Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Blue Velvet Cupcakes and a Cupcake Menorah for Hanukkah Week from Cleo Coyle


Like red velvet cake, blue velvet carries a wonderful hint of cocoa. This is a beautiful cupcake for birthday parties and baby or wedding showers. Because blue is also the color for Hanukkah, I used this recipe to make a cupcake menorah for the first night of Hanukkah this past Saturday evening--and, no, unlike the oil, they did not last eight days! My husband and our friends ate them all on the very first night.

As for the recipe, I'm passing on an easy one to make. It even uses a cake mix as a starter, but there are some tricky aspects, which is why I’m sharing some tips, too.

Whether you are celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Yule, I send you the warmest wishes for these cold, dark months...

May your own holidays be bright!

~ Cleo Coyle 





Cleo Coyle's 
Blue Velvet Cupcakes 
with 
Basic Buttercream Frosting 


 To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.




Makes about 16 cupcakes

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

1 box of white or vanilla cake mix (with pudding in the mix)

4 teaspoons natural, unsweetened cocoa powder 

1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)

3 eggs (lightly beaten with a fork)

1 cup whole milk + ¼ cup whole milk (add separately)

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1-2 teaspoons Royal Blue food coloring gel or paste (also called Icing Color)


For the basic buttercream frosting

10 tablespoons butter, softened

3 cups confectioners’ sugar (aka powdered or icing sugar)

3 tablespoons whole milk (+ maybe a little extra)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Royal Blue food coloring gel paste (also called Icing Color)

*Important Note on the food coloring: Because of the brown cocoa powder in this recipe, your cupcakes will end up turquoise in color (or even greenish) instead of blue if you use the wrong kind of food coloring or the wrong amount. To get the beautiful shade of blue in my photos, be sure you do two things: (1) Do not use water-based food coloring such as McCormick’s brand. Use a gel paste coloring. I used Wilton Royal Blue Icing Color gel paste. Michael’s stores carry it in their baking supplies section, but you can also buy it online; click here to see. (2) My other piece of advice is to use enough of the food coloring. Don’t skimp. Start with 1 full teaspoon, at least. You made need up to another full teaspoon to see your batter turn the shade of blue you like best. (Some bakers add a very small amount of violet gel paste to help achieve a deep, royal blue. Give that a try, if you like, but I did achieve a pretty blue color using only blue gel paste.)




Directions - For the...

Cupcakes

Step 1: First preheat your oven to 325° F. Place the vinegar in a measuring cup and fill to the 1 cup line with whole milk. Set aside for five minutes.

Step 2: Into a large mixing bowl, combine the box of cake mix, cocoa powder, vegetable or canola oil, and eggs. Add the sour milk from Step 1 and an additional ¼ cup whole milk. Beat with an electric mixer for about a minute until a smooth batter forms. (Be sure to scrape down the bowl as you mix.)

Step 3: Measure out 1 teaspoon of the royal blue gel paste and add it to the batter. Mix well and observe the color. You may need to add up to 1 more teaspoon of gel paste to achieve the depth of blue you want.

Step 4: Line cupcake tins with paper liners. Take out the ¼ cup container in your measuring set. Use it to measure out the batter for each cupcake. This will keep the size consistent.

Bake in your preheated 325° F. oven for 20 to 25 minutes (exact time depends on your oven). Cupcakes are done when the top is set and a toothpick inserted into the center of a test cupcake comes out free of wet batter. Transfer pans to a cooling rack and allow the cupcakes to cool in their pans at least five minutes before removing.


Directions for the...


Buttercream
Icing 


Notes for success: Canned icing doesn’t come close to comparing to the wonderful taste of homemade buttercream. It’s easy to make. Just be sure to: (1) Start with softened butter. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to cream it. (2) When adding milk start with the lowest amount possible and add it in very slowly until you achieve a smooth, spreadable icing. If you throw in a large amount of milk, you will end up with watery frosting—at that point, even if you whip more butter into it, the frosting may remain grainy. (Ask me how I know.)

Step 1: Into a mixing bowl, cut the softened butter into pieces. Measure in the vanilla. Using an electric mixer, cream these ingredients until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer.

