A few weeks ago, it was Peter’s birthday. As with every year, I made cupcakes for him to take to work to share with his colleagues in honour of the day (it was admittedly a little more difficult to coordinate this year as he is still working predominantly from home). It was the perfect time to break out a recipe for red velvet cupcakes!
This year has been different in many respects. Of course, this meant that Peter didn’t specify a taste, he just wanted them to be red and white after his favourite soccer team, which recently won the championship(s) (and whose stadium is well worth a visit in Munich). Red velvet cupcakes with white chocolate cream cheese frosting fit the bill perfectly.
Some of the links below are affiliate links. We may earn a small commission if you use these links to make a purchase. Thank you! Please read our full disclosure for more information.
They’re not chocolate cupcakes, so why to red velvet cupcakes contain cocoa?
It has always irritated me that red velvet cupcakes contain cocoa. I know, most mothers tend to worry more about the red food colouring (and one of my brothers had an allergy to red food colouring). I am not normal.
But seriously, don’t you find it irritating that red velvet cupcakes contain cocoa when they are not chocolate cupcakes (and white chocolate does not even contain cocoa so it is technically not chocolate!).
I decided to investigate.
The history and chemistry of red velvet cake
Red Velvet cake is actually a product of the Great Depression (like our Depression Era cupcakes).
Traditionally, red velvet cake was made with unsweetened cocoa powder, buttermilk and vinegar. The antioxidant and vegetable pigment anthocyanin, which is found in the cocoa powder, reacts with the acid in the vinegar and buttermilk.
The anthocyanin turns red in the presence of acid and gives the cake its famous red-tinted colour. So, if you are a Mum who prefers not to use food colouring, you can leave the red food colouring out, as long as you have these 3 ingredients.
So why do we add the red food colouring?
Apparently, Adams Extract was looking to increase the sales of its food colouring and flavored extracts. To increase the sales, the company advertised Betty Adams’ red velvet cake, “the cake of a wife time”. It included two small bottles of red food colouring.
This recipe quickly became a favourite in the south of the US.
Time saving tips for your red velvet cupcakes
So you love red velvet cake, but don’t have much time? We’ve cut the time for you:
- Red velvet cupcakes instead of cake: they cook in half the time (and cook down quicker too)
- I added white chocolate mousse filling for fun. I also cheated and used a packet mix instead of spending ages whipping cream and separating egg whites (if you want to make your own from scratch, try this recipe).
- Take all the ingredients out of the fridge while you are finding everything so that they can soften while you get set up.
- Melt the white chocolate before you start making the cupcakes so that it has enough time to cool.
Tips for the perfect red velvet cupcakes
For the cupcakes
If you are going to use colouring (and not just rely on the natural blush resulting from the anthocyanin and acid), use gel food colouring. You won’t need as much and the colour will be much more vibrant.
For the filling
Seriously, cheat and use a packet mix and save your time! If you can’t get white chocolate mousse, use white chocolate pudding or custard or whatever you can get.
If all else fails, and you still want a white chocolate filling but can’t find a packet mix, melt approx. 100g white chocolate (100g) (in a water bath or the microwave) and allow it to cool. Mix it into 200 mL double or whipping cream (whipped). If it is too runny, refrigerate the mix for 15 minutes to ‘reset’ the chocolate. If it is still too runny, add 1 tablespoon of icing sugar and mix well.
For the frosting
This frosting is based on our favourite white chocolate frosting, with cream cheese for more tang.
You will need to melt the white chocolate for the frosting and then let it cool to room temperature. Do not cool it in the refrigerator (or even somewhere cool like a cellar).
You should also make sure that your cream cheese and better are at room temperature.
If your butter or cream cheese are too cold, the chocolate will start to set and go lumpy in your frosting (clogging up your piping tip). If your chocolate is too warm, it will melt the butter and cream cheese.
For the decorations
I had two different decorations for these cupcakes. Some had meringue soccer players and soccer balls and looked quite cute.
Others had single raspberries on top. The looked like… well, you can work it out.
Red velvet cupcakes with white chocolate cream cheese frosting
For the cupcakes
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 75 g butter
- ⅔ cups sugar
- 1 egg (large, at room temperature)
- 1 tsp red gel food colouring
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 tbsp apple cidre vinegar
- 1 tsp baking soda
For the white chocolate mousse or pudding
- 1 packet white chocolate mousse mix
- 300 mL milk or cream as per instructions
For the frosting
- 200 g white chocolate melted and cooled to room temperature
- 200 g cream cheese at room temperature
- 75 g butter softened
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
For the cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 170°c and line a muffin form with patty pans.
- Sift plain flour, corn starch, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla essence and red food colouring and mix until we combined.
- Add the dry ingredients one third at a time, alternating with the buttermilk and ending with the dry ingredients.
- Mix the baking soda and vinegar together in a small bowl and add to the batter quickly (it will be foaming) and mix well to combine.
- Fill the patty pans until they are about two-thirds full and bake for 17-18 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
For the white chocolate mousse
- Prepare according to the instructions on the packet.
- When the cupcakes have cooled, used a spoon to remove a hole in the top of each cupcake. Set the "lids" aside. Spoon in a good dollop of the white chocolate mousse and replace the lid.
White chocolate cream cheese frosting
- Beat the cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the white chocolate and beat until well combined.
- Add the vanilla and salt and sift in the icing sugar to avoid lumps. Mix to combine.
- If the frosting is too thick, add 1 tablespoon of cream and mix to combine.
- Frost the cooled cupcakes and enjoy!
When will you make our red velvet cupcakes with white chocolate cream cheese frosting?
Simple, delicious and elegant. These red velvet cupcakes with white chocolate cream cheese frosting (and a surprise white chocolate mousse filling) are perfect for so many occasions. A wedding. A special birthday. A Christmas party. Valentine’s Day. A win for your favourite team. Or a simple afternoon tea. The versatility makes this a great recipe to have in your arsenal.
To lighten the mood I thought I’d leave you with a wonderful quote:
“A red velvet cupcake makes the heart young again and wipes out the years.”Unknown