I’ve read and reread my notes. Outlined. Underlined. Circled. Starred.

I even broke out the multi-colored highlighters (that’s how you know I mean business).

And the conclusion that I come to is always the same.

Matters of the heart. Are. Complicated.

My physiology textbook would have you think otherwise. It says. Quite succinctly. The heart is a pump whose function is to distribute blood and air throughout the body.


Yet simple. Comprehensible. As. It. Should. Be.

But then when you think you finally have a grip on the whole thing? (Left atrium to left ventricle to body to right atrium to right ventricle to lungs. And then you’ve come full circle. Could anything be more satisfying?)

They start throwing terms at you. Hazy mysterious things. That seem to have no concrete meaning. (At least to you. They might mean something to a cardiologist. Or to that guy on the operating table who’s have the quadruple bypass. He probably thinks they’re pretty important.)

Stroke volume. Contractility. Ejection fraction. Total peripheral resistance.

(Now these. These sound kind of romantic. In a very HBO late night kind of way. But maybe that’s just because I have little to no idea what they actually mean.)
And yet. They don’t even begin to scrape the surface.

Which begs the question.

What about love? Where does love fit into all of this?
Is it hidden somewhere between diastole and systole? Encoded in the firing pattern that tells the SA node to either speed up or slow down its propagation of action potentials from right to left atria?

And then. Even more complex. What about unrequited love? Love that wants to be. Could be. But isn’t.

Is that somewhere in the misfires? An arrhythmia of some kind? Is that why it hurts so much – because it is a precursor to congestive heart failure. Cardiac arrest.

Take off the leads. Game. Over.
So many questions. So few answers. Except for one.

The heart is simplest. Easiest to understand. When it is sitting atop a red velvet cupcake. In the form of cream cheese frosting.

And if that isn’t love (easy, carefree, requited love) then I don’t know what is.
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 24, adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 container of neon pink food coloring
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp white distilled vinegar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

8 oz light cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
confectioner’s sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. In a bowl, mix together the cake flour, cocoa powder and salt.

3. In a separate bowl, beat the oil and sugar together with an electric mixer until well-combined. Add in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the vanilla and food coloring.

4. Add the flour mixture to the liquids in three batches, interspersing each flour batch with 1/2 cup of the buttermilk. Mix until just combined.

5. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the baking soda and vinegar (they will foam). Mix this into the batter until just combined.

6. Pour into cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

7. Let cool, in tins, on a wire rack.

8. For the frosting – let cream cheese come to room temperature. Beat with butter and vanilla until smooth. Add in the confectioner’s sugar to taste (I like mine tarter than most people). Ice the cupcakes however you so desire. I chose to make hearts but smothering frosting all over the top in a to-hell-with-it kind of way is highly recommended.

This is my entry for this month’s Have the Cake!

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at https://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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74 Responses to Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. These are so cute. I have been looking for a cute Valentine treat and thanks to you I have found it!

  2. rena says:

    So cute! I love them πŸ™‚

  3. Red velvet cupcakes look amazing especially with those hearts, very cute!

  4. Bob says:

    Oh sweetie, no. No. I’m afraid I have to send you here. You’re still the bomb though, don’t worry. I just get anal about certain things.;)

    The cupcakes look amazing though, I *love* cream cheese frosting. I find it much easier to understand than people. Heh.

  5. Elra says:

    Like you’ve said it here, “matters of the heart. Are. Complicated”. I couldn’t agree more. But, matters of beautiful red velvet cupcake like you made here, didn’t seem too complicated for you. They are gorgeous Joanne. Whoever that is for, will be very happy to receive it.

  6. Pam says:

    Pretty. Pretty. Pretty.

  7. I love red velvet cake. I was first introduced to it by the love of my life.

    Can I tell you how much I LOVE cupcakes.

  8. Kim says:

    I love the idea of red velvet cake for valentine’s day. I feel like people usually reserve red velvet for christmas, which is crazy because it is so delicious that it should be enjoyed all year long:D

    I also like the idea of piping a heart design on top, which is cute and helps to cut down on the amount of frosting (which goes straight to my hips).

