Looking for a way to woo your Valentine? Nothing says L-O-V-E like Red Velvet! (Well, at least in my house.)
One of Matt’s favorite desserts has always been Red Velvet cake. Red Velvet just looks so beautiful, and it’s the kind of cake in which I just leave a fork in the pan so I can sneak a bite every time I’m in the kitchen. (Yes, I do this.) But since discovering the benefits of eating real foods and eliminating toxins from our systems, I was less than thrilled to make it for him.
I knew there had to be alternatives to the fake red food coloring in the cake and the massive amounts of refined powdered sugar that went into the cream cheese frosting. Desserts are my passion, so I was determined to make this cake worthy of our real food lifestyle. After a few failed batches of cake and frosting, I can now make Matt his favorite dessert without feeling like I’m poisoning him.
The answer was natural red food coloring and unrefined sugars for the cake part, then a natural sweetener like maple syrup for the delicious cream cheese frosting. I opted for cupcakes instead of one big giant cake because they’re easier to share, no cutting is involved, and they’re just plain cute. This is a perfect red dessert for Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or any other occasion.
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Naturally Sweetened Cream Cheese Frosting
(Makes 10-12 cupcakes)
- 1½ cups flour (we use this sprouted white wheat flour)
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (we like this brand)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (find aluminum-free baking powder here)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt (find unrefined sea salt here)
- ¾ cup coconut palm sugar or pure cane sugar (find sustainably sourced coconut palm sugar here or organic cane sugar here)
- ½ cup melted butter or coconut oil (find organic extra virgin coconut oil here)
- 2 eggs at room temperature, preferably from pasture-raised hens
- ¾ cup buttermilk at room temperature (or whole milk w/ a splash of white vinegar)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (find organic pure vanilla extract here or learn to make your own here)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 3 teaspoons natural red food coloring (we use this brand or make your own from beets)
Naturally Sweetened Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 oz. organic cream cheese
- ½ cup organic butter, preferably from pasture raised cows
- ¾ cup pure maple syrup (find it here)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (find it here or learn to make your own)
- about ¾ cup arrowroot starch or tapioca flour, for thickening (find arrowroot starch here or tapioca flour here)
- Line a muffin tin with 10-12 cupcake liners.
- Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder in a medium bowl and whisk until well blended.
- Combine sugar, butter/coconut oil, and eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add buttermilk, vanilla, lemon juice, and natural food coloring. Whisk lightly until combined.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir just until mixture comes together. Avoid over-mixing.
- Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake 15 minutes at 350°. Test with a toothpick. If toothpick does not come out clean, turn pans and bake another 3-5 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool cupcakes completely. Store in an airtight container until ready to frost and serve.
- For frosting, beat cream cheese and butter (set out to soften) in a large bowl until smooth. Add vanilla and maple syrup and beat until combined. Sift 1-2 tablespoons of arrowroot or tapioca flour over the mixture at a time, beating until smooth. Continue adding thickener in this manner until desired consistency is reached. (I also refrigerate it to stiffen it up before frosting.)
- Frost cupcakes just before serving.
Enjoy these delicious, naturally colored and sweetened treats!