Red Velvet Cupcake Dilemma

There’s a birthday coming up in our household soon. An 8th birthday. That means this weekend will include not only celebrating the 2nd grader’s birthday at school tomorrow, but also hosting a sleepover on Saturday. With all this celebrating comes lots of sweets. Olivia requested red velvet cupcakes for her classroom celebration. I had planned on taking the easy way out, and just buying the overly sweet, highly processed store-bought cupcakes at my local supermarket. Well of course they don’t sell red velvet ones, so I made my way to the baking aisle. I saw the box mix for red velvet cupcakes, and such began my internal debate. Do I cave and buy the mix and the frosting in a can, which goes against my better judgment? I mean it’s really not much better, and might actually be worse than the supermarket store-bought cupcakes. At least supermarket variety will look pretty, even if they’re not red velvet. At this point, the mommy guilty was in overdrive. My girl just wanted red velvet cupcakes, so yes I opted to make them.

Now I like to cook. I even like to bake things that come from a real recipe with real ingredients. I know there are very few (if any) natural ingredients in the red velvet box mix or the canister cream cheese frosting. You know there’s got to be about a hundred ingredients if the canister proudly says made with real cream cheese. Um, it’s CREAM CHEESE frosting.

Contains Real Cream Cheese
Contains Cream Cheese Powder

It might be hard to tell from the picture, but the real cream cheese is actually cream cheese powder. I recently produced a story about what’s really in so-called healthy fast food breakfasts, so I know the importance of reading labels. In this case however, I thought it was better not to know, and didn’t look until I snapped the photo. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, especially if you’re going to be serving this to 7 and 8 year olds.

I wish I took a picture of the red velvet batter. It looked like something out of a horror movie. It was blood red. Even though I took the easy way out this time, I’ve made a homemade red velvet cake before, and if memory serves, the cake got redder as it baked, not the other way around. I still have a bit of red on my thumb from this latest box mix experiment.

Despite my reservations with the mix, I baked up 48 red velvet cupcakes, and frosted them with the so-called cream cheese frosting. Yep, they don’t look at all store-bought, and I don’t mean that in a good way.

You can see I won’t be going on “Cupcake Wars” anytime soon. I’ll leave that to a couple of co-workers who are cupcake making queens. I’m talking about you Michelle Cabuag Lim and Gracinda Carvalho. They come up with these beautiful and tasty creations like real red velvet ones with a crazy good praline topping and delectable ‘smore cupcakes.

If nothing else, these pathetic looking cupcakes will make Olivia quite happy at school tomorrow.

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