Red Velvet Mini-Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I was never terribly familiar with red velvet cake. I've always been a straight-up chocolate cake girl, and my family never really made it for me to compare the two. But we were hosting a Christmas party, and what better combination of colors for Christmas than a red base--and green Christmas tree-looking frosting??? (Idea for Christmas tree frosting from Pinterest; recipe for cupcakes from allrecipes). The result was amazing--this was easily the best frosting recipe I have ever tasted, and the cupcakes themselves were so flavorful and chocolate-y that I am looking for additional ways to make red velvet cake in the future. Do yourself (though maybe not your waistline) a favor, and give these a try!

You will need (for 30 cupcakes or 60 mini cupcakes):
For cupcakes:
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups flour (the latter amount will make a denser cake)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 (1 ounce) bottle McCormick® Red Food Color
2 teaspoons McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract

For vanilla cream cheese frosting:
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 teaspoons McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract
1 (16 ounce) box confectioners' sugar
*If desired: green food coloring and sprinkles

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to cream the butter and sugar together. Add in your eggs one at a time. Next, mix in sour cream, milk, food coloring, and vanilla. Finally, fold in flour mixture, making sure that batter is well-combined, but not over-mixed. Spoon into greased or lined cupcake pans so that each cup is 2/3 full.

For cupcakes, bake 20-25 minutes. For mini-cupcakes, bake 12-15 minutes. They are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or when the cakes spring back when touched.

Allow cupcakes to cool and make your frosting. First, cream together butter and cream cheese with a hand mixer. Add sour cream and vanilla. Finally, add the confectioners' sugar in batches (this will keep you from spraying sugar all over your kitchen!). If you want to make Christmas tree frosting, add about a 1/2 oz of green food coloring to the frosting and finish mixing.

To decorate, use a piping bag or ziploc bag with the tip cut off to create a tree-shaped mound of frosting on top of each cupcake. Top with round sprinkles and a star-sprinkle on top for a delicious Christmas dessert!

As you can see, these mini cupcakes make a great addition to any holiday spread--I know I had more than a couple at our party. So give them a try, and I hope that you and your guests enjoy them. Happy holidays!

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