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Christmas baking season has officially began yesterday. With the snow sprinkling down and Santa Clause parade going on outside, there cannot be a more appropriate start date! The other reason is our work’s Christmas potluck / Secret Santa gift exchange is today. It’s pretty early because it is the last day where everyone is together before people start to scatter off for vacations.

Red velvet seems to be the thing to bake during Christmas time and Valentines Day for pretty obvious reasons.  I’ve made red velvet cupcakes before but it’s a totally different recipe from this one. While I was doing my weekly Pintrest-ing I came across this amazing  blog post that compared different red velvet recipes! Since that blog pointed out the recipe from Smitten Kitchen was the best out of the ones she compared, I decided to try my luck with that one. The result? YUM! I can’t accurately compare with the ones I’ve made before because it’s been way too long. But I definitely think these are fluffier and also less sweet. Less sweet is great because it balances well with the sweet cream cheese frosting.

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Red velvet cupcakes (Recipe from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring or 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar.

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
2. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.
3. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended.
4. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla.
5. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.
6. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.
7. Fill cupcakes liners about 3/4 of the way. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Cream cheese frosting (Recipe from Smitten Kitchen)
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.

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