One of my all-time favorite desserts is Red Velvet Cake. But the worst part about knowing more of what goes into your food is that you can’t bear to eat your childhood favorite foods anymore. Who wants to eat a bunch of chemical food colorings? BLEH.

So I’ve done my research and figured out that the traditional way to make red velvet is to use beet juice. The first two cakes I made in the TTF test kitchen came out too dense. I like my desserts to be lighter and fluffier. So I added in some extra baking powder and an extra egg. The 3rd and 4th cakes didn’t have enough red color. I was tempted just to throw in some food coloring and be done with the whole thing.

Finally, I decided to go back to basics and figure out why red velvet has been historically such a popular cake. All red velvet cakes vary slightly but contain the same general ingredients — buttermilk, unsweetened cocoa, cake flour, butter, beets, vanilla and have a cream cheese frosting. The buttermilk creates a natural chemical reaction in cocoa and reveals its anthocyanin. That reaction not only creates the red tint that has made red velvet cake so popular but also is the reason why the cake is known to be a moist and flavorful bomb. Traditionally, they added whole beets to the cake in order to achieve the bright red color. (TIP #1) 

So I finally settled on a recipe that I liked enough and made the proper adjustments not only to the ingredients but to the procedure so that it turns out perfectly for you guys every time. I’ve lessened the time in the mixer in order to create a fluffier cake (TIP#2), and turned the recipe into a mini cupcake recipe because not only are they faster, but everyone loves things that are mini. (TIP#3) TRUST ME, this seems like quite a few steps but it’s super-easy. From beginning to end it’ll take you less than an hour. I made this for everyone at work and they haven’t stopped asking about them.

Note: VERY loosely adapted from Tyler Florence’s Red Velvet Beet Cake


For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups of beets (peeled and pureed)
1 1/4 cups of cake flour (triple sifted)
1 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of allspice
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 tsp of salt
2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
2 tbs of pomegranate molasses
3  extra large eggs
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1/2 cups of packed brown sugar
1/3 cup of vegetable oil (or canola oil)
1 packages of fresh strawberries, halved for topping

For the frosting:

2 8oz packages of cream cheese (DON’T get the 1/3 less fat ones)
2 sticks of butter (unsalted, softened to room temperature)
2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
2 tsp of lemon zest
3 cups of powdered sugar (double sifted)


For the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place each paper cup into your mini cupcake tin. In your mixing bowl, combine the sifted flour, baking powder and soda, seasonings and salt. In another bowl, combine your wet ingredients — eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil and add in the sugar. With the mixer set on low, slowly add in all your dry ingredients. Once that is just combined, use a spatula to fold in the beets.

Use a cookie scoop, or a small spoon to portion out the batter into the paper cups. The batter will be thick enough that it will portion out pretty easily. Bake for about 18-22 minutes, but start checking with a toothpick at 18 minutes. Depending on how juicy the beets are, it will determine how quickly the cupcakes bake. Once the pick comes out clean, the cakes are done.

Let the cupcakes cool completely before you frost them.

For the frosting: 

Using your standing mixer with the paddle attachment, put the setting on low and combine the butter and cream cheese, about 3 minutes. Then, throw in the vanilla extract and lemon. Beat for 1 more minute.

Then slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Make sure you stop every 90 sec or so to scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure the frosting is 100% combined. Once the frosting is completely smooth and glossy, you’re done.

Often, I don’t even use all of the necessary sugar. I like my frosting to be less sweet anyways, so once you feel the consistency is what you want it to be, just stop adding anymore sugar.

Spoon the frosting in a pastry bag and pipe on each cake once they’re cooled and top with a strawberry half. The tartness of the berries will cut the sweetness of the frosting and cake. (TIP #4)

Makes about 65 mini cupcakes. If you’re making regular sized cupcakes, increase the bake
time by another 6 minutes and start checking with a toothpick.

Buon appetito!

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