If you’re going to make these cupcakes right away, preheat oven to 350 degrees F., rack in the middle position.
Hannah’s Note: To make these cupcakes, you must first make Chocolate Apricot Surprises. Don’t worry . They’ll only take you 15 minutes at the most. If you’d prefer to make them at night and not bake the cupcakes until morning, preheat the oven at that time.
CHOCOLATE APRICOT SURPRISES
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (that’s one cup of chips)
2 Tablespoons apricot jam
2 Tablespoons salted butter
If the apricot jam has big pieces of apricots, cut them into smaller pieces before you measure out the jam.
You can also simply pick them out and only use the clear part of the jam.
Place the 3 ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. (I used a 2-cup measuring cup.)
Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute.
Take the chocolate mixture out of the microwave and stir the contents smooth.
Tear off a piece of waxed paper and place it on a piece of cardboard or a cookie sheet right next to the chocolate mixture.
Use a quarter-teaspoon measuring spoon to scoop out the chocolate mixture.
Scrape it out of the spoon with your impeccably clean finger and drop it onto the waxed paper in little mounds.
If it spreads out too much and won’t mound, let it cool for a minute or two longer.
Once you start making the chocolate mounds, keep in mind that you will need 24 Chocolate Apricot Surprises for your cupcakes .
If you end up with less, pinch a little off the larger mounds and transfer it to the smaller mounds.
If you end up with too much chocolate left, either make the existing mounds bigger, or make several mounds on a different piece of wax paper and hide them in a small container in the back of your refrigerator for the times you have a chocolate deficiency.
Refrigerate the Chocolate Apricot Surprises until you’re ready to use them in your cupcakes.
(You can make them the night before you make your cupcakes, but only if you live alone. If you have a family, someone is bound to get up in the middle of the night to eat them.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F., rack in the middle position.
1 and ½ cups white (granulated) sugar
½ cup salted butter (1 stick, 4 ounces, ¼ pound) softened to room temperature
½ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoons red food color gel (if you can’t find gel, you can use liquid food coloring, but gel is best— I used Betty Crocker Classic Gel Food Colors)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 and ½ cups all-purpose flour (pack it down in the cup when you measure it)
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (or white vinegar if you can’t find red wine vinegar)
Line 24 cupcake cups with cupcake papers . (My cupcake pans hold 12 apiece so I used 2 cupcake pans. I also used double cupcake papers in each cup.)
WARNING ABOUT FOOD COLOR GEL: Make sure you don’t buy red decorating gel instead of red food color gel. The decorating gel comes in individual tubes and is used to write on the top of cakes in various colors of gel frosting. You need to buy the concentrated food color gel that will color your cupcake batter red. If you can’t find food color gel, you can use liquid food coloring, but you’ll have to use double the amount.
Place the white sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.
Add the softened, salted butter and vegetable oil.
Beat until the resulting mixture is nice and fluffy.
Mix in the salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa powder.
Mix it in thoroughly.
Add the 2 teaspoons of red food color gel and the vanilla extract.
Beat until the color is mixed in evenly.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
Add one cup of flour to your bowl and mix it in thoroughly.
Then shut off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Pour in a half -cup of buttermilk and mix that in thoroughly on LOW speed.
Add a second cup of flour to your bowl.
Mix it in thoroughly and then shut off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
Add the rest of the buttermilk (½ cup) to your bowl.
Mix in the rest of the flour (½ cup) and mix thoroughly.
Mix in the red wine vinegar.
Shut off the mixer, remove the bowl, and give your cupcake batter a final scrape and stir with the rubber spatula.
The vinegar may make your batter foam up a bit. That’s perfectly all right.
Fill the cupcake papers full of batter. (Lisa and I used a 2-Tablespoon scoop to do this at The Cookie Jar.)
Take the Chocolate Apricot Surprises you made out of the refrigerator.
Peel them off the waxed paper one by one , and put them in the center of each cupcake.
Push them down slightly , but be careful not to push them all the way to the bottom of the cupcakes!
Fill the cupcake papers with batter until they’re ¾ full.
These cupcakes don’t rise very much so you don’t have to worry about them overflowing.
Bake the Red Velvet Surprise Cupcakes in a preheated 350 degrees F. oven for 20 to 23 minutes. (Mine took 21 minutes.)
Take the cupcake pans out of the oven and let them cool completely on a cold stove burner or a wire rack.
Do not remove the cupcakes from the pan until they are completely cool.
Yield: 24 cupcakes
Ice with Cream Cheese Frosting for Red Velvet Surprise Cupcakes.
Fluke, Joanne (2014-01-28). Red Velvet Cupcake Murder (A Hannah Swensen Mystery) (pp. 19-24). Kensington. Kindle Edition.