This marks the first time I’ve posted a new cupcake recipe on here in more than four years. Wild, but true. I vastly prefer to make layer cakes and I hate cleaning muffin/cupcake pans, but there few reasons for whole layer cakes in a pandemic and cupcakes are far more precaution-friendly than sliceable options, so I’m trying to get back into them. People really like no-contact cupcake delivery. Just saying.
Today’s offering? Red Velvet Marble Cupcakes! With swirls of red velvet in both the cake and the cream cheese frosting, these are perfect for Valentine’s Day or any day!Before I get to how these cupcakes get their marble, let’s discuss red velvet on its own. This southern flavor is divisive; some love it, some hate it, and some love to hate it. I obviously love it, as evidenced by years of red velvet treats for Valentine’s Day (and Oscar Night). The big appeal for me is that it isn’t chocolate or vanilla—it’s a little of both! It’s like the soft serve swirl cone of cakes (?), but red. The signature color used to primarily be from the chemical reaction of cocoa and baking soda, but now it’s usually from food coloring. You can leave out the dye in this recipe if you really want to, but I love the deep ruby color.Now for the marbling! Here, red velvet cake batter is swirled into delicious vanilla sour cream cupcakes. These little cakes are moist and springy and out-of-this-world good. They are assembled from just one batter—the red velvet is made by stirring cocoa powder, a tablespoon of milk and red food coloring into a small portion of the vanilla mixture. Both colors are scooped into the cupcake pans, then swirled together before baking.As for the cream cheese frosting, I had originally planned to keep it completely traditional, but ultimately decided to continue the marble motif, dying half the frosting red and flavoring it with a hint of cocoa for maximum red velvet realness.To achieve a marbled/swirled frosting effect, I loaded both colors into the same piping bag, doing my best to keep them on separate sides. You can purchase specialty piping bags for this, or use two smaller bags in a larger bag, but I took the easy way out and also tried to let go of the outcome. Baking is much more fun when you let go of the outcome. I totally love how they all turned out a bit differently!These cupcakes, y’all! If you or your valentine(s) are into red velvet, you’re going to love them. The vanilla portion is delicious, but that chocolate-vanilla hint of red velvet really takes the (cup)cake!
Red Velvet Marble Cupcakes
makes 12-14 cupcakes
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the Red Velvet portion:
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon milk
1-2 teaspoons liquid red food coloring (I used 1/4 tsp red gel + 2 teaspoons water)
Marbled Red Velvet Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces (1 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1-2 teaspoons liquid red food coloring (I used 1/8 teaspoon red gel)
Make the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.
Combine milk and sour cream a liquid measuring cup, then use a fork to whisk them together. Set aside.
In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Mix in half the dry ingredients, followed by half the milk/sour cream. Add the remaining dry ingredients followed by the remaining milk/sour cream.
Make the red velvet portion. Scoop 1 cup of the batter into a small bowl. Add cocoa, milk and red food coloring and mix to combine.
Add 1 tablespoon of plain batter to each cupcake liner. Top each with 1 tablespoon of red velvet batter, followed by 1 tablespoon of plain batter. Liners should be 2/3-3/4 full. Tap full pan on the counter five times before baking for 18-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.
Make the marbled frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, until completely combined. Beat in vanilla. Once combined, beat on high for two additional minutes, until light and fluffy.
Remove half the frosting to a medium mixing bowl. Mix in cocoa powder and 1-2 teaspoons liquid red food coloring.
Load half the plain frosting into a piping bag fitted with a coupler and star tip, pressing it as much to one side as possible. Carefully load half the red velvet frosting into the remaining side. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect or symmetrical. Twist the bag closed, then pat it a couple of times to remove the air bubbles. Frost cupcakes as desired, adding remaining frostings to the bag when needed.
Cupcakes will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.