PW's Red Velvet Cupcakes

Have I mentioned how much I love red velvet cake?

My brother and his wife had it at their wedding, which was maybe the first time I ever had it.

It took me forever to figure out what kind of cake it was - I think the food coloring messes with your mind.

I've made this cake from a few different recipes, and when I saw that Pioneer Woman included it in her cookbook, I knew I wanted to give it a try.

I made these because a couple of friends came over on Saturday night to watch the Miss America pageant. They seemed like a girly, pageanty kind of food.

I used a muffin pan that is a little too small, so there was a little spillage over the tops, but all in all these turned out really well. They're a bit lighter in texture than the Martha Stewart red velvet cupcake recipe. And since I halved the recipe, there were only 3 left over to stare at me for the next few days. The recipe I'm posting is for the full amount, though, so just know you're either making 24 good-sized cupcakes or two 10-inch round cakes.

Red Velvet Cupcakes,
adapted from Pioneer Woman Cooks

1 cup shortening (I used butter)
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups cake flour (I used all purpose)
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp vinegar
1 oz red food coloring (or two if you want a really deep red color)
1 1/2 tsp cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray two round 10-inch cake pans with non-stick baking spray (or butter and flour two muffin pans).

Blend together the shortening and sugar in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer. Set aside.

Sift together the flour and salt in another bowl, set aside.

Combine eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, baking soda, and vinegar in another, small bowl.

Add the egg mixture and the flour mixture to the sugar and butter mixture, alternating dry and wet ingredient additions. Mix after each.

In a small bowl, mix the food coloring and cocoa powder. Add them to the batter and mix. Be careful not to overbeat.

Pour the batter evenly into cake pans and bake for 25 minutes (I did about 23 min. for the cupcakes), until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10-20 minutes before removing the cake from the pan. Cool completely before icing.

This recipe calls for cream cheese icing, but since I virtually never have cream cheese on hand, I used butter cream instead.