A customer messaged me recently…
“Hi Allyson! … I know this is a weird question but do you still make your cupcakes? I live in Cincinnati now and not sure if you ever share your recipe but the only one I dream about almost weekly lol is the red velvet one. I’ve tried to make my own version but nothing compares to yours. Let me know if you’d be willing to share, I’ll sign like an NDA or pay you for it lol. “
Red Velvet Obsession
Well folks, here it is. Back when I had my cupcake stores, this Red Velvet Cupcake was an everyday flavor. Only the best of the best made a daily appearance. Red Velvet was one of them. (In case you’re curious about my best selling cupcake flavor, I’ve dedicated an entire post about it here. ) The cupcake racked up easily over $100,000 in sales over the years. It was an obsession among loyal customers, and for good reason. This cupcake was all the things, moist and lightly chocolaty and topped with that signature buttercream addict frosting.
Pecan Praline topping to die for!
For the first few years I sold this cupcake just as described, until one day I had a new customer walk in. She told me she had just moved to Kansas from Georgia and was looking for a really good red velvet cupcake like her grandmother made. She tried mine and declared it “almost perfect”
She went on to tell me that in the south a real red velvet cupcake has chopped pecans on top.
Oh how I love feedback like that! I got busy testing a recipe for a candied pecan praline. Its lightly salted and buttery sweet with toasted chopped pecans. I sprinkled it over the top and declared it a win. I couldn’t wait for her to come in and try it for herself.
It didn’t take long, I mentioned she was a regular. And by regular I mean several times a week. I happily offered her one and SHE APPROVED! From that point on, the Red Velvet Cupcake was topped with pecan praline and it sky rocketed to my number 4 best seller of all time.
But what about the buttercream?
If you’re a bakery owner or even home baker than you’re probably familiar with these laws against using cream cheese in frostings. It seemed a little hard to satisfy a customers request, and I knew this cupcake needed an extra special frosting. I stumbled upon this wonderful flavoring oil manufactured by a company called Loranne Oils. Their Cheesecake flavored oil gives my buttercream a little something that the Red Velvet Cupcake deserves. While its not exactly like a cream cheese frosting, it seemed to do the trick and satisfy not only my customers, but the health department requirements as well!
Putting it all together
Since there are several elements to this cupcake, I like to break it up and prepare the items over a few days.
The first step is to make the pecan praline topping.
This recipe makes more that you’ll need for the cupcakes, but it keeps well and tasted great on ice cream, and even as a topper on a big salad with lots of greens, goat cheese, dried cranberries and crunchy sweet pecans. Voila, salad and cupcakes? The perfect meal!
Pecan Crumble Topping
- 3/4 cup Brown Sugar Packed
- 1/2 cup Butter Unsalted
- pinch Salt
- 1 1/2 cups Pecans shelled and coarsely chopped
- On a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet, place the cubed butter, brown sugar, salt and pecans. Bake at 350° for approx. 30 minutes. Set timer for 10 minutes and stir, repeat every 10 minutes until mixture becomes evenly caramelized and toasted.
- Allow to cool for about 30 minutes. At this point you can chop the praline into smaller pieces. It does set up as it cools, so another option is to refrigerate the praline for several hours or over night, and chop it once it is fully cooled.
- The praline is now ready to use!
Next you’ll want to mix the cake batter.
When I was selling 100’s of cupcakes a day, we mixed our cake batter the night before and just scooped up what we needed over then next few days. I was always happy with the way the batter held up. If you’re looking for time saving tips this is a good one. Breaking the process into smaller steps helps keep things clean and organized!
A note about the red food coloring: you want the liquid stuff. Don’t be tempted to use the paste color that you might use for coloring buttercream, the liquid red gives this batter just the right amount of color.
Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes
- 2 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 Cup Canola Oil
- 2 Egg
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 1 Cup Buttermilk
- 2 Tbsp Liquid Red Food Coloring
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 tsp White Vinegar
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
- 8 oz Cream Cheese room temperature
- 8 Tbsp. Softened Butter 1 stick
- 4 Cups Confectioner's Sugar
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1 Tbsp. HeavyWhipping Cream
- In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, salt, and cocoa. Set aside
- In a medium bowl combine the buttermilk and red food color. Set aside
- In the bowl of an electric or stand mixer combine oil, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs and mix on low for 3 minutes.
- With mixer on low speed alternate adding flour and buttermilk mixture, starting and ending with a flour addition.
- In a small dish combine the baking soda and vinegar. Add this to cake batter. Fold in and mix until just incorporated.
- Using a 2 oz scoop or 1/4 cup measuring cup portion batter into cupcake wells.
- Line cupcake pan with paper liners. This batch size makes approx 22 cupcakes, or 2- 8 inch cake rounds.
- Bake at 325° for 20-25 minutes for cupcakes, or 30-35 minutes for cakes.
- Allow to cool completely before frosting.
To Make the Frosting
- Before diving into the mixing marathon, ensure your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature.
- In a large bowl, beat the softened cream cheese and butter together until the mixture reaches a fluffy consistency
- Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Mix well after each addition.
- Add the vanilla and heavy cream and mix until it has a light and airy consistency.
- Fill the pastry bag and squeeze out any extra air bubbles. Frost the cupcakes by starting from the center of the cupcake and making your way to the outer edge in a spiral motion until each cupcake has a nice tall pile of frosting.
- Sprinkle the tops with the candied pecan praline mixture.
Time to make the frosting!
There is so much to say about this frosting that I’m working on writing an entire post to it. I’ll link it here when its done, but suffice it to say, this buttercream is the out of this world. Don’t believe me? I even had special parking signs for my loyal customers who just couldn’t get enough of this stuff. One woman would order it by the pint…WITH A SPOON!
So I’m not saying eat this right off a spoon, but if you did, you most definitely wouldn’t be the first!
Ultimate Buttercream Frosting
- 1 lb Butter Unsalted, softened
- 2 lb Powdered Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/3 cup Milk
- 2-4 drops Cheesecake Oil Optional
- Using an electric or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat softened butter until it is soft and smooth. Approx 5-10 minutes depending on how soft the butter was to start with. You may need to scrape the sides to fully incorporate the butter.
- Change to whip attachment and add powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, cheesecake oil, and milk. Begin mixing on low speed then slowly increase to medium. Continue mixing until the buttercream is light and fluffy. The key to this buttercream is whipping it. It transforms into a silky, melt-in-your-mouth frosting.
Putting it all together
Now that you have your praline, your cupcakes and your frosting, its time to make the magic happen and combine these lovely flavors together.
Place the star piping tip into your pastry bag and fill it up with buttercream. Now frost the cupcake with as much or as little frosting as you like. I like to celebrate the frosting and make it the star of the show, so I tend to make my cupcakes with equal amount of cake and frosting. ( 2 oz cupcake, topped with 2 oz buttercream if you want to get technical)
Sprinkle them with a little praline topping, Red Velvet cake crumbs and top them off with a dusting of cocoa powder.
If you make this cupcake, be sure to share it on social with #betterbakerclub. I can’t wait to see and hear all about your creations!