When I innocently type the letters “ma..” into Google, guess what phrase pops up as my suggested search? No, not Manhattan, Madagascar, or even Major news stories. “Martha Stewart cupcakes.” Hmm. So either Martha has topped the Google page rankings with my help and my help alone or I should be reassessing the level of intimacy in my relationship to Google. Because it seemingly knows me better than my own mother.
Once I realized Google was hip to my jive (or keeping me under tight surveillance), I took the bait and licked my way through the pages of Martha’s tiny frosted confections. Vanilla? Done it. Devil’s Food? Ate a dozen. Coconut? Shamelessly made them three times. Red Velvet? Yes, please, thank you, and g’day. You know, it may have been my delirium from not having slept during my Vegas vacation, but yesterday at 3pm, instead of unpacking, going grocery shopping, or preparing for the week ahead, I baked. Gird your loins.
I viewed these blood red beauties as a trial rather than a treat. Now, I’ve walked the red velvet carpet before and haven’t been wild about the results. And while I’ve heard so many people rave about them, I guess I just never understood the flavor of the cake- not vanilla, but not quite chocolate either. And is that slight tang that I so often detect in them pleasant? In most of my experiences with these baby reds, I’ve thought the turnout was a bit too dense, too heavy, with not enough oomph of real flavor one way or the other. Slightly bummed by the ambiguity in taste definition.
But if I know Martha like I think I do (which is technically speaking not at all), she doesn’t fail me in the cake department.
The dozen is scrumptious. Moist, faintly sweet and chocolatey. But their delicate flavor needs the balance of boldness from a proper puff of cream cheese icing. Fitting not only in its stark contrast to the red crumb of cake, but in a fact that can’t be denied: cream cheese frosting can and should be slathered atop everything edible. I’d like to spread it generously on my morning toast, slip it into my sandwich at lunchtime, dress salads with its creamy white tang. Serve a scoop next to turkey and call it mashed potatoes for all intents and purposes.
Red Velvet Cupcakes (recipe by Martha Stewart)
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Next add 1/2 of the buttermilk. Mix for a few seconds. Add another 1/3 of the flour, mix it, then pour in the remaining buttermilk. Mix. Add the last 1/3 of the flour, scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat once more to ensure that everything is well-blended. When adding the flour and liquid alternately like this, you always want to begin and end with the flour.