Sarah’s EZ Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Sarah’s EZ Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Red Velvet cupcakes always a hit without hitting you too hard in the pocketbook.  I start with Duncan Hines red velvet cake mix (I just want to save my red food color for icings) which is super red through and through.  I use this recipe mostly for red velvet cupcakes, works everytime….and no sweat, mix few ingredients and you got a red thick batter in a flash.

1 box Duncan Hines red velvet cake mix
3 large eggs
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted (use only butter, no substitute)
2 tablespoons dried buttermilk powder (optional)
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well-combined.  Scoop or ladle in paperlined muffin tins (about 2/3 full).  Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until done.  Let cool completely.  Frost with store-bought cream cheese icing (not same as you prepared frosting from scratch — but good enough).

ready to travel!



Crazy for Cake Pops (Book Review)…what a treat!

Judging from cake pops after cake pops served in all the parties I attended during the holiday season, there really is a surge of interest in making these cake pops…it’s no doubt a “Crazy for Cake Pops”  victory in the category of mini desserts.

So let’s talk cake pops then!  Some like it (it’s cute indeed!), other hate it (it’s messy!).  I was sent a copy of Molly Bakes “Crazy for Cake Pops”, thanks Beth Cook and Ulysses Press…with this special introductory…

“…hitting shelves is “Crazy for Cake Pops” – a crafty cookbook that teaches you how to make the cutest one-bite snacks on a stick. Game Night Poker Chips and Dice, Birthday Party Clowns, Baby Shower Rattles…this book covers any and every occasion that calls for cake pops!”

I love making tall layered-cakes — bake the cake in large baking pans, frost it, and it’s done.   Mini cakes, on the other hand, require more of any baker’s attention — it’s making more cakes than one, seriously.  Would I really want to do these cute little things now?   Well, I found myself flipping through the pages of the book and I was enjoying the delightful creations.  From cake to cake balls to cake pops in 50 ways…wow, I could possibly add 50 more!

I promised Beth I’d start with the basics…I know much about cakes, but not cake pops.      Molly Bakes (I’m starting to be envious of author’s last name!) assures that once you get the hang of making cake pops, they are simple to make.   Molly enumerates these 10 basic steps:

1)   Bake a cake and allow to cool
2)   Make the frosting
3)   Thoroughly crumble the cake
4)   Combine the cake and frosting and refrigerate
5)   Roll mixture into balls and refrigerate
6)   Insert sticks into the balls
7)   Dip cake pops in candy
8)   Decorate
9)   Package and give as a gift or
10) Eat

There are five important chapters in the book :  Equipment (candy melts and lollipop sticks: gotta have them),  Flavors (tried and tested recipes, including Red Velvet Cake), Method (the most essential part of the book; it even tells you why it is better to crumble the cake by hand), Designs (from simple cake pops and balls to tricolor pops to fat bird pops to sushi creations) and Techniques (using fondant decorations  and also packaging and presentation.   I was tempted to do something elaborate like bauble pops (it was just a thought!).   For now, I just needed to acquaint myself with how cake balls are formed and then dipped in melted candy melts.   Now it’s time to have fun with cake balls!

Bake The Cake and then Crumble It
I baked my cake in a 13 x 9 Pam-sprayed and parchment lined baking pan using Duncan Hines’ Red Velvet Cake Mix.  Followed the baking instructions at the back of the box.  Cooled the cake and trimmed the crusts (to avoid any lumps, Molly says).   Crumbled cake pieces in a large mixing bowl, yes, by hand.

Incorporate the Frosting
Cream cheese frosting pairs well with red velvet cake…again I just used store-bought cream cheese frosting this time (shortcuts allowed I hope for my cake pops beginners’ course).  This was the messy part, so I got that taken cared of…I used plastic gloves (buy a box from Sam’s Club).   I used only 1 cup of the frosting…not the whole container (I’ve seen recipes using the entire jar of frosting).   Wrapped the bowl with plastic wrap and transferred to fridge to chill for 1 hour.

Roll the Balls
I used medium scooper (levelled) for the cake balls, rolled and shaped the mixture into rounded balls with fingers and palms.  Placed balls on a tray lined with parchment paper.  This time, I placed the cake balls in the freezer (stayed there overnight, I was too tired to continue).

