilla cupcakes, and they are amazingly delicious. The flavour is subtly chocolately, and the cake itself is silky soft and slightly dense in texture. Just perfect for those of you who aren't huge fans the traditional slightly-dry, air-light cupcake.

Now, I can't say I'm a huge fan of cream cheese icing as I prefer my icing to do as I tell it. However, the flavour really suits the subtleness of the cake, so I wouldn't go so far as to recommend not using it at all. I think a traditional all-sugar frosting would be too overwhelming for the delicate flavour of the cake. So next time I whip these cakes up (and there will be a next time), I will probably reduce the amount of cream cheese I use, so that the flavour is still there, but so that there is still a decent amount of structure to the frosting.

The inspiration from the recipe came from here. Unfortunately my first time efforts don't look as great as Michelle's, but I am all for that slightly rustic look to my cooking. That's what I tell myself, at least.

Without further ado!

Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe:

Makes 12 average sized cupcakes, or 24 small cupcakes.

2/3c Oil (vegetable or cooking)
3/4c Sugar
1 egg
2tbsp red food colouring*
1tsp vanilla extract
1/2c buttermilk**
1c flour
1/3c cocoa***
1/2tsp baking soda
1/2tsp baking powder
3/4tsp white vinegar
*You could easily get away with more if you wanted a deeper red colour.
**If you don't have butter milk, you can make your own with 2tsp of lemon juice to half a cup of milk, and let it sit for 15 minutes so that it can curdle.
***I wanted a stronger chocolate flavour (because I'm a chocaholic), so I used 1/2c instead. Of course, this does make the cake darker, so you don't get that fabulous red colour.


Dump your oil and sugar into a bowl, and mix on a low speed.

Next, add your egg, red food colouring and vanilla extrat.

Mix (still on low, so as not to splatter the liquidly mixture)

Add your buttermilk, flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder.

Mix (you can turn the speed up here, but I didn't bother)

Line your muffin pans with cupcake liners. I made 24 smaller cupcakes, because I find they are a much more forgiving serving size, plus they look totally cute. As you can see, I use silicone bake ware. There are only a few things I use silicone for; muffins and Bundt cakes. I just can't be bothered with attempting to coax cakes out of tricky moulds.

Pop them into your preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius, cooking them until they bounce back from a touch, or a skewer/toothpick comes out clean. Because they are a little denser than traditional cupcakes, they take a bit longer.

Here they are in all their freshly bake beauty! Yummmm.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe:
115g cream cheese*
115g butter
1 1/2tsp vanilla extract**
1-2c icing sugar (/powdered sugar/confectioners’ sugar - whatever you want to call it!)

*Remember earlier? When I said I'd probably cut the cream cheese down? Apply here.
**Extract is different to essence. It's the real stuff. If you can, get the stuff with the seed pods included (because ohmygod, they are amazing). Or alternatively you can do what Michelle has done, and use real vanilla seeds, and vanilla essence.


Weigh out your cream cheese (aren't these fantastic retro scales? They are my faaavourite Christmas present, and even though I have electric scales that measure in one gram increments, I always, always, always use these).

Then weigh out your butter (I just weighed the cream cheese, then tossed in enough butter so that the needle on the scales doubled - because you need the same amount for each ingredient).

Toss both cream cheese and butter in a bowl, and you vanilla extract. I added a few drops of red food colouring here, because I wanted a soft pink icing. If you look really closely, you can see the vanilla seeds. Mmmm.

Cream the ingredients until they are evenly mixed together and nice and fluffy.

Then add your icing sugar and mix. I would recommend that you add one cup first, then slowly add more until you get a texture you're happy with. If it ends up too thick, just add a few drops of milk. Be careful not to add to much, as we know what liquid can do to icing sugar!

Finally, put the icing in a piping bag, and ice away!

And these are the delicious results!

Inside (see how mine are darker than the traditional red velvet cake?).

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Beginning

Well, hello to any and all that are reading this blog! I have no idea how to start this little project of mine, so how about I tell you about myself, and what my intentions are for my little corner of the internet.

[Cue inspiration].

So who are you?
My name is Lisette, but more often than not, I go by izmi on the internet. I'm 23 years old and I live in New Zealand.

What is this blog supposed to be about?
Cooking. Baking. Food and its consumption. I'm kind of crazy about it; I love preparing it in its many forms, though I am especially partial to baking.

Got any relevant qualifications?
Other than a love for it? Not at all. My qualifications run the English and Ancient History kind of way. But I haven't poisoned anyone yet! So that's a bonus, right?

I'll spare you the full and detailed list. Surely you can survive with the basics. Here we go... Books, cooking and baking (obviously), animals and their care, debating, 80s colours and graphic prints, sleep, history (specifically Ancient Greece and Elizabethan). I adore almost all Shakespearian plays, and my favourites are Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, Merchant of Venice and Taming of the Shrew.

More details please!
Okay, well, I have an unhealthy obsession with chocolate. You'll soon discover how unhealthy. I day dream a lot, and I am rather obsessive. I do house cleaning at odd hours of the morning. I come from a large extended family, and I am pretty close with all of them. Quite a few of the dishes you see here will be destined for the table at a family gathering.

Anything else we should know?
I do have a chronic illness (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: see here), so it may affect the frequency with which I post sometimes. I'm somewhat mad, and I love it. My brand of madness comes with a crazy and often sarcastic sense of humour, so just be aware!

Well, that seemed to work relatively well. I'll leave on a high note!

- Lisette.

[ps: The first recipe will be up within a few days.]