Red Velvet Cupcakes For Christmas

Have you ever wondered where the term “Red Velvet Cupcakes” came from? For starters, there’s the crumb. This cupcake version of Red Velvet Cake has a beautiful crimson color, velvety and delicate, with a hint of vanilla and chocolate flavor, as its name suggests. It loves to grab the limelight, topped with airy cream cheese icing. And we’re happy to oblige!

How to make Red Velvet Cupcakes

The process is quite similar to that of traditional butter-based cakes.

  • Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl to remove any lumps. I don’t particularly appreciate sifting, but it’s required in this case since cocoa powder has a propensity to form lumps.
  • Cream butter, then sugar — Using an electric beater or a stand mixer, cream the softened butter for 1 minute, or until creamy. THEN whip in the sugar for another 2 minutes, or until it’s frothy and the butter has turned a very pale yellow, nearly white color.
  • Eggs – Beat in each egg one at a time until well blended.
  • Mix the remaining wet ingredients until well combined after incorporating the oil, buttermilk, vinegar, and vanilla.
  • Add the Dry Ingredients – Finally, add the Dry Ingredients and mix for 30 seconds, or until mixed and streaks of flour are no longer visible. This causes the batter to be overworked, resulting in a less soft cupcake. It’s fine if there are a few little lumps left. It’s preferable to overmixing, which is a typical cupcake error.
  • Important: Do not stop mixing the dry and wet components after the combination. Fill the muffin tray and pop it in the oven as soon as possible. The reason for this is that the baking powder gets activated once the wet and dry components are mixed. If you leave it out too long, the baking powder will begin to bubble up in the uncooked batter, causing it to fall flat when baked. This guideline holds for every baking recipe!
  • Fill muffin tins halfway with batter. Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 holes to produce 12 beautiful cupcakes. If you use a normal muffin tin and cupcake liners the same size as mine, the paper liners should fill 3/4 of the way up, resulting in wonderfully domed cupcakes!
  • In a 180°C/350°F (160°C fans) oven, bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center cupcake comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting for Red Velvet Cake Ingredients

Red Velvet Cupcakes For Christmas

  • Cream Cheese is the most popular icing for Red Velvet Cake and Cupcakes these days, and that’s what I’m going to show you today. The cupcakes go perfectly with the creamy, fluffy sweet icing and the tang of cream cheese!
  • Cream cheese must be blocked, not tub cream cheese, which is softer since it is spreadable. The frosting will be too soft and sloppy if you use a tub.
  • Philadelphia is still my go-to brand. However, I’d say that better value brands are quite nice these days (something I wouldn’t have said five years ago!). If you’re in Australia, Philadelphia cream cheese is soft enough to whip right out of the refrigerator these days. If you’re in the United States, set it out on the counter for a while. Make sure it’s softened before whipping it into a fluffy, creamy texture.
  • Soft icing sugar / powdered sugar – Not to be mistaken with pure icing sugar, which hardens when used in royal icing. Soft icing sugar / powdered sugar combines cane sugar and tapioca, or maize starch dissolves readily in soft, fluffy, and creamy frosting.
  • Butter — Adds richness and structure to the frosting, piping it.
  • Vanilla extract – for flavor.
  • Salt – A sprinkle of salt enhances the flavor of baked products!


Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup cake flour (instead of ordinary or all-purpose flour, see Note 1)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (Note 2)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (not baking soda, Note 3)
  • One tbsp. salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 60g unsalted butter, softened (about 4 tbsp) (Note 4)
  • a third of a cup of caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • a couple of big eggs, room temperature (Note 5)
  • a third of a cup of vegetable oil (or canola)
  • a half-cup of room-temperature buttermilk (Note 6)
  • One teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar (Note 7)
  • One tablespoon red food coloring (yep, one tablespoon!)

Frosting with cream cheese:

  • 1/3 cup softened unsalted butter (Note 4)
  • 170g / 6oz softened Philadelphia block cream cheese (Note 8)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted soft icing sugar mixture (powdered sugar) (Note 9)


Red Velvet Cupcakes For Christmas


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) (160 degrees Fahrenheit fan). Cupcake liners should be used to line a regular 12 hole muffin tray.

Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.

To make the butter creamier, place it in a separate bowl and beat it with an electric mixer or stand mixer on speed 2 for 1 minute (paddle attachment).

