Step 1: Ingredients
For the cake:
• 3 1/2 cups cake flour
• 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 2 1/2 cups sugar
• 3 eggs, at room temperature
• 2 tablespoons red food coloring
• 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 cups milk
• 1 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
• 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
For the frosting:
• 12 ounces cream cheese
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
• 2 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• red sanding sugar (optional)
Step 2: The Batter
• Preheat the oven to 350°F.
• Sift the cake flour into a bowl and set aside.
• Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy - about 5 minutes.
• Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.
• Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated.
• In a small bowl, whisk together the food coloring, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.
• In a separate bowl, stir the salt into the milk. Add to the batter in three parts, alternating with the cake flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are well incorporated.
• In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. (Oooh, chemical reaction!) Add to the batter and mix well.
• Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix until the ingredients are well incorporated and the batter is smooth.
Step 3: Fill the Tins and Bake
• Using a small cookie scoop or a tablespoon, divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins - about 2/3 full.
• Bake one pan at a time on the center rack for 15 minutes.
• Test the cupcakes with a toothpick - insert a toothpick through the center of a cupcake. If it comes out clean, the cupcakes are done! If not, leave the cupcakes in the oven for another minute and toothpick test again.
• Cool cupcakes in the pan for 10 minutes.
• Remove cupcakes from the pan and cool completely on a rack.
Step 4: The Frosting
• Using an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together on medium speed until smooth.
• Add the sugar, and beat on low speed until incorporated.
• Increase the speed to medium and mix until light and fluffy.
• Frost the cupcakes using a butter knife, or pipe on frosting using a pastry bag.
Step 5: Don't Have a Pastry Bag? Make One!
• Cut the corner out of a plastic freezer storage bag. Start with a small hole - you can always make a bigger cut later.
• If you have a piping tip, insert it through the hole. If you don't have one, you can pipe out of the cut hole.
• Fill the bag with frosting.
• Push the air out of the top of the bag and seal.
• Twist the top of the bag and push the frosting down to the corner.
Step 6: Frost the Cupcakes!
• Make sure the cupcakes are completely cool before frosting.
• Holding the bag straight up and down, squeeze out about a tablespoon of frosting onto each cupcake.
• Sprinkle the top with red sanding sugar, if desired.
• Enjoy! :)