Ingredients for the Cupcakes:
- 1 and 1⁄2 cups white (granulated) sugar
- 1⁄2 cup salted butter (1 stick, 4 ounces, 1⁄4 pound) softened to room temperature
- 1⁄2 cup vegetable oil 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons red food color gel (if you can’t find gel, you can use liquid food coloring, but gel is best— I used Betty Crocker Classic Gel Food Colors)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 and 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour (pack it down in the cup when you measure it)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (or white vinegar if you can’t find red wine vinegar)
Ingredients for the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 4 ounces cream cheese (I used Philadelphia Brand in the rectangular silver package—half a package was 4 ounces)
- 1⁄4 cup salted butter (1⁄2 stick, 2 ounces, 1⁄8 pound)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar (pack it down in the cup when you measure it)
Line 24 cupcake cups with cupcake papers. (My cupcake pans hold 12 apiece so I used 2 cupcake pans. I also used double cupcake papers in each cup.)
WARNING ABOUT FOOD COLOR GEL: Make sure you don’t buy red decorating gel instead of red food color gel. The decorating gel comes in individual tubes and is used to write on the top of cakes in various colors of gel frosting. You need to buy the concentrated food color gel that will color your cupcake batter red. If you can’t find food color gel, you can use liquid food coloring, but you’ll have to use double the amount.
- Place the white sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the softened, salted butter and vegetable oil. Beat until the resulting mixture is nice and fluffy.
- Mix in the salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Mix it in thoroughly.
- Add the 2 teaspoons of red food color gel and the vanilla extract. Beat until the color is mixed in evenly.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
- Add one cup of flour to your bowl and mix it in thoroughly. Then shut off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Pour in a half-cup of buttermilk and mix that in thoroughly on LOW speed.
- Add a second cup of flour to your bowl. Mix it in thoroughly and then shut off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
- Add the rest of the buttermilk (1⁄2 cup) to your bowl. Mix well.
- Mix in the rest of the flour (1⁄2 cup) and mix thoroughly. Mix in the red wine vinegar.
- Shut off the mixer, remove the bowl, and give your cup- cake batter a final scrape and stir with the rubber spatula. The vinegar may make your batter foam up a bit. That’s perfectly all right.
- Fill the cupcake papers 1⁄3 full of batter. (Lisa and I used a 2-Tablespoon scoop to do this at The Cookie Jar.)
- Take the Chocolate Apricot Surprises you made out of the refrigerator. Peel them off the waxed paper one by one, and put them in the center of each cupcake. Push them down slightly, but be careful not to push them all the way to the bottom of the cupcakes!
- Fill the cupcake papers with batter until they’re 3⁄4 full. These cupcakes don’t rise very much so you don’t have to worry about them overflowing.
- Bake the Red Velvet Surprise Cupcakes in a preheated 350 degrees F. oven for 20 to 23 minutes. (Mine took 21 minutes.)
- Take the cupcake pans out of the oven and let them cool completely on a cold stove burner or a wire rack. Do not remove the cupcakes from the pan until they are completely cool.
Directions for the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Place the cream cheese and the butter in a medium-size microwave-safe bowl. (I used a quart measuring cup.) Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds. Stir. If you can stir the cream cheese and the butter smooth, take the bowl out and put it on the counter. If it’s still not soft enough to stir, micro- wave on HIGH in 20-second intervals until it is.
- Add the vanilla extract to your bowl and stir that in.
- Add the powdered sugar, a half-cup at a time, stirring after each addition. Continue to add powdered sugar until the frosting is spreadable, not runny.
- Work from the center out when you frost your Red Velvet Surprise Cupcakes. Don’t go all the way to the edges. Leave a little of the red cupcake showing all the way around.
Yield: 24 cupcakes