I have been trying to find a great red velvet recipe since about last May, when we had some wonderful red velvet cake at Claim Jumper for Jared's birthday. I probably tried 2 or 3 recipes last Fall and each one was a bigger flop than the next. I was seriously depressed and felt like a major failure for a couple weeks. Dacia was here last week and we decided to attempt them one last time for Valentine's. We each tried a different recipe... I tried another new recipe from scratch, and Dacia tried a kicked up box mix recipe that we found on Picky Palate.
The verdict: although mine finally turned out and tasted good enough, we both preferred the box mix. So there you have it. We apparently have completely uncultured taste. But after struggling so hard to even find a red velvet recipe that works, I'll stick with this box mix from here on out. At least you know you can't foul them up.
We topped these with the best cream cheese frosting I've ever made and these little cupcakes were seriously delicious. We wanted to make them extra fancy for Valentine's and Dacia had a stroke of genius to make cute little chocolate hearts to go on top and I think they may be the cutest cupcakes I have ever made. The little hearts on top were seriously easy and I can't wait to try different pictures for cupcake toppers. They were just so cute!
Anyways, here's a great little cupcake for Valentine's!
1 box Red Velvet Cake Mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
8 oz. sour cream (I was out and substituted plain yogurt with no problem)
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
1-2 Tbsp. red food coloring, optional (without it, you won't get a very deep red for your cupcakes, which may or may not be a big deal to you)
This frosting is seriously yummy. And I'm not a frosting kind of girl. But a word of warning... this makes a TON. If you're only planning on using it to frost these cupcakes, you can easily halve it. And looking at the ingredients list is seriously scary... these aren't for the health conscious!
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 1/2 lbs. cream cheese, slightly softened (2 1/2, 8 oz. packages)
1 lb. butter (the entire 4 sticks, my friends...)
2 lb. powdered sugar, sifted (yes, that's an entire large bag...)
1 Tbsp. vanilla
Mix the butter and cream cheese until well combined. Add the sugar and mix until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla and a pinch of salt.
For Chocolate Hearts:
Candy Melts in desired colors (we used red and chocolate-- you can find them at Jo-Ann's, Michaels, Wal-Mart, even party supply stores)
Piping bag or ziploc bag
Melt candy hearts either in microwave, stovetop, or I always melt them in the oven. I put them in an oven proof bowl, set the oven to very low (either the warm setting or 200) and let them melt slowly. I find that they stay the right texture longer when I melt them slowly.
Fill a piping bag, or sturdy ziploc bag with melted chocolate. Snip the bottom corner of your ziploc bag and trace heart shapes onto waxed paper. Dacia drew hearts on her paper first with a pen, and then flipped it over, to use as a template. But once she got about halfway through, she realized she could draw a heart free-handed just fine. Allow your outlines to set.
Fill another piping bag or ziploc bag with your other color and fill in your heart shapes. I used the tip of a baby spoon and toothpick to fill in all the corners. Again let that set, and then remove. Voila! You have adorable, perfect little heart toppers.