Red Velvet Pomegranate Jelly Cupcakes

From 6 Bittersweets
Makes 12 cupcakes

XIAOLU'S NOTES: I made Sherlock paper cupcake toppers inspired by this sticker design by Melissa Erickson. Feel free to make these cupcakes with or without the Sherlock toppers =p. If you want to download Sherlock toppers for your personal, private use, open THIS PAGE then PRESS Ctrl+S to download my free PDF printable. To make the toppers, print the PDF using the size option "Fit" on card stock, cut out the circular toppers using a 2-inch circle punch OR by hand using scissors, and finally tape a 4-inch paper lollipop stick to the back of each circle. 
Pomegranate jelly needs time to cool/set after being made, so plan to make it at least a day before using. 

6 Bittersweets' Best Red Velvet Cupcakes (Recipe below)
1/2 to 3/4 cup Pomegranate Jelly (Recipe below OR store-bought is fine)
Cream Cheese Miracle Frosting (Recipe below)
Sherlock-themed Cupcake Toppers (optional)

Once cupcakes have cooled to room temperature, heat pomegranate jelly in the microwave at 5-second intervals until it has softened enough to pipe. (Be careful not to overheat the jelly or it will become too liquid and run out of the bag uncontrollably.) Transfer jelly to a piping bag fitted with a long pointed tip OR a squeeze bottle. Insert tip into each cupcake and squeeze out a small amount of jelly into the cupcake. (You'll know the cupcake is filled to capacity when its top starts to lift slightly. You should immediately stop squeezing that that point or the jelly will start flowing up out of the cupcake.)

Spread or pipe frosting on to cupcakes (I used Ateco #808 - a large plain round piping tip), then insert the paper toppers down the middle of each cupcake. Enjoy and I hope you'll watch BBC's fantastic Sherlock series on PBS!

6 Bittersweets' Best Red Velvet Cupcakes 
Makes 12 cupcakes

XIAOLU’S NOTES: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can use the following substitution. For this recipe, use 1 1/2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with enough milk added to total 1/2 cup PLUS 1 tablespoon. Stir well and let sit for at least 5 minutes before using. Do NOT substitute the cake flour in this recipe.

1 cup (4 oz.) cake flour [stirred, spooned, and leveled to measure]
1/4 cup (1.12 oz.) all purpose flour [stirred, spooned, and leveled to measure]
1 1/2 Tbsp (0.32 oz.) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
Slightly rounded 1/2 tsp baking soda
Scant 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 Tbsp red GEL food coloring [I use Wilton No-Taste but you may need more or less depending on brand]
1/2 cup PLUS 1 Tbsp buttermilk, room temperature
3 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
2 Tbsp mayonnaise (NOT fat-free or olive oil; low-fat is fine)
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Miracle Frosting (Recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the top of a standard 12-cup muffin pan (in case you get some “muffin top” action). Line pan with 12 baking liners.

Sift the flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar into a large bowl; stir to ensure even distribution and set aside. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the melted butter and gel coloring until blended. Then add the buttermilk, oil, mayonnaise, egg, vinegar, and vanilla until well combined. Now add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until the batter is mostly smooth (no more than 2 minutes and small lumps are fine).

Distribute batter evenly among baking cups, filling each about 2/3 full. When finished, slam the pan evenly and firmly downward from 2 inches above the counter to force out any large bubbles. Bake for 16 to 23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven right away, let cool for 2 minutes, then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling. Let cool completely before frosting.


Pomegranate Jelly 

Makes 3 to 3 1/2 cups

XIAOLU'S NOTES: I used bottled pomegranate juice, but follow these directions to make your own.

2 1/4 cups pomegranate juice [bottled OR fresh]
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 package powdered pectin
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 to 4 eight-ounce canning jars OR other sized jars with equivalent total volume

Prepare canning jars. Submerge clean, empty canning jars in boiling water for several minutes. Boil a few cups of water in a separate kettle and pour over lids in a small bowl to sterilize. Add pomegranate juice and lemon juice to a saucepan with at least 3 quart capacity. Add pectin, stir well, and cook over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Reach a full rolling boil (one that can't be stirred down), add sugar, and stir well. Boil hard for exactly 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand for a minute and skim off foam.

Fill jars to 1/2-inch of the top. Wipe rims with a clean towel. Screw on 2-piece lids.

Finish canning IF you plan to keep the jelly unrefrigerated. Place the filled jars, not touching, on a rack in a tall pot of boiling water. Water should cover tops of the jars by at least an inch. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove from the water. Let jars cool. Check seals, the lids should be sucked down (you'll hear a popping noise as the jelly cools). Once the jars reach room temperature, put them in the refrigerator for a few hours to complete the gelling. Each jar of jelly will last about 3 weeks once opened.

Cream Cheese Miracle Frosting
Adapted from Treats
Makes about 2 1/2 cups (enough to frost 12 cupcakes)

3/4 cup MINUS 1 to 2 Tbsp sugar 
2 Tbsp all purpose flour 
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch 
Pinch of salt 
3/4 cup whole milk 
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract 
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into 8 pieces
3/4 cup (6 oz.) cream cheese, cool room temperature and cut into 6 pieces 

Combine sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl. Slowly whisk in milk until smooth. Pour mixture through a strainer into a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture boils and is very thick, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer milk mixture to clean bowl and cool to just below room temperature, about 2 hours (you can speed this up by popping the bowl into the fridge).

With a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or electric handheld mixer, beat cooled milk mixture (about 313 grams) and vanilla on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium, and add butter piecesone at a time followed by cream cheese pieces one at a time, beating well after each addition (about 8 seconds between each addition). Increase speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.