Red Velvet Cupcakes

For the Cake:
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup of chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 (12 tin cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers (or you can lightly butter and flour three cake pans for a layered cake such as the one I made)

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In a large bowl, gently beat the vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs, red food coloring, vinegar and vanilla extract with an electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter among the cupcake tins, about 2/3 filled (or evenly in the cake pans). Bake in the oven for 20-22 minutes (or 35-40 minutes if using cake pans), turning the pans once, halfway through. Test the cupcakes (cakes) for doneness using a toothpick. It is done when the toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely before frosting

For the Frosting:
In a large mixing bowl, beat with cream cheese, butter and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar on low, 1 cup at a time, and beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until light and fluffy.
If using pecans, fold them into frosting when the cupcakes (cake) are cooled, spread the frosting using a metal spatula.

from Paula Deen,