13 February 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!: Red Velvet Marbled Cupcakes

Hearts and flowers. Hearts and flowers. Hearts and flowers.


I've never been a fan of Valentines Day. Yes, I wrote and made gaudily frilly, and later bought gaudily frilly cards for my school chums (and in return, I received equally gaudily frilly cards). When there's a man in my life, we mark the day with food, cards and whatever else we feel.

But really, I could do without the day. I've said it before: if you're in a relationship, I think you should spend every day letting the other person know how much you love and like them and how much they mean to you. Nothing cloying--just small things--a cup of tea, a backrub, mending a button, keeping the chocolate within reach and not on the top shelf...not because you "have" to but because you *want* to.

I worked in card and gift stores while I was in school, so as you can imagine, my relative indifference towards the day fully moved over to eyerolling fatigue of pink and red, shiny papers and doilies, hearts and flowers. The number of last minute, panic (and guilt)-strickened faces who queued at the till on the 13th and 14th of February was...incredible. Often they were there out of a sense of duty (she expects it), sometimes to dig themselves out of a hole (will this be good enough) and every once in a while because they were told to (my coworker "reminded" me...).

Don't get me wrong. There were people who planned sometimes weeks in advance and spent 20 minutes weighing the heartfeltness of each message in each card. Some of them were last minute shoppers, but many of them weren't.

I am alone, again, and chances are I'll be at home, watching a DVD, or vacuuming. Heck, I may, in a moment of curiosity, log on to LavaLife to see how much things have changed (or not) since I was on a couple of years ago.

Does this bother me? Not really.

Would I like to have a Mr. Wonderful land on my doorstep and want to discuss the Romantic poets or perhaps the political situation in the Middle East or even the CRTC and its decisions over media ownership and UBB over tea and cakes...well...of course I would. I'm not stupid.

If he gave me some notice, I'd probably make these red velvet marbled cupcakes for that tea. It combines two of my most reliable recipes in a rather striking, if not patriotic, way. Swirls of red and white, perhaps topped with cream cheese or coconut icing.

It's a bit finicky. The red velvet cake pure chemistry with fizzing reactions. The batters' densities and heavinesses couldn't be more different: light an moussey red velvet with a heavier buttermilk. Regardless, it works and they rise together beautifully.

Red Velvet Marbled Cupcakes
Yield 12


for the white batter
65g (0.5c) cake flour
0.5tsp baking powder
0.25tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
55g (0.25c) butter
1Tbsp flavourless oil
65g (0.33c) sugar
1 egg
0.5tsp vanilla
2Tbsp buttermilk

for the red batter:
65g (0.5c) cake flour
0.5tsp baking powder
0.5Tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt
60ml (0.25c) buttermilk
1Tbsp red food colouring
25g (2Tbsp) butter, softened
65g (0.33c) brown sugar
1dspn (2tsp) flavourless oil
1 egg
0.25tsp bicarbonate of soda
0.25tsp red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 375F/190C and line a 12-bowl muffin tin with paper wrappers.

Start with the white batter:

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light, fluffy and almost pearlescent. Mix in the eggs one at at a time (or as best as you can).

Incorporate half the flour into the batter, scrape down the sides and then continue with the rest of the flour. Mix in the buttermilk.

Divide between the papered bowls.

Now for the red batter:

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

Mix together buttermilk and food colouring until it is a rather vile but even shade of puce.

Beat butter for a few minutes until creamy. Add brown sugar and cream well. Mix in oil and beat in egg.

Alternate mixing in flour mixture with buttermilk mixture (dry-wet-dry), scraping down the bowl's sides between additions.

Mix together the bicarb and vinegar into a fizzy, volcanic solution and work it quickly into the batter. At this point, the batter will be almost mousse-like in consistently.

Working quickly to so as to not lose the lift, divide between the papered muffin bowls and swirl the two batters together. Bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.


I'm a quill for hire!


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

A swirl of red velvet would show them you love them Jasmine.

K and S said...

ooh marbled looks nice! happy v-day :)

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

I think I'll say Happy Valentine's Day and "Bah!" in the same breath. :)
True its about the small things because you want to. It can also be about your very pretty marbled cupcakes.

Lael Hazan @educatedpalate said...

We don't really celebrate the Hallmark Holiday; however, this year our girls made "red velvet cake". It wasn't intentional, the little one didn't read a label and mistook red food coloring for vanilla. We were able to add the vanilla but....

In any case, they are on a baking binge and now want to make red velvet everything. I can see your cupcakes will become one of my weekend additions.

jasmine said...

Happy Valentine's Day all ;)

Val - I just loved the contrast of the two colours, and to a certain extent, textures.

Aparna - For me it's always about the little things. Big and garish don't really do it for me...

Lael - I saw your tweet about that. It gave me ideas about other colours as well ;) Hoping for the best for your red velvet reverie.