If you’ve ever had a red velvet cupcake then you know why it’s my fav. This Valentine’s Day, #treatyoself to red velvet beet cupcakes with no food coloring or dyes used! That beautiful red? It’s au natural, baby.
I’m not a cake girl. I’m really not a cupcake girl either. I’d much rather eat a pie (hence my wedding dessert decision), cookie or brownie than a piece of cake. However, there is one exception to this rule: red velvet cupcakes. I remember the day that I found our Georgetown Cupcakes was opening up in Boston and I remember counting down the days after that until it finally opened its doors (to ridiculously long lines that I waited in cause…cupcakes). I’m in love with their red velvet cupcakes. There’s nothing better than getting a cupcake, walking a block over to the Boston Commons with your cute, all-telling little pink box, sitting on a park bench, tearing through that black and white sticker to open up the box in all its cupcakey glory. Savoring each and every morsel of the cupcake as you watch the swan boats floating by. It’s a Boston girl’s dream…or maybe just mine.When I thought about what dessert to make for Valentine’s Day, my mind kept going to red velvet cupcakes. The lazy baker in me said noooooo, too much work. The food baby in me said please, mam I want some cupcakes (said in my best British Oliver voice). Well, the British Oliver voice won and I made red velvet cupcakes. But these are not just any cupcakes, these are food coloring and food dye FREE red velvet cupcakes! We can thank nature’s candy for the au natural coloring: BEETS. Yes, my friends, beet puree will help dye just about anything red like your countertops, your kitchen floor, your cutting board and your fingers (see exhibits A and B below). But it also dyes food – yay! So we can eat delicious, festively red cupcakes and not have to worry about ingredients that contain numbers (Red Dye #40 , I’m looking at you). I also swapped out a few ingredients to pack in a liiiiiitle more nutrition into these babies. Instead of buttermilk, I used kefir (a fermented milk beverage), swapped out vegetable oil for Greek yogurt and I replaced a little bit of cream cheese with some Greek yogurt in the frosting! The cream cheese frosting is rich and to die for. The cupcakes are light, fluffy and cocoa-y. Whip these beauties up for your sweetheart, your kiddos, yourself this Valentine’s Day and you’ll be feelin’ all the love.
For the cupcakes:
- 1–2 large or 3–4 small/medium beets, roasted*
- 3/4 cup plain kefir
- 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 eggs
For the frosting:
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
For the cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pan with paper liners and coat with baking spray.
- Place beets in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Measure out 1 cup of chopped beets and save the remaining for future use. Return one cup beets to food processor (or high-speed blender), add kefir, Greek yogurt and vanilla and process until pureed.
- In a large mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt and whisk to combine.
- In a stand mixer, or using an electric hand mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add flour mixture and beet mixture alternatively, starting and ending with flour.
- Spoon batter into prepared cups. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely on wire rack.
For the frosting:
- In a medium mixing bowl, add cream cheese, Greek yogurt and butter. Using an electric hand mixer, beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until just combined. Spread frosting evenly over cooled cupcakes.
*To roast beets: preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roast beets for 50-60 minutes, or until tender. Let cool and peel off skin.
Tell me, have you ever used beets in baking? What’s on your V-Day dessert menu?