Step 2: Add in the confectioners’ sugar and 3 tablespoons of milk. (No more!) Beat until the sugar is completely incorporated. If the frosting is still too thick, add in a very small splash of milk and beat again. Add in more milk this way, a little at a time, until you get a smooth consistency that’s easy to spread on your cupcake tops. (Try a test frosting of one cupcake to be sure.)

Step 3: Finally, add a small amount of gel paste coloring to the frosting and beat it again. Add more gel paste to achieve the exact shade of blue that you’d like. My method of adding the gel paste is pretty basic—I dip the tines of a fork into the bottle to scoop out the gel and roughly mix it into the frosting before beating again. Frost your cupcakes and eat with blue velvet joy!






May your
holidays be bright!


~ Cleo Coyle, author of 
The Coffeehouse Mysteries





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20 comments:

  1. So pretty! I can remember dying applesauce blue, when I was young, just for the heck of it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh my goodness, no doubt about it, these cupcakes sure are blue! LOL What a fun idea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Linda, I've been in love with blue cupcakes since I was introduced to ube cake--a popular Filipino dessert in my area of Queens, NYC. Ube is a beautiful blue-violet cake that gets its color from the root vegetable ube. Unfortunately, blue gel paste food coloring is easier to find in the USA than ube--although I'm determined to track some down and cook with it in the new year. Stay tuned for that post! In the meantime...

      Happy Holidays!
      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

      Delete
    2. That's so interesting. What's an ube?

      ~ Krista

      Delete
  3. An edible Menorah. Very cool.
    What do you do the rest of the nights?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bake more cupcakes! :)

      Thanks for dropping by the Kitchen, Libby, it's always a pleasure to hear from you.

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

      Delete
  4. Astonishing Cleo--you are so clever! happy holidays everyone:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. aw, thanks, Lucy, right back at'cha--on the clever *and* the holiday wishes. Cheers!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter


      Delete
  5. These are absolutely brilliant! Now if I could just figure out how to make these without real dairy. What do you think about me using Kosher margarine (no casein!) and perhaps rice or almond milk? I just want to make something blue :-) You have once again set my tastebuds to watering and my eyes to twinkling at your lovely photos.

    Nanc

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can't say for sure, but it's worth a shot. I think the cupcakes would work fine with the almond milk, and the frosting with the margarine. And thanks for the nice words about the photos. I had fun setting them up and snapping the shots--those cupcake pedestals are adorable aren't they?

      Always a joy to "see" you in our Kitchen Nanc, come on back and in the meantime, have a great holiday!

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

      Delete
  6. Wow, Cleo, so pretty. I was told never to eat anything blue, but this might break the tradition! LOL

    Daryl aka Avery

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL on the blue food--let's break it together with blueberries and blue corn tortillas! (Ube cake is what inspired me to do the blue cupcakes. Ube is a blue-violet root used in Filipino cooking, and I'm looking forward to posting about it in the New Year. For now, for ease, it's blue food coloring to the rescue. :))

      Thanks for dropping in today, Avery/Daryl, I appreciate it!

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

      Delete
    2. Fabulous photos as always, Cleo! Thanks for telling us about the ube root. It's new to me. I'm sure I won't find it around here, but sometimes these things pop up when you least expect them.

      ~ Krista

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    3. Thanks, Krista - agree on the ube. Online, it's easy to find in frozen/shredded form or even powdered. There's even an "ube flavoring" from McCormick's. I'm still looking for a fresh version at markets in my local area, but (barring that) I'll order it up frozen and play with it that way. More to come in the new year...until then, I hope you and your loved ones enjoy the holiday season.

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

      Delete
  7. I love the beautiful blues! Really fabulous and fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, MJ - that's funny. I just described you (and your books) as fabulous and fun. :)

      Warmest wishes to you and your family for a lovely holiday season,

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

      Delete
  8. Hi there. Food on Friday: Muffins and Cupcakes is open for entries. This looks like a neat one! I do hope you link it in. This is the link . Please check out some of the great links there are already. Cheers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for the invitation, Carole, I dropped over and linked this post. Thanks again and happy holidays to you!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

      Delete
  9. Cleo, thanks for linking this nice one in to Food on Friday. There is now a great collection of muffin and cupcake ideas to check out! Cheers
    Ps I have just signed up to follow your blog. A follow back to Carole's Chatter would be wonderful – or have you already followed? Cheers

    ReplyDelete

 

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