  9. SE says:

    liked this idea of red velvet cup cakes for valentine day !! these look great !! I hope you are enjoying the snow !!

  10. Amy says:

    I realize I’m in the minority here, but I think V-Day is lame. Isn’t it just a way for men to redeem themselves after being lousy the other 364 days a year? I want my man to be kind ALL year long.

    Now, let’s talk about these cupcakes… ME LIKEY.

  11. Jen says:

    yay, ya did it again? I will be making mine this weekend I hope. πŸ˜‰ I love your decorations as always.
    And about Vday…I think it is way overdone. we should celebrate more than one day a year and I don’t need flowers!
    have a great one!

  12. These are so pretty πŸ™‚ I love that you didn’t just smear on frosting – which would’ve been so much easier and just as tasty. Nope – you made them pretty and I like that. πŸ™‚

  13. Cream cheese hearts I can handle! So pretty, delicious and, incomplicated πŸ˜‰

  14. Madam Chow says:

    Those look wonderful, and you just reminded me that I haven not planned anything for Valentine’s Day!

  15. hahha i love this post. partially because i’m a physci major. =D
    did you remember the order of the valves by saying” TRI(cuspid) before you BI(cuspid)!
    hmm. red velvet. such a classic cake but the red freaks me out. oh well. =(

  16. Mo Diva says:

    those are every bit as gorgeous as your heart soul and mind!

    i love your writing style!

    rock on diva!

  17. Sharon says:

    These are gorgeous! I love your post and these lovely cupcakes.

  18. Oh sure the heart on ur absolutely delight full cuppeys is far easier to cherish and understand then the more serious ‘actual’ matters of the heart….and am talking left and right ventricle here…..well for the romantic part of it …well we have our hearts and these absolutely dang cute rocking cuppy cakes….me was dressing cookies and boy i jus cant get it as good ….cant even outline a heart leave alone these…..

  19. Very gorgeous cupcakes Joann. I wanted to get in touch with you to have coffee and wasn’t able too and I apologize. I’m still here, stuck in this nasty weather. My flight is scheduled tomorrow afternoon, how I wish I could go exploring and meet up with today.

  20. Mari says:

    WOW those look GREAT! and I am sure that they tasted MUCH better than that red velvet cupcake we split over the summer ha…which was just pound cake with food coloring

  21. Julie says:

    finding a man in new york is like finding a bad and uncreative post on your blog πŸ˜‰


    i’ll take one of your cupcakes over a dude anyday

  22. I can feel the love! Give me those!

  23. Ben says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that love doesn’t exist. How unromantic of me, right? LOL, well it does exist only in food, is that better? Like, I love those cupcakes, kinda love… truly, I’d love to have one right now, it would fill my heart with joy, hehe.

  24. Jagruti says:

    hearty cakes…looks awesome and tempting..:))

  25. Debbie says:

    These are just perfect with Valentines Day coming up. They look delicious and the frosting is perfect!!!

  26. I have alwasy suspected that true love had something to do with cream cheese frosting.
    Lovely hearts! Your cupcakes are so vibrantly red. Amazing.

  27. Chef Aimee says:

    These are SO beautiful, and I can tell you that I HEART your blog so much!

  28. wow these are awesome love red velvet cakes and so cute how these look nom nom

  29. theUngourmet says:

    Love. Love. Love. your cupcakes! Nice touch with the heart icing!

  30. Love shmove, who needs it with these sweet things around. I’ll give my heart over to them before a boy, any day.

  31. Cristie says:

    Absolutely darling. Love the decoration and the rise in the cupcake is perfect. Happy Valentine’s Day.

  32. Maria says:

    I love these! Love them!

  33. teresa says:

    i just don’t think food gets much prettier than this! love it!

  34. Joanne, you are killing me here! I very rarely eat desserts but red velvet cupcakes are one of the few I can’t resist. I have a batch on my plans for this weekend, I think I’ll use your recipe if you don’t mind πŸ™‚

  35. Velva says:

    Seems like your food posts are a great study guide! You can blog and practice your physiology at the same time.

    Your red velvet cupcakes are really adorable. A perfect valentine treat.

