Nana's Red Velvet Cake

When I was a little girl, my grandmother made a heart shaped red velvet cake every Valentine's Day. I looked forward to helping her dump an entire bottle of red food coloring into the mixing bowl. I have carried on this tradition in my own home, but instead of making a cake, I make cupcakes -- they are easier to share and fun to decorate. This is my grandmother's recipe -- the frosting is what makes her red velvet so good. Just a note here -- the frosting is a little tricky so follow the recipe and read the entire thing before you begin.

P.S. I won't be offended if you opt for cream cheese frosting... but me... I'm sticking with Nana.

The Cake:

1 bottle red food coloring
½ cup butter (1 stick)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk (do not substitute)
2 ½ cups flour
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the sugar, butter and eggs.

In a small cup, make a paste of the cocoa and food coloring. Add this to the creamed mixture.

Add the buttermilk to the creamed mixture.

Whisk together the salt and the flour and add this to the creamed mixture one cup at a time and mix well until thoroughly combined.

In a small cup, combine the vinegar and the baking soda. Gently fold this mixture into the cake batter until incorporated.

Pour batter into 18 cupcake tins or into two 9-inch greased cake pans.

Bake cupcakes for 17 minutes. Bake the cake for 30 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick as cooking times may vary.

The Frosting:
5 teaspoons flour
1 cup half and half
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter (softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt

In a small pan over medium high heat, whisk the flour and half and half together until thick. Let cool completely before going on to the next step.
In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla. Add the cooled flour mixture and beat on medium high speed for about 5 minutes, until the mixture looks like whipped cream and is thick enough to spread. (Do not refrigerate before frosting cupcakes or it will harden.)
When frosted, top cupcakes with “Red Hots” candies.

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