Early this week, my friend Heather called to ask for my whiskey ganache frosting recipe. When I inquired why she wanted it, she said she’d like to make some cupcakes for Friday night at Old Ironsides. The Poplollys were playing and the show marked the beginning of her weekend-long birthday celebration.
One cannot make cupcakes for their own birthday; it’s bad ju-ju.
We agreed I’d make her cupcakes; she requested red velvet with white chocolate frosting. After some web-based research, I settled upon a recipe from the Joy of Baking. That recipe can be found here. I made two alterations to the recipe; I used a few drops of green food coloring and one ounce of red. This produced a darker, richer red hue.
For the second batch, I added an additional cocoa powder and increased the vanilla extract; this improved the flavor— now, the cupcakes had a warm cocoa flavor. Perfect.
The cupcakes turned out lovely, but I think people are entranced by red velvet cake because it is red, not necessarily because the cake has a huge depth of flavor.
Don’t get me wrong, they were moist and had the desired crumbly texture, but I think they could be made better. I’ll be doing additional R&D in the coming months to hopefully improve this.
The recipe called for cake flour, which is more expensive and harder to find, but does produce a more delicate texture. Reading an old cookbook, I stumbled upon this substitution— for each cup of cake flour, substitute with 1 cup of All-Purpose flour and 2 TBSP. of cornstarch. There’s a science behind this involving the amount of protein, etc., in the different flours; if you want to geek out, I can post that information in comments.
Bottom line: I tried it, liked it, and doubt I’ll ever buy cake flour again.
Now, for the white chocolate frosting, I looked at several white chocolate frosting recipes; finally, I chose a buttercream-like frosting and winged it. I was pleased with outcome, but will continue to tweak the frosting recipe.
White Chocolate Frosting:
Melt 6 oz. white chocolate and 1/4 c. heavy whipping cream in a double boiler. As always, be patient and allow the chocolate to melt. Whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.
In a stand mixer, place 1/2 c. butter and 8 oz. cream cheese; beat until light and fluffy. Scrap down sides and pour in the cooled melted chocolate mixture; return to medium speed.
In 1-2 TBSP increments, add the 3/4 c. powdered sugar. Beat until frosting has doubled in volume.
Place in the fridge until the frosting has firmed up a bit. Using a frozen semi-sweet chocolate bar and fine grater, I added chocolate shavings to the tops. The frosting does not hold up well to the heat, so keep them in a cool place until ready to serve. I stashed them in the fridge, but due to the butter and cream cheese, I allowed the cupcakes to warm up a bit towards room temp before serving. Straight out of the fridge, the frosting is overly firm.
Three dozen were taken to the bar; when around 12.30 am, only a few stragglers were on the tray. It was a fun sight, grown ups excited for cupcakes at a bar. Any night the Poplollys play, it’s a good night and a good night was had by all, but most importantly, the birthday girl.