My friend Jamie had a big birthday last week, so we celebrated in style. She loves red velvet cupcakes (she is from the South after all), but I don't really like the idea of adding red food dye, and the natural food coloring available at Whole Foods was prohibitively expensive. I love using beets in baked goods, so I went ahead and made this version of red velvet cupcakes, minus the food coloring, and with the addition of 1/3 cup cooked and pureed beets to add natural coloring. I also added extra bourbon to the icing because it's another one of Jamie's faves (recipe below).
Well, as I've heard happens but hoped it wouldn't, the cupcakes came out a light reddish brown. The beets I used were pale pink because that's all I could find on short notice, so I'd like to experiment again using normal deep dark red beets.
So even though my creation turned out more as "Reddish" Velvet Beet Cupcakes, they were still tasty, especially because of the Bourbon Cream Cheese Icing, which was a big hit with my coworkers and Jamie. Luckily I ended up with leftover icing, a perfect excuse to make another batch of cupcakes - cinnamon-spiced flecked with diced apples and pears - this week to use up that sugary creamy goodness.
Later on for the birthday girl's big night out, we went to Mason Dixon in the LES for bourbon and bull-riding! I don't normally like going out in Manhattan, but the bartenders there were supernice. I wonder why? Maybe it's their way of bringing Southern hospitality to New York? Oh yeah and after much insisting from Jamie, I rode a mechanical bull ;-)
Bourbon Cream Cheese Icing
5 tbsp butter
1 package cream cheese (8 oz)
roughly 3/4 of a box of Dominos Confectioners Sugar
1 tsp milk
1 tbsp vanilla bean-infused bourbon (or 1 tsp vanilla and 2 tsp bourbon)
Let butter and cream cheese soften after taking out of the fridge. Cream together with a fork, then combine with remaining ingredients until smooth. Adjust ingredients to taste (ie, add more vanilla bourbon if too dry, add more sugar if too wet). Makes enough icing for approximately 24 cupcakes, depending on how much icing you use to top off each cupcake.