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Red Velvet Cupcakes With Mascarpone Cream Cheese Icing

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RedVelvetCupcakes“Although legend has it that red velvet cake originated in the early 1900s at New York City’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, it’s been a Southern favorite for as long as I can remember,” Rebecca Rather writes in her “Pastry Queen Christmas.” “The mint extract and crushed mint candied add a bit of holiday flair, but easily can be left out at other times of the year.”

Red Velvet Cupcakes With Mascarpone Cream Cheese Icing

1/4 cup (2 ounces) red food coloring
3 1/2 tablespoons high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone
1 teaspoon vanilla or mint extract

Crushed peppermint candies for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease jumbo muffin cups (3 1/2 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep) with butter or cooking spray, and lightly flour them, knocking out the excess flour, or line them with baking papers.

In a small bowl, stir the food coloring and cocoa powder together to make a smooth paste. Set aside. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition, then the cocoa paste while continuing to beat. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter for about 4 minutes. In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, salt and baking soda. Stir the vanilla into the buttermilk (this can be done in the measuring cup). Add the flour mixture in 3 increments alternately with the buttermilk in two increments, starting and ending with the flour. Beat on medium speed just until the ingredients are combined. Add the sour cream and vinegar and beat on low speed until combined.

Fill the muffin cups three-fourths full with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, just until the cupcakes feel firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not overbake or the cupcakes will dry out. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then unmold onto a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.


For icing: In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the mascarpone on very low speed, until just combined. (Be careful, once you’ve added the mascarpone, excessive beating can make the frosting curdle.) Stir in the vanilla or mint extract.

Frost the tip of each cupcake with the icing. Sprinkle the crushed peppermint candy, if using, evenly on the cupcakes.

Makes 12 Texas-sized cupcakes.

From “The Pastry Queen Christmas” by Rebecca Rather

(photo: Nicholas N. Mistry)

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