I know they don’t look that appetizing, but these red velvet cupcakes in a jar are sure delish. It’s surprising that they use as little cocoa powder as they do, because the cake itself has a really moist, rich, chocolatey flavor. It came out even better than I thought, actually, considering I tweaked the recipe a bit (don’t kill me, Martha). And you can take them on picnics, too. That’s pretty awesome.
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup hot (but not boiling) water
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons white vinegar
For the frosting:
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter cupcake rounds; dust with cocoa, tapping out excess. Set aside. Whisk together flour, salt, and cocoa in a medium bowl; set aside.
Mix sugar and oil on medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk until combined. Add eggs one at a time; mix well after each addition. Mix in food coloring and vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with flour, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
Stir together baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl. Add baking-soda mixture to batter, and mix on medium speed 10 seconds. Mix in the hot water until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, 18 to 23 minutes. Let cool completely in pans on wire racks. Using your fingers, take one cupcake and crumble it into tiny crumbs to be used as a garnish for later. Set aside.
While the cakes are baking, prepare the frosting. In a large bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, mix together the softened cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract. Add the confectioner’s sugar in batches until the frosting comes together and there are no lumps. Let cool in a refrigerator until the cakes are ready to frost.
Use 12 or 16 ounce mason jars to can the cupcakes. Start by cutting each cupcake in half width-wise. Spoon a teaspoon of frosting into the bottom of the jar to act as glue to prevent the cupcakes from moving around. Position your first cupcake half on the bottom of the jar. Now, using a 3 ounce scoop, put a rounded scoop of frosting on top of your cake half. Add the second layer of cake, continuing with a second rounded scoop of frosting on top. Depending on the size of your jar, you can add a third cupcake layer, followed by a third scoop of frosting. On the top of each jar sprinkle a small bit of cupcake crumbs from the cupcake you set aside earlier. Top with a jar cover and take to go, or keep it cover-less and eat immediately! Can be stored air-tight for up to 3 days.
Cake recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Wedding Cakes