2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows
4 cups confectioners' sugar
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup or 2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line mini cupcake or muffin pans with 48 mini cupcake liners or line regular-size cupcake or muffin pans with 24 regular cupcake liners.
In mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt. In another mixing bowl, stir together the eggs and oil. In a mixing cup, mix together the buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla extract and lightly whisk. Gradually add the dry ingredients and buttermilk mixture to the egg mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. We are trying to achieve a dark brown, red cupcake color, so add more cocoa powder, if the red is not deep enough. Then add the batter to the mini cupcake liners until they are 3/4-full and bake for 13 to 14 minutes, or until done. Alternately, fill the regular-size cupcake liners and bake 22 minutes, or until done. Let the cupcakes cool completely.
Combine the sugar, cream cheese, butter, salt, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl and blend for 2 minutes.
For the garnish pictured here, sprinkle red-colored sugar over the cupcakes, then roll-out a prepared fondant and cut out hearts or desired shape and decorate with red piping gel.
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