People are crazy about red velvet cake. It’s beloved in the South (who remembers the Bleedin’ Armadillo Grooms cake from Steel Magnolias?) but has taken all of America by storm over the past few years — it’s found in nearly every bakery on the block. Is the obsession with red-velvet cake due to the cake’s obvious merit: tender, moist cake in an attention-grabbing hue, topped with a pouf of creamy-tart cream cheese frosting? Or do we have the rumor mill to thank? Baked goods-enthusiasts have been spreading tales for some time that the cake gets its blush from a chemical reaction between the baking soda and the cocoa powder in the recipe. This is completely false, in fact, some red velvet recipes don’t even call for cocoa. The cake gets its color from nothing more scientific than a large amount of food coloring.
So if you can make the cake red by dumping in a whole bunch of red coloring, then you can turn it any color, right? You sure can. Case in point: Green Velvet Cake for St. Patrick’s Day. It’s as easy as swapping green food coloring for red in your red velvet cake recipe. Or Chuck Hughes’ Red Velvet Cupcake recipe, if you really want the best.
Chuck’s Red (or Green) Velvet Cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups canola oil
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons green food coloring (or red)
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon cocoa
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a food processor, mix the sugar with the eggs, oil, yogurt, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Add flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Blend until just incorporated.
Place paper cupcake liners into a muffin pan, and divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, pouring only halfway so the batter doesn’t overflow. Bake, rotating halfway through, for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the cupcakes and let cool before frosting.
Makes 24 cupcakes.
Note: Chuck tops his cupcakes with mascarpone cream, which is likely very good, but I love cream cheese frosting an like the way it looks on top of little cakes, so I topped mine with cream cheese frosting, instead.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cream cheese and butter and beat until completely combined. On low speed, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, then beat at highest speed until thick and creamy. Add the vanilla to the mixture and beat until combined.
Make the cupcakes:
Chuck’s recipe calls for a food processor. I’ve never used a food processor to make cake batter before, so was tempted to ignore that part and use my stand mixer instead. But I wanted to stay loyal to Chuck and try out something new, so I broke out the food processor. (But ended up using the mixer for the frosting, anyway.)
The batter is that green, so be careful not to get any on your clothes or counters. It can’t be very easy to remove.
Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting. You don’t need any fancy equipment to frost cupcakes, a resealable plastic bag with the corner snipped (make a tiny hole, nothing huge) will help you make a lovely frosting dollop on top. I like to frost just the middle of the cupcakes so that the total treat isn’t overly sweet, and also because the cupcake tops retain their slightly crispy edge when they’re left uncovered, so by only partially frosting, you get to experience both the frosting and the texture of the cake.
An Irish-looking cupcake wrapper or some green-and-white sprinkles will add some extra flair, but left alone, these beauties are pretty festive. When serving, don’t forget the requisite “Top O’ the morning” and “Kiss me, I’m Irish” quotes to prove that you’re truly committed to celebrating your Irish heritage (real or adopted for this day) in the spirit of St. Patrick.
You’re in luck, little leprechauns! More Irish recipes for your St. Patty’s shenanigans:
Braised Cabbage (minus the beef!)