As of late, I’ve been bribing people with cupcakes. Red velvet cupcakes. And as you would imagine, people are much more susceptible to bribes if they include scarlet-red food coloring and copious amounts of cream cheese frosting.
I’m an editor for my college literary magazine this year, and as we are little, and modest, and frighteningly easy to not know about, we set up a booth at a one “Involvement Fair” being held on campus. I’ve come to learn that it’s essentially the hub of student-organization chaos, a blur of fliers being thrown at you, fraternity pens, and melodramatic lines like “do you care about stuff that matters?” being preached, in attempt to garner email addresses, and supposedly people who care about stuff that matters.
It’s a strange event, really, the kind of event I usually survive by fixing my gaze intently on the floor tiles in front of me. And at first, in the interest of full disclosure, I found the experience of being on the other side, behind a booth, a bit degrading. It was on the line between being like the awkward saleslady at the mall kiosk asking you if you knew anything about hair extensions, and feeling like the unwanted solicitor who calls right around dinnertime, asking for just a few minutes of your time for a 250 question survey.
So, in order to get around that, we baked cupcakes. Lots of them. All that was required of us, every once in a while, was asking if someone would like a free cupcake, and when they did, as they inevitably would, we would shamelessly and unabashedly plug our lit journal. But they owed it to us to listen. We had given them cupcakes, after all.
So that’s that. If you’re ever needing to man a booth, though I hope you’re not, words to live by: if you bake, they will come. And you even get to eat one or two while you’re frosting them, a little reward for your looming saleslady-like degradation.
Oh, right, I almost forgot: if you’re a Uconn student, and you write at all (or are an artist?!), then submit, submit, submit!! (Sorry, I had to.)
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, Bribe-Style
(Adapted from epicurious)
3 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
4 tablespoons red food coloring
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
For Frosting: Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in vanilla extract, then add powdered sugar and beat until it is all incorporated.
For CakeCups: Preheat oven to 350°F. Stick your cupcake liners into two cupcake pans; the recipe makes about 24.
In a small bowl, sift the cake flour. In a larger bowl, or in the bowl of your snazzy stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. In yet another small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.
In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but be careful not to overdo it. Stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda in a separate bowl, and add to the batter, mixing well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides and make sure everything is mixed well.
Divide the batter among the cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool, first in the pans, then on a wire rack. Frost, copiously, and bribe away!