A Valentine's Treat

I work with a lot of great people.  We all have a profession that is at times stressful and at other times so much fun.  I have the great fortune to be the director of these caring and compassionate medical professionals.   All of them are truly wonderful, and I thought that it would be a great idea to make my friends from work a very special, homemade treat in honor of Valentine's Day.  I decided to make everyone a little goodie box with cupcakes--Red Velvet and Wedding Cake.  These are definitely our favorites around the work place.  We sometimes get delicious, "super expensive" cupcakes from a few of the specialty cupcake stores around town.  

I found these cute little boxes and cups at a local craft store.  I think that they are precious.

I actually went a little overboard with the cupcakes and made a few extra, a few dozen extra to be exact. The recipe that I used for the Wedding Cake cupcakes was for three times as many as I needed.  I really wasn't paying close attention to the ingredient lists and just kept adding.  Oh well, at least I got to freeze two dozen cupcakes, which I never get to do (my husband has a sweet tooth and even he thought I made too many!).  Also, thanks Paige (my daughter) for helping me decorate 4 dozen cupcakes!!! ( I am so lucky that she takes culinary classes!!!)

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

For the cupcakes:
1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/3 cups cake flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

For the icing:
1/2 cup of butter or 1 stick, room temperature
8 ounces of cream cheese or 1 package, room temperature
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl mixer for 3 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated.  Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla extract, and red food coloring.
Add a fourth of the dry ingredients and mix, then add a third of the wet.  Continue adding in a dry, wet, dry pattern, ending with the dry ingredients.
Scoop into cupcake papers, about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full.  I used one scoop (3 tablespoons approximately).  

Bake 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool for one minute in the pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Makes approximately 2 dozen cupcakes. 

To make the icing--Cream the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing.  Add the vanilla extract and mix.  Add the powdered sugar, continually taste to get desired sweetness.  Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.  

Wedding Cake Cupcakes with Almond Buttercream Icing

For the cupcakes:
1 18.25-ounce box of white cake mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sour cream
4 large egg whites

For the icing:
1 cup shortening
1 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place all the dry ingredients in a very large mixing bowl and stir together with a wire whisk.  Add the remaining ingredients and beat on medium speech for two minutes. (You may have to stir ingredients a little with the whisk prior to mixing due to amount.)  Fill cups 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full.  Batter will be very runny.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool for one minute in the pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  *This recipe makes about 3 dozen cupcakes. 

To make the icing--Whip the shortening and softened butter in a mixing bowl until completely blended.  Slowly add powdered sugar until all is blended in for a smooth frosting.  Add in the almond extract.  Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.  Add sprinkles if desired.  

* You can easily double this recipe.  Just make sure to only add 3/4 cup vegetable oil to doubled recipe instead of 1 cup.  

Enjoy and have a wonderful Valentine's Day!!

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