Friday, April 13, 2012

"Vista" Blue Velvet

I discovered a new blog a few months ago: Sprinkle Bakes. I've been having a good time poking around on it. It speaks to me. It's quirky and colorful. It's written by Heather; an artist turned self taught baker and a southerner. I instantly liked her. (Well, I've never met her, but, if she has half the personality of her blog, then she must be quite a character.) Maybe we'll meet someday. What I love about Heather's blog is her love of color. And, well, I love color. She also has a great sense of presentation. And, well, I like a great presentation. I think it's the graphic designer in me. Don't get me wrong, first and foremost, I want what I make to taste great. Not just great, I want it to blow your hair back. But, I also like food to be pretty. I want you eyes as well as your taste buds to say "WOW"!

I've been saving recipes from her blog and intending to make them for a few months now. When I discovered her post for Blue Velvet Cupcakes. . .that's right "blue" not "red" velvet. . .I knew it was the first thing I wanted to make. Why? Well because my daughters high school is "Vista", and their colors are Navy Blue and Silver and their rally cry is "Vista Bleeds Blue"! Then it hit me: "Vista Blue Velvet". I couldn't resist the alliteration. I'm weird like that. I'm kinda ashamed I didn't think to make Blue Velvet before. It's really not much of a leap from Red Velvet. Truth be told you could swap out the red coloring in Red Velvet for just about any color. So Blue Velvet it is. . .

Here's what you need: sugar, butter, eggs, cocoa powder, royal blue gel food coloring, violet gel food coloring, cake flour, salt, buttermilk, vanilla, baking soda and vinegar.

Combine the cocoa powder and food coloring into an intensely colored paste. 
Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar. Really give it a go. You want it very light and very fluffy. 
It should be very pale in color when properly creamed. 
Add in the eggs and mix thoroughly.

Next add the cocoa powder/food coloring paste mixture. Mix well.

You now have some serious blue goo!

Sift together the flour and salt.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix on medium-low just until incorporated.

Now add 1/2 the buttermilk, mixing just until combined. Then another 1/3 of the flour, mix.  Then the second 1/2 of the buttermilk, mix. End with the remainder of the flour and mix. Throughout this process, mix on medium-low speed just until combined and scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently. Mix in the vanilla. Stir together the vinegar and baking soda, then add to the batter and mix to combine.

Now fill the cupcakes a little more than 1/2 full. I used a rounded scoop from a #24 disher. It's equal to 1-1/2 ounces or a scant 1/4 cup and it's the perfect amount to get a nice dome on the cupcakes. I actually got mine a bit too full so next time I'll probably use a less rounded scoop from the disher. This is a pretty thick batter so give the pan a little rap on the counter to settle the batter into the bottom.

You should have enough batter to make about 24 cupcakes. I only made 12 and then spread the rest of the batter into a 9"x 9" pan. I'm going to use this to make something later. Shhh, it's a surprise. But here's a hint: If you read Bakerella's Blog then you probably know what I'm going to make.

Bake the cupcakes in a preheated 350°F oven for about 25-30 minutes. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let them cool completely before icing.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting combine butter, cream cheese and vanilla until nice and creamy.  All ingredients should be at room temperature.

Then add the powdered sugar and whip until nice and fluffy. Again, really give it a go. The more air you whip into the icing the lighter it will be. If you want to keep it simple just use a knife to spread on the frosting. Or, if you want to get fancy used a Ateco #808 tip and a 14-inch piping bag to pipe a nice swirl on top. Since Vista's colors are blue and silver, I sprinkled the tops with some silver jimmies that I had on hand. Decorate however you like.
Note: I only made a 1/2 recipe of the Cream Cheese Frosting because I only needed enough for 12 cupcakes. 
For 24 cupcakes, make a full recipe.

So here's the verdict. As I made them, I'd give these cupcakes about an 8. I LOVED the cake recipe. It had a great flavor and texture. I will make it again and again. Red Velvet, Green Velvet, Pink Velvet, oh the possibilities. As for the color, it's still a bit too green for me. I think next time I'll back off a bit on the royal blue and add in a bit more of the violet. Lastly, next time I think I'll try a different frosting. As cream cheese frostings go, this one wasn't bad. I still prefer Rose Levy Beranbaum's "White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing". But, to be totally honest, I'm not very fond of cream cheese icing. I think next time I'll try "cooked flour" frosting which according to many bloggers is the traditional frosting for Red Velvet cake. So, although I gave these an "8", with just a few tweaks I thing they have the potential to be a "10".

Here is the link to the recipe on Sprinkle Bakes: Blue Velvet Cupcakes.

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