Thursday, August 22, 2013

Scarlet O'Hara Cupcakes by Lucy Burdette

Red Velvet Cupcake

Ever since I finished Elinor Lipman's latest novel, THE VIEW FROM PENTHOUSE B, I've had the urge to bake Scarlet O'Hara cupcakes, as one of her characters did. 

But what exactly is a Scarlet O'Hara cupcake? 


I Googled of course, and came up with this amazing Scarlet O'Hara cake. I wouldn't have the patience...

So then I turned to my Facebook pals who made a lot of suggestions. Most everyone recommended red velvet as the base, except for the one vote for sweet potato. The icing was trickier--how to show Scarlet's sass? Ginger? Peach? Chocolate ganache? Lemon? Cinnamon? Jalapeño???

I settled on red velvet with a raspberry cream cheese frosting. I don't know how authentic they were, but they tasted amazing!


2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons red food coloring (one 1-ounce bottle)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar


1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
about 40 raspberries

Directions for the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put 20-22 cupcake liners in two cupcake pans.
Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.
Add the vinegar to the milk in a glass measuring cup and let this sit ten minutes or so. Whisk milk, vanilla and eggs in large measuring cup.

Mix cocoa with food coloring in small bowl until smooth paste forms.

In another bowl, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as necessary. Add one-third of flour mixture and beat on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add half of milk mixture and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Repeat with half of remaining flour mixture, remaining milk mixture, and finally remaining flour mixture. Add cocoa mixture and beat on medium speed until completely incorporated, about 30 seconds.

Distribute the batter into the cupcake pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 18-22 minutes. Cool the pans ten minutes, then finish cooling the cupcakes on a wire rack. (The trick here is not to over beat or over cook, or cupcakes will turn out tough and dry.)
For the frosting: Beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Beat in the sugar and then vanilla. Set aside the 20 best raspberries, beat the remainder into the frosting. 

Frost the cupcakes and decorate with a raspberry. Refrigerate if you aren’t eating them right away.


You will find this recipe in the fifth food critic mystery, the one after MURDER WITH GANACHE, which will be out in February--though you can pre-order it now!

Don't forget to follow Lucy on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.


  1. Try 1/2 cup cocoa. It makes them better.

  2. I'll just bet they are delicious. I was the one who suggested sweet potatoes. Haha, I'm a rebel after all. I would have used a recipe for carrot cake and substituted mashed sweet potatoes, then used a cream cheese frosting.

  3. These sound wonderful! I can't wait to try them!

  4. I've already had breakfast, but still I'm drooling...I do so love cupcakes!

  5. These look fabulous, Lucy. I think I could exist purely on cupcakes!

    1. LOL LInda! If you read Krista's latest Diva mystery, they do exist on cupcakes:)

  6. Mmmm, the raspberry cream cheese frosting looks so good! The cupcakes do too but raspberry cream cheese, mmmmm!

    1. Elaine, I decided the raspberry cream cheese frosting would also be heaven on plain old sugar cookies:)

  7. Just gorgeous, Lucy/Roberta. Red velvet is the perfect cupcake for the famous "scarlet" lady and with late summer berries in the frosting, too, wonderful!

    ~ Cleo

    1. thanks Cleo! One of my friends suggested I needed to decorate with curtain rods:)

    2. Ha! You and Carol Burnett! (One of the best TV comedy bits ever to be aired. :))

    3. Curtains rods -- that's hysterical! I bet you could, maybe with a little skewer somehow . . .


    4. Cleo I heard carol interviewed about that skit on NPR recently. Absolutely hysterical!

  8. Oh these look great will have to make these this week.

  9. People love Red Velvet cupcakes! It's just amazing how popular they are. These look sensational, Lucy! Hmm, I have some raspberries . . .


  10. Lucy, these are darling. Really pretty and colorful and definitely sassy.

    Daryl/ Avery