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February 2013

Red Velvet Valentine’s Day Cupcakes

Red-velvet-cupcakes frosted (2) 

Red Velvet is popular around Christmas but in the south you will usually find it served all year long. The bright red cake and white creamy frosting make it perfect for Valentine’s Day. Americans spend around $655 million each Valentine's Day on candy, making it the fourth biggest holiday of the year for confectionery purchases, after Halloween, Christmas and Easter. But why buy candy when it’s so easy to bake up a batch up red velvet cupcakes. This is a pretty fool proof recipe and they are best frosted with Easy Vanilla Buttercream. I like to use a large start tip to pipe the frosting on, but feel free to keep simple and use a frosting spatula. Rustic techniques guarantee your Valentine will know it’s homemade.

Download Red Velvet Valentine Cupcakes recipe

Makes 24 cupcakes


Red Velvet Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted

2-4 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups canola oil

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 tablespoons red food color or 1/2 teaspoon red gel-paste food color

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners and spray papers lightly with non stick cooking spray.

2.    Whisk together cake flour, cocoa, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

3.    With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat together sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in food color and vanilla.

4.    Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed 10 seconds.

5.    Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.  Frost with Vanilla Buttercream.


Easy Vanilla Buttercream

3 tablespoons heavy cream

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

Pinch table salt 

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

3 cups confectioners' sugar 

1. Stir the cream, vanilla, and salt together in a small bowl until the salt dissolves.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds. Reduce the speed to medium-low, slowly add the confectioners' sugar, and beat until smooth, 2 to 5 minutes.

3. Beat in the cream mixture. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.(If using a hand held mixer, beat for 8-10 minutes)

4.    To finish, using a large star tipped pastry bag, pipe frosting on to cupcakes; otherwise, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature before serving. 

Red velvet batter pan 

Red velvet cupcakes baked

Rare Roast Beef with Boursin and Red Bell Pepper Appetizers

Roast Beef Bell Pepper Appetizer

Rare Roast Beef with Boursin and Red Bell Pepper Appetizers

This is one of the simplest recipes but always a crowd pleaser. Everything can be picked up at the grocery store – unless you’re in the mood to roast your own peppers – and assembled quickly at home. The recipe can easily be increased to make as many servings as your gathering requires. Trader Joes makes a great Fire Roasted Red Bell Pepper if you happen to have one nearby. 

Download Rare Roast Beef with Boursin and Red Bell Pepper Appetizers recipe


Makes 12 pieces

12 slices dark pumpernickel bread or rye cocktail bread

½ cup Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs cheese, at room temperature

6 thinly sliced piece deli rare roast beef, cut in half

½ cup jarred roasted red peppers, cut into 1/4-inch wide strips

3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or dill

Fresh ground black pepper

1. Spread each piece of bread with 2 teaspoons of Boursin cheese and place piece roast beef. Top with 3 pepper strips and sprinkle with thyme or dill and a few grinds of black pepper. Refrigerate for up to 3 hours and bring to room temperature before serving. 

Boursin 1


Rye bread1