A Colorful Chocolate Celebration Cake & Red Velvet Cupcakes

O.K.  Show of hands:  At some point during this past weekend, how many of you found yourselves singing the song from the viral wedding video that captivated America via YouTube last week?  In the event that you have been living under a boulder, please click here to catch up with the rest of us.

For me, this now infectious ditty popped into my head not once, but several times.  Absentmindedly pushing my shopping cart down the produce section, I suddenly started bobbing my head and smiling a goofy grin (which, incidentally, is a side effect of watching the celebration.)  Whether I was folding the laundry, waiting in traffic, or trying to fall asleep at night, there it was, accompanied by flashbacks of the joyous wedding party shimmying their way down the aisle.

Now why didn’t I think of that?  Oh, right. My rhythmically-challenged wedding party would have probably high-tailed it to the nearest exit if I had even hinted at such a thing. Well, my dad would have probably enjoyed it, but that’s all…

By the way–just my two-cents–I think that Chris Brown owes this couple a really nice wedding gift, or at least a phone call, for giving his music some much needed positive PR.  There, I’m done.

All of this celebratory hoopla was very well timed, as I was put in the optimal mood to create a festive 31st birthday cake, although it may have caused me to go a bit overboard with the color scheme.  The cake was to be a surprise for someone’s boyfriend, whose name is Louie (thus the Laverne-esque “L”.)  She told me that his favorite colors are gold, black, and white.  My immediate response: “Oh, so he’s a SteelersIMG_0891 fan?”  It’s a logical deduction, right?  I mean, it’s not every day that someone’s favorite color is white.  Well, turns out that he’s not a Steelers fan, which sent his girlfriend into a bit of a panic that the cake would scream Pittsburgh.  So, we decided to add red and silver into the mix.  Problem solved.

The cake itself is chocolate (see the recipe from two posts ago), Louie’s favorite flavor, but the cupcakes were his girlfriend’s favorite flavor, red velvet.  Personally, I have never caught on to the whole red velvet cake craze.  Maybe it’s the bottle of red food coloring that is added to each batch that deters me, or maybe it’s because they are traditionally served with cream cheese frosting–I don’t know.  That being said, because it is a popular flavor, I still needed to have a good red velvet recipe in my repertoire.  This one stays nice and moist, thanks to the buttermilk and oil.  Sometimes I’ll add some mini chocolate chips to the batter, which give each bite a nice extra punch of chocolate.  Here are a few helpful hints for making this cheerful chocolate cake:

  • The contrasting colors of this cake were formed by layers of fondant.  You can achieve a similar look, however, by frosting the cake with one color and draping the fondant with the letter cut-out over the frosting.  I opted for multiple fondant layers because it has a smoother look.
  • I gave the cake a shimmering effect by using edible glitter.  I brushed the surface with water and then sprinkled the glitter over the top.  I brushed the surface again to even out the glitter.
  • The silver dots are adhered to the fondant with royal icing.
  • The cookies on top of the cupcakes are just basic decorated sugar cookies.  I found the fluted shape after rummaging through my kitchen drawers and finding a mini tart pan.  It’s a great shape to use when you need to write a longer word on the cookie.
  • The cake can be baked one day in advance, but I recommend decorating the cake the day that it will be served.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Makes about 24IMG_0890


2 1/2 cups cake flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups canola or safflower oil

2 large eggs

1/4 cup red food coloring

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons white vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.  Line two 12-cup cupcake tins with cupcake liners.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and the oil; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the food coloring and the vanilla, beating until well incorporated.  Add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if necessary.

In a small bowl, stir together the baking soda and the vinegar.  Add this mixture to the batter and beat until combined.  Fill each of the cupcake liners slightly more than halfway full with the batter.  Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean, about 18 minutes.  Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pans for 5 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.  Decorate the cupcakes as desired.


  1. Anissa says

    This cake is amazing! Can you telepathically send me some of your talent? I am making a cake for Saturday and am going to try to decorate it with the Welsh Dragon with a black arm band on his leg for my best friends 50th birthday. Of course, I am using your chocolate cake recipe! :)Wish me luck, I think I will need it!!!

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