Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

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Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

As popular as red velvet cake (and red velvet everything) has become, I don’t remember ever having red velvet cake as a kid.  I do, however, have a vivid childhood memory of gasping with girlish delight as they cut into the armadillo cake in the movie Steel Magnolias.  I guess ever since then I’ve had red velvet cake on my mental baking list.  But my attitude toward artificially-dyed foods has changed quite a bit since those days and now every time that I pull out a red velvet recipe, I gasp with utter disgust at the thought of 1/4 cup or more of artificial red food coloring in my cake.  When I started experimenting with natural food dyes a couple of years ago, and especially after I made my naturally-dyed rainbow cake, I vowed to never make an artificially-colored red velvet cake.

Red velvet cake is interesting because it is technically a chocolate cake (although the amount of cocoa powder is minimal compared to the amount of chocolate in other chocolate cake recipes).  Depending on the recipe (amount of food coloring, the pH ratios in the ingredients, etc.), the color of the cake can range anywhere from a brilliant red to a brownish red.  {Though it wouldn’t technically be red velvet, if you want a red cake but don’t want the chocolate, you could simply use the same beet dye in your favorite white or pound cake.}

In this first attempt, I started with the easiest solution and simply substituted beet juice for the red food coloring.  My family devoured them (even without the frosting).  However, if you are looking for a true red, know that these ended up more on the brownish-red end of the spectrum.  Next on my list will be to use pureed beets and play with the pH a bit more to try to achieve a more vibrant red (such as this beautiful cake over on Sophistimom).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20-24
Simply substitute beet juice for the red food coloring for a natural way to dye your red velvet cake or cupcakes.
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup beet juice, to color
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1½ tsp vinegar
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 8-ounce pack low-fat cream cheese
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  1. Beat the sugar and the butter.
  2. Add the eggs.
  3. Alternately mix in the remaining dry and wet ingredients.
  4. Stir in the beet juice until you reach your desired color.
  5. Color may fade or change while baking.
  6. Bake the cupcakes at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Beat the butter and the cream cheese on high.
  2. Mix in the vanilla and then mix in the powdered sugar gradually.
  3. Beat on high until a smooth, creamy frosting forms.
  4. Ice the cupcakes as desired and refrigerate any leftover frosting and frosted cupcakes.


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