Not much makes me happier than seeing a big plate of pretty cupcakes. Unless, of course, the cupcakes have a few sprinkles on them, because it’s a well known fact that Sprinkles Beget Happiness. I am all about spreading a little happiness this time of year. Not only is my birthday looming on the horizon, but Valentine’s Day is just a few short days away, so naturally I have a great excuse for sweet celebrations all week long.
Comfortably Domestic Confession: I used to loathe Valentine’s Day. Well, perhaps loath is a strong word, but Bacon Slayer and I never celebrated Valentine’s Day because we thought it was a silly made up holiday. We preferred to celebrate with random cards or flowers, rather than on a specific date. That worked for us until we had kids…kids who love holidays in any shape or form, and celebrate all of them with equal gusto. So a few years back we started a few fun family Valentine’s traditions, and you know what? We LOVE celebrating Valentine’s Day. Everything is so happy, and celebratory, and sweet, and pink!
Speaking of sweet celebrations, my Theme Week friends and I are sharing a plethora of sweet treats for you to share with your sweeties this week during Sweets Week. More about that at the end of this post…
This week, the baking-obsessed group Sundays With Joy on Facebook chose to bake Joy the Baker’s Red Velvet Marble Cake from the cookbook Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes. Joy gives the recipe a new twist by marbling red velvet with chocolate cake. Very clever, but the amount of red food coloring required to make the red velvet show up against the chocolate kind of freaked me out a little.
Massive amounts of food coloring makes me a touch squeamish.
Since I’m a big fan of marble cake, I chose to merge my favorite vanilla/chocolate marble cake with Joy’s red velvet. To ensure that all of my Sweeties were celebrated equally, I made cupcakes–24 cupcakes equals 24 smiling faces–love that! I topped the cupcakes with healthy amounts of milk chocolate buttercream frosting and a few happiness-inducing sprinkles.
My Sweeties were quite pleased with the combination of tangy red velvet, sweet vanilla, and creamy milk chocolate. So bake up a batch Red Velvet-Vanilla Marble Cupcakes for your sweetie, for yourself, or for anyone else that you’d like to bring a little cheer.
Red Velvet-Vanilla Marble Cupcakes
Inspired by Joy the Baker’s Red Velvet (Chocolate) Marble Cake
Makes 24 Standard Cupcakes
For the Vanilla Cake:
½ C. unsalted butter, softened
1 C. granulated sugar
1 ¼ C. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ C. milk
For the Red Velvet Cake:
¼ C. unsalted butter, softened
¾ C. granulated sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ¼ C. all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ C. buttermilk
3 drops Americolor “Red Red” gel food coloring
1 ½ tsp. white vinegar
1 Recipe Milk Chocolate Buttercream (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake pan wells with paper liners; set aside.
For the Vanilla Cake Batter:
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy; between 3 and 5 minutes. Stir in eggs, one at a time, until they are well incorporated. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir the vanilla extract into the milk.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, stirring well to incorporate. Then, with the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour in ½ of the milk mixture, beating for one minute or until blended. Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula, as needed. Repeat the additions by adding another 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the rest of the milk, and ending with the last 1/3 of the flour mixture, stirring well in between each addition. Set the vanilla cake batter aside while preparing the Red Velvet batter.
For the Red Velvet Cake Batter:
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy; between 3 and 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, beating until fully incorporated. Sprinkle the cocoa powder over the creamed mixture and stir until blended. At this point, add 3 drops of Americolor “Red Red” gel coloring to the batter. Stir batter on low speed until coloring is fully distributed, scraping down the sides of the bowl, as necessary.
Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl to combine; blend 1/3 of the dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Slowly pour in half of the buttermilk and beat on low speed for one minute. Repeat the additions by blending in another 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining buttermilk, and ending with the remaining flour mixture, being sure each addition is incorporated before adding the next one. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl, as necessary. Add the vinegar and gently stir to by hand to combine it with the batter. The vinegar will react to the baking soda in the batter, causing it to expand and force more air into the batter.
Use a medium (2 oz.) scoop to divide the red velvet batter between the prepared cupcake pans, trying to drop the batter toward one side of the paper liner. Rinse any batter off the scoop, and repeat the process with the vanilla batter, dropping it on the opposite side of the liners as the red velvet batter. (Cupcake liners should only be 2/3 full.) Swirl the edge of a butter knife through the two batters to create a marbled effect.
Bake cupcakes in the preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, or until or until edges are lightly browned. A cake tester inserted in the centers should come out clean. Cool for 2 minutes in the pan, and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting with Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.
Whipped Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Makes about 2 ½ cups
1 C. unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ C. powdered sugar (or more, depending on desired consistency)
4 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate candy bars (1.55 oz. each), chopped (Do NOT use chocolate chips!)
¼ C. heavy whipping cream
½ tsp. vanilla extract
- Put the chopped milk chocolate bars into a small bowl. Heat the chocolate in 30 second increments in the microwave set to 60% power. Stir after each increment, and continue to heat 30 seconds at a time, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside and allow to completely cool.
- Once the milk chocolate has cooled, sift the powdered sugar over the butter, in a large bowl. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Measure the whipping cream into a cup, and stir in the vanilla extract into the cream.
- With the mixer running on low speed, gradually pour the cream mixture the bowl.
- Once the cream mixture has been incorporated into the frosting, fold on the melted (but cooled) milk chocolate until incorporated.
- Increase the mixer speed to medium-high, and beat frosting for an additional 3 minutes.
- Makes about 2 ½ cups of frosting.
- This makes a medium consistency frosting, which is very spreadable and creamy.
- For a stiff decorator frosting: add more powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time, until desired consistency (about another cup or so.)
- For a thinner consistency to fill cupcakes or sandwich cookies, add about ½ cup less powdered sugar.
Sweets Week is just for you, my sweet Friends! Please stop by daily to check out the abundance of Sweets for Your Sweetie Pies:
Today, Jeanne @ Inside NanaBread’s Head joins me with her Retro Raspberry Divinity and an awesome sweet baking-themed giveaway. How sweet is that? The rest of the sweetness lines up as follows:
S’Mores on a Stick – Kat @ Tenaciously Yours
White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting – Mads @ La Petite Pancake
Berry Smoothie Ice Cream Pie & a Giveaway – Anne @ From My Sweet Heart
Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?
What random thing do you do, just to elicit a smile?