Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reddish Velvet Beet Cupcakes with Bourbon Cream Cheese Icing

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.


  1. awesome! you look good up there :)

  2. That EXACT thing this has happened to me, haha. But I truly love the addition of bourbon in the frosting...bravo.

  3. The cupcakes look amazing, especially the icing.

  4. mmm, that icing sounds amazing. love red velvet!

  5. Rebekka and Pam, thanks for stopping by! yay for bourbon icing!

  6. These sound amazing, especially the bourbon icing.

  7. holy hell these sound amazing. kinda wish you could create our wedding spread...your creations always sound so yummy.

  8. Red cake has always seemed very dubious to me. But bourbon icing? Holy crap, that sound deeeelicious.

    Have you heard of the book Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache? (or something along those lines) by Harry Eastwood. It's a book of baking using vegetables as an ingredient and she has a VERY red red velvet cake made with beetroot. I'm itching to buy the book!

  9. a mountain bride - how sweet, thanks. maybe i'm crazy but i do think it would be fun to cater a wedding...someday i hope to try.

    Peonies - no that book sounds fantastic! i just looked and unfortunately they don't have it in my library system, might have to buy it :-)

  10. I've always thought it was such a cop out that red velvet cupcakes are only red because of food dye. I love that you tried to do it naturally. Can't wait to see how it works with deep red beets!