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Red Velvet Cup Cakes with Mascarpone Butter Cream.

copyright Vaughan Adams Photography

Origin:  Our trip to New York City has come and gone and what a whirl-wind trip it was. I now have new admiration for business people who travel the world as I have always been so envious of my brother who travels internationally 2 – 3 times a month and could never understand why he finds these trips exhausting and not so much fun. I do now…..Two weeks in Boston and New York and I have no idea what Boston looks like outside of the University which was the venue  (and main reason for our visit) of this years International Conference on Food Styling and Photography.

Luckily I had booked our accommodation in the quaint, historical south end in famous Tremont Street , which is home to over 15 award winning restaurants , so our evenings, though exhausted, were spent sampling some of the incredible food this town has to offer.

As for New York – who goes to New York and does not get to go up the Empire State Building, no Central Park, or Statue of Liberty, and as for shopping in  5th Avenue…..did not get anywhere near!

I however know the inside of every cookery prop supplier, fake ‘splash’ manufacturer, and camera supplier in the city! ( This fruit is all fake and available to food stylists from Trengrove Studios NYC who supply the most amazing acrylic food items. $40 -$75 a piece though, so an entire fruit salad ends up rather expensive! Food stylists are able to buy or hire these items per day but sadly there is no hiring outlet here in South Africa so I have started my own collection by purchasing two cherries and a black currant. Some people collect Lladro’ - I, fake fruit!

The only fun outings in NYC were our photo shoots, booked at various restaurants and gourmet food trucks as we were asked to do an article for Food and Wine about the trends of ‘ Street and Suit food’ in NYC. (Look out for it on Wed 27th July 2011 in the Natal Mercury.)

These included having to hunt down the best cannoli in New York and the bakery that produced the best Red Velvet Cup Cake in the city.

Not a horrid brief at all! (Click herefor my cannoli recipe link.)

(Cup cake photography done on location in Manhattan by Vaughan Adams Photography for Food and Wine ‘s July issue. They were not fake :) and were purchased  and devoured from Cup Cake and The Two Little Red Hens. Around $3 a piece.)

Is this trendy Red Velvet Cup Cake frenzy really worth the attention it is getting?

We visited a few famous bakeries such as The Two Little Red Hens, Sugar Sweet Sunshine and Cupcake (a food truck) to try and test these delectable delights. Carlo’s Bakeryfrom Cake Boss fame unfortunately was on the opposite side of town in Holoken, and we just ran out of time to make the trip and test his cannoli’s.

The outcome………hmmmm really nothing beats a hot milk sponge cake to be totally truthful.

They are really delicious though, and I will make them time and time again as their acquired taste definitely attracts conversation attention at a tea party. They have a salty, Malva type taste. Try this recipe and let me know what you think.

(As a matter of interest many of the red velvet cup cakes we tasted in NYC were just ordinary sponge cakes with red food coloring! Once you have made the real deal you will be able to identify their definite flavor as the consistency is quite firm and not as light as a hot milk sponge.)



Red Velvet Cup Cakes with Mascarpone Butter Cream. (makes 20 – 24 cup cakes) 

350 g cake flour                                                                      5 ml baking powder

5 ml salt                                                                                    30 ml cocoa powder

250ml unsalted butter or sunflower oil                       300g castor sugar

3 eggs, separated                                                                 375ml sour cream

20 ml red food coloring                                                     10 ml vanilla essence

5 ml white wine vinegar


  1.  Pre-heat the oven to 160 oC.
  2. Using a high speed mixer, cream the butter and sugar for about 10 minutes until light and fluffy while preparing the dry ingredients.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder and set aside.
  4. Add the egg yolks one by one to the creamed butter and sugar.
  5. Now add the sour cream, food coloring, vanilla essence and vinegar. (It has a strange consistency at this point.)
  6. Remove from the mixer and using a large metal spoon fold in the sifted flour mixture one spoon at a time, incorporating as much air as possible and being careful not to over mix.
  7. Lastly whisk the egg whites, and fold into the mixture.
  8. Fill each cup cake case to ¾ . (Support the cases in a muffin tin.)
  9. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.
  10. Remove and cool before icing.

Mascarpone butter cream.

200g Mascarpone cream cheese                                                 100 g unsalted butter

30 ml boiling water                                                                           10 ml vanilla essence

400 g icing sugar                                                                               

 5 – 6 finely chopped fresh strawberries


  1.  Cream together at high speed the cream cheese, butter, icing sugar and boiling water.
  2. Add the vanilla essence. Now stir in the very finely chopped fresh strawberries.
  3. Pipe onto your Red Velvet Cup Cakes and garnish with a sprinkling of your favorite garnish such as grated chocolate,  a fresh strawberry or crystallized rose petals.
One Comment Post a comment
  1. Oh swoon – these look too gorgeous! I love the sound of that mascarpone buttercream frosting… must give it a try :)

    August 4, 2011

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