So the saying goes, ‘as American as red velvet cupcakes.’ Or something like that.

This recipe resulted from a rainy Saturday spent watching my six-year old cousin. It was too cold to go to the pool, so we decided to bake. My cousin had but one request: red velvet cupcakes. Luckily, red velvet happens to be my favorite kind of cupcake, too, thanks to the cupcake craze of a few years back. However, after sampling dozens of cream cheese frosted creations from such fine baking establishments as Georgetown Cupcakes, Crumbs, and Magnolia Bakery, I have high standards. It doesn’t take much for a red velvet cupcake to go from ‘Mmmm!’ to ‘Meh.’

With this recipe, we found the perfect red velvet cupcake. The cupcakes were moist and not too crumbly, and the frosting delicately sweet. Furthermore, and to the delight of my six-year-old cousin, they were the ideal shade of red. Our happy taste-testers could hardly believe that we had made the cupcakes completely from scratch.

Since it’s almost time for the 4th of July, we decided to up the America factor of the cupcakes by topping them with blueberries and sliced strawberries, along with some festive flag toothpicks. Have a wonderful holiday, and God bless the stars, stripes, and sprinkles.

These cupcakes are completely homemade, but your guest will think you bought them at a bakery.

These cupcakes are completely homemade, but your guest will think you bought them at a bakery.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Makes 35


For the cupcakes:

Pretty and Patriotic

Pretty and Patriotic

3 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
35 cupcake liners

For the Frosting:

12 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 pound of powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla


blueberries, washed and dried (2 per cupcake)
strawberry, washed, dried, and cut in half (one half per cupcake)


Make the cupcakes:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Whisk cake flour, cocoa, and salt in a bowl.
3.  Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time.
4.  With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Speaking from experience, do not handle the red food coloring while wearing a white shirt.) Add vanilla. 5.  Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.
6.  Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.
7.  Divide batter among lined cupcake pans, filling each well about 2/3 full.  Place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.  Cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting:

1.  Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
2.  Add sugar and vanilla and beat on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before frosting the cupcakes.
3.  Liberally frost each cupcake, and top with the berries.  Add a flag toothpick, too, if you’re feeling especially patriotic. Refrigerate until serving, and serve cold.

Our decorating station

Our decorating station

The finished result (We topped some cupcakes with raspberries, too!)

The finished result (We topped some cupcakes with raspberries, too!)


Carolyn Green

Carolyn Green believes in secret ingredients, striped aprons, and serving breakfast for dinner. A rising senior at the University of Notre Dame, Carolyn is a design and art history major who loves both tailgating and taking afternoon tea. Besides cooking, she enjoys running, traveling, and writing. Have a question, comment, or request? Send Carolyn a note at

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