Thursday, February 12, 2009

Perfect Recipe: Frosting

There are a few convenience foods that people should really stop buying, like frozen pie crust, salad dressing and canned frosting. I admit, seven minute frosting and buttercream are sort of tricky, nothing could be easier than cream cheese frosting. It's a little tangy, a little sweet, and really, really simple.

To make the frosting, soften 1 part cream cheese and 2 parts butter (I usually leave both out on the counter for about 6 hours or overnight). Whip it in the mixer on high with the whisk attachment with a bit of vanilla extract and add confectioner's sugar until it becomes the thick, airy consistency of frosting. For a pound of butter and a half pound (eight-ounce) container of cream cheese, I use at least one pound of confectioner's sugar. The good news is that the frosting cannot be overbeaten-- it just gets fluffier and fluffier!

Everyone knows the frosting is the best part of the cupcake, but you'll need something to go below this delicious cap of fluffy frosting, so here's my red velvet cake recipe. Red velvet cupcakes are just chocolate cupcakes that are dyed red for some sort of Southern reason. Leave out the food coloring, and these are great chocolate cupcakes. To frost them, you'll need 1 pound butter, 1/2 pound cream cheese, 1 pound confectioner's sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. You can also substitute Marscarpone for the cream cheese for an Italian twist.

Red Velvet Cupcake
10 ounces all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (measured, not weighed)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon red food coloring

Prepare a muffin tin with paper liners or spray with Baker's Joy. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Sift together the first five ingredients three times and set aside. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and light, about five minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. In a small bowl, mix together the buttermilk, vanilla and food coloring. Alternatively, add wet and dry ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Pour the batter into 24 muffin cups and bake for 22 minutes.