… and cranberry fudge and red velvet cupcakes from the Buttercup Bakeshop. Nothing says Happy Valentine’s Day better than red and white sweets fresh from the oven (or fridge, in the case of fudge). In need of impressive holiday desserts for a charity bake sale at work, I turned to one of my favorite cookbooks, The Buttercup Bakeshop Cookbook by Jennifer Appel. The Buttercup Bakeshop in New York City is famous for red velvet cupcakes and other old-fashioned desserts, and this cookbook lets you re-create a piece of the experience at home. For this special event, I picked my favorite red and white treats – White Fudge with Walnuts and Dried Cranberries and Red Velvet Cake (in its cupcake version). The cranberry walnut fudge looks festive when cut since the bright red cranberries stand out against the white chocolate. I used a heart shaped cookie cutter for a special valentine’s touch. The red velvet cake (a mixture of red food coloring and cocoa) also contrasts nicely against the white of the cream cheese frosting. Both proved to be a bake-sale favorite.
White Fudge with Walnuts and Dried Cranberries
4 cups vanilla or white chocolate chips
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sifted confectioners sugar
6 oz. cream cheese
1 cup vanilla buttercream (store-bought or make your own)
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts
1 ½ cups dried cranberry
1 tablespoon orange zest
Lightly grease an 8” x 8” baking pan.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the chips with the butter.
On the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the sugar, the cream cheese and the buttercream until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Blend in the melted chips. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour into the prepared pan. Refrigerate for 1 hour (or more) before cutting and serving.
The honest truth:
- I prefer to use a longer pan so the fudge is not so thick (9” x 13” works well)
- If you want to cut the fudge into shapes it helps to run a knife around the edge of the cookie cutter to get through the walnuts and cranberries.
- Store bought frosting works best for this recipe – it’s fast and is whiter than most homemade buttercreams.
Red Velvet Cake
¼ cup red food coloring
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For a layered cake, grease and lightly flour three 9”x 2” round cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper. For cupcakes, fill a cupcake pan with white cupcake liners (so the red shows through).
In a small bowl, whisk together until well combined the food coloring, cocoa powder and vanilla. Set aside.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Add the flour in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Add in the salt. Beat in the cocoa mixture until thoroughly incorporated.
In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter at the end, making sure to mix well.
For a layered cake: Divide the batter among prepared pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cake cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack. When the cake has cooled, ice between the layers, then ice top and sides of cake.
For cupcakes: Fill cups about 2/3 full. Bake 12-15 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the pans and ice the tops once the cake is completely cool.
The honest truth:
- If you don’t have buttermilk (or can’t find it easily, like in New York City), you can make your own. Add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to one cup of milk. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes before adding it the recipe.
- This recipe calls for using “Red Velvet Icing” from the book, but I prefer the cream cheese frosting (which is how they make it in the store).
Cream Cheese Icing
1 pound (2 – 8oz. packages) cream cheese, softened slightly, cut into small pieces
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened slightly, cut into small pieces
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
5 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
In a medium bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract. Gradually add the sugar and beat until well incorporated.
The honest truth:
- I make a half recipe when frosting cupcakes.
- Add the sugar slowly and taste along the way. I like the frosting with less confectioners’ sugar than called for (approx 4 cups instead of 5).
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