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.
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!
Basic Buttercream Frosting
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.)
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...
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!
holidays be bright!
~ Cleo Coyle, author of
New York Times
And an Amazon and
Barnes & Noble
A Mystery Guild
Publisher's Weekly: “Sprightly…and engaging.”
“Jingle bells, beautiful displays, scrumptious treats:
Holiday season in New York City has it all,
including murder…Coyle’s coffeehouse series
captures the New York experience,
from high-society parties to gritty back-street deals.
The fine mystery is followed by some holiday
recipes that will even pack the pounds on readers
who are only browsing them.”
a perfect Christmas mystery. A treat..."
The clock is ticking down
on some fun contests (links below).
* CONTEST #1 at Fresh Fiction
* CONTEST #2 at Latte Da!
Read a special excerpt from the opening of Holiday Buzz, leave a comment, and you will be entered to win a stainless steel NYPD travel mug, a personally inscribed copy of my new book, and my recipe card for Candy Cane Frosting. Contest ends Sat. Dec.15th - Click here to enter Dru's contest.
* New Contest at Lori's Reading Corner:
Read a brand new exclusive excerpt from the book, a scene between Clare Cosi and her ex-husband Matt that I call: "Manhattan munchies, a tempting patty melt, and a clue to murder..." - Be sure to use Lori's entry form at the end of the post, and you will be entered to win a personally inscribed copy of Holiday Buzz and my recipe card for Candy Cane Frosting. Contest ends Sun. Dec. 23rd. Click here to enter Lori's contest.
and have fun,