Terri Wahl's Red Velvet Cupcakes

adapted from: Throwdown with Bobby Flay

3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/4 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

3 c. sugar

1 1/2 c. vegetable oil

1 1/4 c. buttermilk

3 large eggs

2 Tbl. plus 2 tsp. red food coloring

1 1/4 tsp. distilled white or apple cider vinegar

1 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tin with paper liners.  Sift the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder into a bowl and set aside.  In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the sugar, oil and buttermilk on medium speed until combined.  Add the eggs, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla and 2 Tbl. water and mix well.  Turn the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time, scraping down the sides occasionally, beating until combined.  Be sure not to overmix or the cupcakes will be tough.  

Fill the muffin cups 1/2 full (do not over fill).  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-23 minutes.  Set aside to cool completely.  Yield: about 30 cupcakes. 

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.

1 1/2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, room temp.

1 Lb. powdered sugar

1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

To make the frosting:  beat the butter and cream cheese together in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth.  Gradually add the powdered sugar, scraping the bowl down as needed.  Beat in the vanilla.  If too soft, chill briefly.  Divide the frosting among the cupcakes; then smooth with a small offset spatula.