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The one that didn’t make it – Christmas red velvet mini cupcakes

November 24, 2011

Some days, sh*t happens and you just have to get on with it. I had ‘one of those days’ when I went to the Let’s Make Christmas food blogger gift swap at Fortnum and Mason last week.

I’d already made some pistachio nuts chocolate truffles but decided to also bring along some mini red velvet cupcakes. So the night before, I set about making these little beauties (and they WERE beautiful), then frosting and decorating them. There is something about mini cupcakes that are just really appealing to me – it’s all in the size, I believe. Plus the fact I can just about pop one, whole, into my mouth. Frosting and all.

Putting my faith in public transport, off I went with my cupcakes and chocolate truffles all nicely packaged up. The cupcakes were a little more problematic to transport. I had a cupcake cardboard box, but had to cut special mini sized holes to hold the mini cupcakes in place. A bit more effort but it was all worth it as they did look ever so pretty and festive. I was looking forward to someone really enjoying them.

Alas, on my way to the gift swap, a fellow passenger on the tube swung his duffel bag out wide in my direction and made contact with my precious gifts. When I checked them, two of the cupcakes were completely ruined and I mean completely – they’d escaped from their little holes and were lying forlornly on their sides, beautiful Christmas tree-like frosting smeared all over the inside of the box. It looked like someone had sneezed a big green mess all over my cupcakes.

Now at this point, you may be laughing out loud but let me tell you, I was truly close to tears just thinking of all my wasted efforts. I wanted to stamp my feet and shake my fist at the silly man who’d swung his bag at me but it wasn’t for him to know I had a delicate present on me. I did consider submitting them anyway but I just couldn’t give something that wasn’t close to perfect to a fellow food blogger – would you want a gift that looked like this?

I guess there is no use crying over spilled milk (or ruined cupcakes). Even though I couldn’t share these cupcakes with anyone at the gift swap, I’d still like to share the recipe with you, because it really is a good one, and perhaps they will make yours, or someone else’s Christmas. If they do, it would make mine too.

I’ve used this recipe before to make regular sized cupcakes, they are now my go-to recipe for red velvet cake/cupcakes/mini cupcakes and can be found here but I have made a couple of minor changes for the mini cupcakes.

To make your red velvet mini cupcakes

  • 2 eggs
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • 250ml sunflower oil (I used rapeseed oil)
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 150ml buttermilk
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of/baking soda
  • 2 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 ½ tbsp natural cocoa powder (or Dutch processed if necessary)
  • ¾ tsp red food colouring paste (I used less as there wasn’t a need for a bright red colour)
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C or Gas 5. Line a mini cupcake tray with cupcake cases.
  2. Put the eggs, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. While whisking, add the oil in a steady stream until fully combined and the mixture thickens slightly. With my Kitchenaid mixer on speed 2, this took no more than 3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  3. Put the buttermilk, bicarbonate of/baking soda and vinegar in a smaller, separate bowl. The mixture should bubble quite actively and then fade.
  4. In another bowl, combine the flour and cocoa powder and sift twice.
  5. Add one third of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until well incorporated. Add half the buttermilk mixture and mix until just combined. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, then the rest of the buttermilk. Finally, add the last third of the flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.
  6. Add the food colouring last and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. A wooden skewer inserted in the middle of a cupcake should come out with almost no crumbs attached. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

To make the ultimate cream cheese frosting

  • 250ml whipping cream, very cold
  • 175g mascarpone
  • 175g cream cheese
  • 85g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2tsp vanilla extract 
  • ¾ tsp dark green food colouring paste
  1. Whisk the cream to stiff peaks. Set aside.
  2. Put the mascarpone, cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla extract in another bowl and beat until well combined.
  3. Add one third of the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and beat until combined. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add the food colouring last and stir until thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Frosting must always be refrigerated, due to the fragility of whipped cream.
  6. Pipe the frosting on to your cooled mini cupcakes. Top with decorations – I used edible stars and silver balls.

Yields about 36 mini cupcakes

Recipe adapted from Tea with Bea

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2011 12:25 AM

    These look really tasty, and the pictures are great 🙂

  2. November 24, 2011 3:36 PM

    Oh no, that’s such a shame that the beautiful frosting ended up like it did! 😦 The perils of commuting in busy London… they look lovely though, like mini christmas trees!

    • November 24, 2011 3:39 PM

      Thanks breadetbutter. I tried to be very careful but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be…

  3. November 24, 2011 4:38 PM

    Oh no, that’s not funny at all. The recipe’s a great one though!

  4. Jessica A permalink
    November 26, 2011 10:26 AM

    Awww..sorry to know about the sad story behind the Christmas Tree mini cupcakes. On the upside (for me) it tasted very good, perfectly moist. A lovely gift, I’ll have one, anytime.

  5. cmills10 permalink
    November 27, 2011 3:20 PM

    Reblogged this on Caroline's Plate and commented:
    Love this tragic yet comical story. I think everyone can relate. Especially those with little ones (they can mess up hard work any day).

    • November 27, 2011 6:03 PM

      Ah, thanks Caroline 🙂 Think I’ll have to put a lock on the kitchen door when I do have kids!

  6. November 30, 2011 12:36 AM

    Oh what a shame!! I bet they were amazing. xx

  7. November 30, 2011 9:45 AM

    Awww, they look gorgeous!! I love how the frosting shapes so sharply and well!

    It’s a shame somebody crashed on them on the tube! 😦 But anway they must have been delicious even then!

    • November 30, 2011 10:26 AM

      Thanks S. This frosting holds really well but is still very fluffy. And yes, they were still delicious despite looking so messy!

  8. December 8, 2011 1:31 PM

    Oh, I’m so sorry for that! Your cupcakes looked so lovely – you are such a talented baker! I cannot pipe to save my life. 🙂

  9. December 12, 2011 5:34 AM

    Sad because it was funny. Funny because it was sad. I can’t decide. Either way, good story, sad outcome. But definitely our gain for having you post about it.

    Love the xmas tree idea for frosting, SO cute! I have to admit it had never crossed my mind and I guess I had never seen them done like this before, such a simple yet elegant idea. I totally want to steal the look for my mini-cupcake contribution to my daughter’s class-year-end-potluck. But I may not be able to pull off the red velvet. Do you think a regular buttercream frosting would hold the tree shape well (to go with plain vanilla or chocolate cupcakes)?? Any suggestions on a nice, stiff looking, but good frosting?

    • December 13, 2011 3:32 PM

      Hi Megan – thanks for your comment. A regular buttercream would probably hold better anyways. Personally, I’m not a big fan of American buttercream as I find them grainy and generally too sweet. I have in the past, made the American buttercream from Tarekh Malouf’s Hummingbird cookbook. If not, my Swiss meringue buttercream also holds well and is not as sweet as the American buttercream. Hope this helps! If you’d like the Hummingbird one, please drop me an email and I can send it through 🙂

  10. November 15, 2013 8:50 PM

    Hi,
    These sounds like Yummy..!!
    This Christmas Red velvet CupCake looks delicious and adorable.
    I love red velvet Cupcake most.I read your recipe really unique and easy to make.
    Thanks For Sharing….

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