Add the sugar and continue to beat at the same speed for another 2 minutes, or until the butter is an extremely pale yellow, nearly white.

Add the eggs one at a time, pounding on speed 1 for 30 seconds after each addition.

Add the remaining wet ingredients: Combine the oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and red food coloring in a mixing bowl and beat on Speed 1 until well combined and smooth.

Sift the dry ingredients over the top and mix on Speed 1 for 20 seconds to incorporate the flour. Scrape down the bowl’s sides, then mix for another 10 seconds. The batter should now be smooth, with only a few tiny lumps acceptable. Do not continue to beat the batter; overworking the batter will result in fewer soft cupcakes.

Fill the pan: Divide the mixture evenly among the 12 cupcake liners; it should fill 3/4 of the way, but this may vary depending on the size of the liners you choose.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.

Remove the cupcakes from the oven and place them on a wire rack to cool. Allow cooling fully before applying cream cheese frosting.


Cream butter: Place butter in a mixing dish and beat for 1 minute, or until creamy and pale in color (speed six on stand mixer, speed nine on electric beater).

Cream cheese: Add cream cheese and beat on high for another minute until smooth.

Add icing sugar in four batches, beating until well integrated into between, starting on speed 1 to avoid a dust storm in your face!

Add the vanilla and salt, then beat for 2 minutes on speed 6 with a stand mixer or speed 9 with an electric beater until fluffy. It should be creamy yet retain its peak form (see video). If it’s too sloppy, chill it for 30 minutes before beating it again.

Transfer to a piping bag fitted with the proper piping tip. Pipe into cupcakes – this recipe creates enough frosting to frost 12 cupcakes liberally, as seen in the photo.

Recipe Notes:

Red Velvet Cupcakes For Christmas

1. Cake flour provides the cupcakes a deliciously formed dome and makes them a bit softer and “velvety” (true to its name!). The crumb will not be as soft, and the dome will have a small peak form (which isn’t a huge problem if concealed behind a mound of frosting!).

2. Cocoa powder — Use plain, unsweetened cocoa powder. There’s no need to use the more costly Dutch-processed, though if that’s all you have, it’ll suffice.

3. Baking powder, rather than baking soda, gives these cupcakes a prettier dome form (which I use for Red Velvet Cake, it needs a stronger leavening agent for larger cake).

4. Butter – Keep the butter from becoming too soft. This is a typical mistake in baking recipes that ask for creaming butter. For the butter, aim for 18°C/64°F — it’ll be colder than you think! When you probe it, it should not leave a thick, glistening slick of grease on your finger, but it should be soft enough to whip. If you have greasy fingertips, the butter is too soft, and the cupcake will be greasier than desired and will not rise as well. In the case of the frosting, it will make it too soft to pipe effectively. If the butter is over 20°C/68°F, I will refrigerate it for a few minutes before using it.

5. Eggs should be at room temperature, not cold from the fridge, to facilitate easy incorporation. How to quickly thaw cold eggs in the fridge: Place the eggs in a large mixing basin, cover with warm tap water (not hot), and set aside for 5 minutes. Wipe dry before using as directed in the recipe. 50–55g / 2 oz per egg is the industry norm for sizes sold as “big eggs” in Australia and the United States.

6. Buttermilk – Rather than manufacturing your alternative, buttermilk is the finest option for baked items. However, producing your own is still an excellent idea (and better than drinking plain milk): Combine 1/2 cup full-fat milk and 3/4 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Allow 15 minutes for it to thicken. Use in place of buttermilk (lumps and all!) in recipes.

7. Vinegar – This adds a small tenderness and “velvetiness” to the cupcake crumb while preserving the crimson color. More background information may be found in the “ingredients” portion of the post.

8. Cream Cheese — Use block cream cheese rather than the soft, spreadable cream cheese found in tubs (too soft, frosting gets too sloppy). Our Philadelphia is soft enough right out of the fridge, so there’s no need to leave it out till it softens. To my knowledge, only tub spreadable cream cheese is still available in the UK. So, for one batch, use half the amount of spreadable cream cheese, i.e., 90g/3oz, and add around 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (to up the tang slightly).

9. Soft icing sugar (not to be confused with PURE icing sugar, which is used for firm set icing such as royal icing) – Australia Soft icing sugar is a sugar combination designed for fluffy cream cheese frostings like this one.

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