Dip balls in melted candy or chocolate
I placed candy melts in a 2-cups liquid measuring cup, half filled.  Zapped in microwave for 1 minute.  Add 1  to 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil (yes, Molly uses only vegetable oil to make candy melts easier to work with, meaning thin enough to coat around cake balls).  Vigorously stirred the heated candy melts for a smooth dip.  I used 2 forks to coat the cake balls with candy melts.  Here the pace changed from being slow and careful as not to damage the cake balls while coating…to really quickly transfer coated cake balls to parchment line tray and shake some sprinkles using a teaspoon.

Here’s the press release of Molly’s wonderful book…the overall look of the book is well laid out and the  lovely photos inside and out are all stunning.  So I’d say, or rather recommend…”Gotta have it!”


EZ-breezy Red Velvet Custard Cake

This cake can be included in “much-loved desserts” — I always get the sweetest compliments everytime I bring this cake to a party.  And I’m making this again for my family’s thanksgiving dinner…it is velvety rich and really a sweet way to end the important meal of the year.

We approach this cake differently back home.   We make it with chiffon-type cake, a bit of a challenge for inexperienced bakers and with more attention given to folding beaten egg whites to cake batter and ensure volume doesn’t get deflated.

And no frosting needed — it’s a breeze to make.  Use any boxed cake mix of your choice.   But I just love the color of red and Duncan Hines just made it even easier by filling our store shelves with boxes of red velvet cake mixes.    Experiment with different mixes and flavors — devil’s food cake mix and leftover brewed coffee, pumpkin cake mix with eggnog, butter cake mix with mango or peach nectar, etc.

Start preparing the caramel syrup using a small saucepan.   Melt sugar until it turns into golden brown syrup.  Stand back and slowly add water, and this causes sugar to crystallize and turn into a solid mass.  Keep cooking until mixture returns to liquid state.  Add light corn syrup and cook until it resembles a thick syrup, not runny, not too thick.  You will need to coat the bottom of well-greased bundt pan with this syrup, so it is important that syrup is just thick enough to slide while tilting the bundt pan.

Next is the flan base — if you choose using all egg yolks, the flan is a bit dense.  I find adding some whole eggs producing a much lighter flan.   Just simply whisk all ingredients until well-blended.  In this recipe, the goal is not to have a baked flan with a really smooth texture.

Then comes the part we wouldn’t really be so concerned with — prepare cake following instructions at the back of the box, easy and overmixing is least of your worry here.    Slowly spoon the cake batter to flan base and set the bundt pan in baine marie (bundt pan sitting on top of a larger pan filled with hot water).   Normal test for doneness using toothpick — if it comes out clean, it is done.

It is easy, it is breezy.  Now after some hours of cooling, unmold the cake (don’t forget to say a prayer to some Gods and Goddesses) and behold…Red Velvet Custard Cake.

Here’s the recipe:


Caramel Syrup:  1 cup sugar, caramelized    3/4 cup water    1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Custard or Flan:
3 large eggs  2 egg yolks   1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 tall can evaporated milk   splash of flavoring (lemon, vanilla, buco pandan, mango, etc)

Cake:    1 box Red Velvet cake mix   water, oil and eggs as directed on back of the cake mix box

Prepare cake pan (bundt pan is used in this recipe);  spray bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Caramel Syrup:  Caramelize sugar (sugar melts and turns into golden brown syrup) in a small saucepan over medium high heat.   Slowly add water and continue boiling until mixture turns to liquid again.  Add corn syrup and continue cooking until thick and syrupy.   Pour into prepared pan, tilting pan to evenly coat the bottom and 1 inch up sides.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Prepare custard/flan:  Whisk all flan ingredients until smooth.  Slowly  pour the custard into the bundt pan.

Prepare cake according to instructions in the box and slowly spoon over custard layer.   Bake for 70 or 75 minutes  in baine marie (cake pan placed in a larger pan filled with hot water).   Cake is done when a wooden skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Let cake cool and refrigerate for a couple of hours.  Unmold cake over a serving platter and enjoy!