Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rockin' out in Red Velvet....

The Ranting Foodie says: “What is the big deal about designer cupcakes? They are over-priced, over-sized, and the line at Sprinkles feels like the DMV. I will swing by Ralph's for a dozen funfettis for 5 bucks. Thanks.”

The ‘Semi-Homemade Sandra Lee’ Foodie says: “I love designer cupcakes! They are sweet and pretty and look wonderful with my pink roses tablescape.  Who needs to toil away in the kitchen when you can order a dozen ready-made from Sprinkles, and then add your personal homemade touch by placing a Sweethearts candy right on top!”

The Rockin’ Foodie says: “Cupcakes are great. Everyone loves them and they are versatile for occasions large and small - picnics, weddings, birthdays.... Sprinkles cupcakes are, of course, good – but cupcakes are fun and easy to make at home.  Let's do it!"

What kind of cupcakes are we making Rockin' Foodie? 

Answer: Sweet, but edgy cupcakes - Hence ... RED VELVET.

Of course, Red Velvet contains the normal cake ingredients - sugar, eggs, flour, vanilla extract, etc.  However, it also contains surprise acidic, sour, & bitter elements of vinegar, buttermilk, & unsweetened cocoa powder - all mixed with a healthy dose of red food coloring. 

The result - a bright red cake that is 1/2 sweet & 1/2 RAAR!!!.

And speaking of 1/2 sweet and 1/2 RAAR - enter Zooey Deschanel (of the indie folk rock duo "She and Him") and Empress of Rock, Ella G'Sell.

Zooey Deschanel – I love her frilly dresses, long flowing hair, and lilting voice (think - the movie, "Elf"), but she is known to be deadpan in her delivery (think - the movie, "500 Days of Summer").  Zooey isn’t as frilly as Taylor Swift, but she isn’t a tough-as-nails rocker chick either – she is a red velvet cupcake – a bit unsweetened at times, but topped with frosting.

Check out Zooey and the very talented, M. Ward (the other half of "She and Him") performing "Thieves" from She and Him's second album "Volume Two" (released March 23, 2010 by Merge Records).

 And below is the official video for "In the Sun" (also off "Volume Two").  I love the dancing because it's fun and nothing fancy... just a little hula-hooping... Zooey shows her sarcastic, but girly side... Enjoy.


Ms. Deschanel (or perhaps Mrs. Gibbard) is actually a vegan, but she loves desserts. Zooey certainly gave the culinary all-stars of "Top Chef Masters" a real challenge when she asked for vegan desserts (no eggs, no dairy, no gluten...).

At the LA Times Celebration of Food and Wine this past Summer, Zooey told the audience that she loved desserts from Babycakes NYC - a vegan bakery, originally located in NYC, but now now has locations in downtown LA and Hollywood.  So to get a vegan red velvet cupcake, visit the Babycakes Bakery. Or if you want to rock some red velvet vegan cupcakes at home click here.

And now on to the Empress of Rock, Ella G'Sell , a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles who's musical style runs the gamut from rock, soul, dance, pop, & folk.  Ella's style is feminine & coquettish, but also energetic and edgy - she is the ultimate in red velvet flavor.  With her thigh-high black leather boots, one shoulder dress, & sparkly jewelery, she rocks out, but at the same time maintains a sweet and sunny disposition both on & off stage. One day Ella is singing at garden parties for humanitarian functions in pink ruffles, & the next day is donned up as the Empress of Rock performing at a Hollywood venue showcasing her deep & soulful style.  

Check out Ella below performing "Dance with Me" off her upcoming EP (slated for 2011 which will feature a mix of styles - think Cher, Madonna, and Garbage all rolled into one).  Her last LP "Just That Beautiful" was released in 2008.  I love this song because it is socially conscience and brings the audience to their feet.

And below - Ella displays her vocal range in performing "Blue Colored Rainfall".  Like the surprise elements in our red velvet cupcakes, you would never guess from her cheery speaking voice that this gal can produce this powerful sound. Enjoy!

Ella's fans also know that she LOVES cupcakes, and her bakery of choice is Maile's Fine Pastries located in Eagle Rock which features made-to-order gourmet cakes, pastries, and even vegan cupcakes.   And in true rocker fashion, Ella's fav cupcake flavor- Baileys Irish Cream, sweet with a shot of liquor!

And now on to our cupcakes!

Rockin' Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (Makes about 18 cupcakes)

Here is what you need:

• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (cake flour will yield a more fluffy texture, but regular flour works too!)
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 - 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (use 2 if you desire a less sweet and more cocoa flavor) 
• 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
• 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
• 2 large eggs, room temperature
• 1 - 2 tablespoons red food coloring (I used 1 heaping tablespoon and, as you can see seen to the left, the batter looked as red as ketchup!.)
• 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting: (This makes a sizeable amount of frosting - I plan to use my leftovers for banana pumpkin bread)

• 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
• 1 stick butter, softened (let it out sit out for an hour or so or pop it into the microwave for 10 seconds)
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 cups confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
• Garnish ideas: fresh raspberries, strawberries, or sprinkles

Here is what you do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pans with cupcake liners.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and combined.  Be careful not to over mix the ingredients because this may yield a denser cake than desired... I know this from prior experience.

Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full. Bake in the oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pan once, half way through. Poke the cupcakes with a toothpick and if it comes out clean, they are done!. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting (which is soooooo yummy):

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the powered sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

And now frost and decorate to your hearts content!  And because of their super red color, these are great devilish Halloween cupcakes.

Wishing you all a sweet, but RAAR day!

Hugs and Kisses.


  1. Great post! I have been thinking about baking a cake recently cuz the Spaniards don´t know cake like the Americans do. If I can find the ingredients and a mixer I am gonna do it! Thanks Z. Miss you!

  2. Thanks hon. I miss you too! Throw a little saffron in there - give it some spice!

  3. Wish I could've made it to the Red Velvet Cupcake Fest! Maybe I'll make my own...(nahhh)

  4. Zeina- you are so awesome. You 'rock' my foodie world. I've heard, although I could be VERY WRONG, that some people put beets in their red velvet batter for color. Did someone tell me that because they know how clueless I am when it comes to baking or?

  5. Emma - Make your own and then invite me over and we will drink red cosmos on the side!

  6. Sonz - No, you are awesome and thank you for the comment! You are totally right about adding beets for additional red color - I may try that next time for a health food version with a lighter eggwhites based frosting. Come try it with me :)