Blue Velvet Cupcakes with Easy Vanilla Buttercream

I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t we just do red velvet on Wednesday?? Yes, yes we did. And to be honest, I had zero intention of sharing these blue velvet cupcakes today. They were a last minute, “I have a free hour and it’s 90 degrees out, so why not turn on the oven and bake” project yesterday. It was supposed to be just for fun – no photos, no blog post, etc. But we loved these cupcakes so much I couldn’t not post them.

Blue Velvet Cupcakes with Easy Vanilla Buttercream

This is probably the 3rd or 4th red velvet recipe I’ve tried and it is by far my favorite; I almost feel like I need to go back to all the previous red velvet posts (with the exception of the cobbler) and say no, seriously, just go and make this recipe instead :) It’s originally from Saveur, but I came across it via Bridget’s awesome red velvet comparison post. If you’re not familiar with her comparison posts, they’re seriously the best – her scientific approach to contrasting similar recipes is right up my alley!

Blue Velvet Cupcakes with Easy Vanilla Buttercream

Ok, so the cupcakes. I think either you’re a red velvet person or you’re not. It’s not chocolate cake despite the presence of cocoa powder in the recipe and for the longest time I kept wondering exactly what the appeal was. It took me a while to warm up to the idea but now I’m (obviously) obsessed. These cupcake are incredibly moist and fluffy, very tangy yet still sweet too. They’re crazy simple too – just mix the wet in one bowl, the dry in the other and then combine. No mixer required! I quartered the recipe below (I had a random half egg in my fridge to use up), which yielded 5 cupcakes and Shane and I ate the entire batch within 4 hours of them coming out of the oven. That’s a pretty rousing endorsement, right?!

Oh, and while cream cheese frosting is the classic pairing with red velvet (or blue in this case), Shane’s not a huge fan so I did a simple vanilla buttercream instead. If you want to do cream cheese frosting, this recipe from Martha Stewart is my go-to. Delicious and it pipes beautifully!

Blue Velvet Cupcakes with Easy Vanilla Buttercream

I’ve been calling these red velvet cupcakes through the post, but as you can clearly see, they’re blue and not red. It was the 4th of July, I figured why not switch it up a bit. To achieve the vibrant blue color I followed these tips from Heather at Sprinkle Bakes. Her method calls for blue and violet gel food coloring, and I thought the resulting color was fantastic! Yes, it’s a lot of food coloring and I don’t necessarily advocate eating these every week, but every once in a while you just have to. And while we’re talking about the food coloring, just a warning – eating these cupcakes did temporarily turn our mouths blue (just our tongues, not teeth or lips).

Next time you’re looking for a red (or blue!) velvet recipe to try, make it this one. It really is the best :) I already warned Shane I might have to make another batch before this weekend is up. Because calories don’t count on long holiday weekends, right?

Blue Velvet Cupcakes with Easy Vanilla Buttercream

Blue Velvet Cupcakes with Easy Vanilla Buttercream
cupcakes adapted from Saveur (via The Crumbly Cookie), buttercream adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

{Note: if you’d rather do red velvet, just eliminate the blue and violet food coloring, and instead use 2 tablespoons of red liquid food coloring.}

Cupcakes
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tablespoon Wilton dark blue gel food coloring
1 tiny dab Wilton violet gel food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar

Buttercream
20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (10 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar. Whisk vigorously until well combined and smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared liners, filling each about 2/3 to 3/4-full. Bake for 17-19 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed with your fingertip and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool for a few minutes then remove them from the pans to cool completely.

To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add the confectioners’ sugar and salt, and beat at medium low to start incorporating the sugar (the mixture may become crumbly), then increase the speed to medium and beat until fully combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla and heavy cream, and beat on medium speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat for about 4 minutes, or until the mixture is very light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary.

Makes about 16-20 cupcakes