Not-so-Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Treat yourself to these delicious Not-so-Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Not-so-Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Not-so-Red Velvet Cupcakes

I might have been a little delusional when I made these cupcakes. I naively thought that “natural” food coloring (made from concentrated liquid vegetable colorants) would give me the brilliant red color that defines the famous red velvet cake. Instead I got an awkward slightly red, entirely weird color for which I have no words to describe. Oops. At least they tasted good. Very good.

Recipe Rundown

Taste: Mildly sweet cake with a hint of chocolate complimented by a tangy cream cheese frosting.
Texture: The cake is light and spongy while the frosting is rich and creamy.
Ease: While cupcakes are fairly easy, especially if you have a stand mixer, they do involve a few steps that can become time consuming. Scratch cupcake recipes are best reserved for weekends or holidays for most people.
Appearance: Hm. Haha. You really have to use red food coloring to get that vivid red hue, there is no way around that. I don’t think I’m willing to add artificial coloring to my homemade treats so I’ll forgo appearance for quality. If you pipe the frosting with a beautiful decorating tip I think these cupcakes still look cute.
Pros: Delicious!
Cons: Not an everyday treat, requires red food coloring for desired appearance.
Would I make this again? Probably for a special occasion like a baby shower or valentine’s day.


Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes



  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 1/3 cups of cake flour
  • 2 tablespoons of Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of buttermilk*
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar


  • 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 8 oz of Philly cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
  • 1 1/2 - 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

*You can make your own buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar to milk and letting it stand for about 10 minutes.


For the cupcakes:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer for 3 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping edges down as necessary. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated.
3. In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl or large measuring cup whisk together the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla extract, and red food coloring.
4. Add a fourth of the dry ingredients and mix, then add a third of the wet. Continue adding in a dry, wet, dry pattern, ending with the dry ingredients.
5. Using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop or spoon, fill batter into cupcake liners, about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Rotate the pan after the first 15 minutes of baking to ensure even baking.
6. Allow to cool for one minute in the pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

1. Cream the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
2. Add the vanilla extract and mix.
3. Add the powdered sugar, continually taste to get to desired sweetness (I only used 1 1/2 cups). Fill frosting into piping bag or ziploc bag and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Alternatively, spread frosting onto cupcakes with a small offset spatula or knife.

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2 Responses to “Not-so-Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. #
    claire — November 10, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    sorry about the red color… thats a bummer!

    I also add choc chips to my red velvet cupcakes- YUM!

  2. #
    whozyerdanny — November 11, 2010 at 12:58 am

    I use color which I purchase from and indian/asian market. I find them to be much more vibrant than the stuff made here.

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