Red Velvet Cupcakes with Mascarpone Creamcheese Frosting

Now, I have been reading about these and people at work have been requesting them, but I have never had one.  Hard to make a cupcake when you’re not even sure what it is supposed to taste like.  That said, I noticed at Starbucks they had Red Velvet Cupcakes.  I decided to try one to see what the fuss is about.  Quite honestly, I didn’t think it was that special.   I have however for the past month been researching different recipes.  It’s funny how, well not funny haha.. but funny still how for one simple recipe there is hundreds of versions for one thing as simple as a cupcake.

I decided to take a leap and try the one at Epicurious.   They tell you to add a lot of food coloring, and put the ingredients together in an odd way.. so I kinda changed it based off how other similar recipes are done and I know they turned out amazing.   I know the soda, acid, and dutch cocoa turns it a red color, so I dropped how much to coloring to add, and increased the cocoa requirements, and dropping the vinegar, and it has that suble cocoa taste and a nice rich red color with out being an obnoxious Christmas red color.

The frosting didn’t turn out as planned, maybe my kitchen was just too hot… It wasn’t sweet enough, and was really quite thin.  I made some alterations, and it worked! Like I said the only one I’ve had was at Starbucks, and honestly I was not that impressed, but this is probably the best cupcake I’ve had ever!  If I was to have a wedding cake this would be it!  It’s rich, not overly sweet, so soft, velvety, light cake with a frosting that is almost good enough on it’s own.  It is in a simple word that doesn’t quite suit it… amazing.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • 1 tbsp red food coloring
  • 4 tbsp dutched processed cocoa powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs + 1 Egg yolk
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 tsp distilled white vinegar


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract, clear
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone (Italian cream cheese, available at most grocery stores)
Edit: Photo update 6/4/11 (I remade these with a swiss buttercream cream cheese frosting, they were fantastic! the recipe is a basic swiss buttercream substituted 1/2 the butter for cream cheese)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare your cupcake tins by adding the baking papers.

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. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter for about 4 minutes.  While that is mixing, in a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, salt, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Stir the vanilla  vinegar, and sour cream into the buttermilk (this can be done in a large measuring cup). Add the flour mixture in 3 increments alternately with the buttermilk in 2 increments, starting and ending with the flour. Beat on medium speed just until the ingredients are 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 over-bake, 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.

To make the icing: In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar 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.

Adapted: Epicurious