  36. Joanne
    I thought it was interesting that most people who left comments did not comment on your intro only on the cupcakes (except the guy who said that love does not exist, only love of food!)
    Is it because the topic intimidates people and food is a lot safer to discuss?
    I think it is a cultural thing! French people would discuss it forward and backward for instance.
    Love the cupcakes too; very appropriate!

  37. Michelle says:

    Love how you frosted the cupcakes with the hand drawn hearts…very creative!

    There’s something about eating a red cupcake that appeals to me!

  38. Chef Fresco says:

    Just found your blog – adorable Valentine’s day creation!

  39. Pam says:

    They are so cute – perfect for Valentines Day.

  40. Jordan says:

    Red velvet is everywhere this time of year… but I just can’t get tired of it. These look SO GOOD!

  41. That looks gorgeous , very pretty cup cakes with yummy frosting…

  42. Kathleen says:

    I was planning on making hummingbird bakery’s red velvet cc. Yours look so great I think I’ll make these instead. I love how you frosted them!

  43. Danielle says:

    those are just too darned cute!!

  44. Simi Mathew says:

    Perfect for valentine’s day…love it


  45. Joanne says:

    Yep. I really must say I like the red velvet cupcake form of love a whole lot better. It doesn’t make me feel so much like a dummy.

  46. ruchikacooks says:

    Looks so cute, gorgeous color.

  47. Shirley says:

    You managed to decorate them so well. It’s the first time I’ve heard of vinegar in a cake.

  48. Hannah says:

    Aw, how cute! And such lovely decorations- Pun intended. πŸ˜‰

  49. I love love love this post! I have always thought the relationship between the scientific heart and the romantic heart is super interesting. I also love how you decorated the cupcakes. So, just basically, lots of love all around. For this post. And you πŸ™‚

  50. Pam says:

    Wholly Yumm!

    Thanks girl for the heads-up for the regional recipes….I will get something together and email ya….will be fun…great idea!…thank you!


  51. These cupcakes look so delicious!!!! perfect for the V day:)

  52. Gulmohar says:

    Perfect one for the valentines day..Loved your white heart frosting too :-)I was planning to make red velvet cake sometimes soon, just because I got addicted to the color..lol..

  53. These are perfect for Valentine’s Day!!! Love your decorating skills!

  54. Andreas says:

    Maybe unrequited love is not in the heart but in one of those cupcakes. Waiting to be picked up by someone who will love the baker back.

  55. Nicole, RD says:

    It’s a bad day to have a sweet tooth in blogland! YUMMM! Those look wonderful!!

  56. What a great post!!!! And those cakes are gorgeous πŸ™‚

  57. I thought I left a comment last night before going to bed but it looks like I might have forgotten to click the POST COMMENT button… this is what your velvet cupcakes could do Joanne… I want to have a bite of it soooo badly it messes up my brain!

  58. the twins says:

    i love red velvet cake. your cupcakes look so good!
    i liked reading your thoughts on love too…interesting…i’m a psych major, and i’m minoring in nutrition, so i have to take physiology too.
    in response to your comment on our blog, i’ve never tried the 3 layer hummus. but it has to be good if its trader joe’s hummus =) the chipotle one is great too, but original is my favorite.

  59. Love your intro to this post: a foodie blog with heart, brains and food.

    Thanks for your comment on my Joy of Desserts blog post at Our Krazy Kitchen. Glad you appreciated the humor. Also loved your own new Italian post at Our Krazy Kitchen.

    BTW, my son wants us to start training for a marathon. Sounds so daunting to me. I guess I should think of just one step at a time. We are used to hiking — a lot. πŸ™‚

  60. see it surely messes up my brain… i don’t have the hand-brain coordination anymore… i meant to say red velvet cupcakes haha!

  61. sophia says:

    Romantic love is overrated.
    This lovely cupcake is making me think of that cupcake we shared at NYC!

  62. Nostalgia says:

    Lol! You had me cracking up. Red velvet cake, matters of the heart, HBO late night movies and red velvet cake with white heart cream icing. Happy Valentines day, have a good one!

  63. Juliana says:

    Wow, these red velvet cupcakes are adorable… enjoy reading your post πŸ™‚

  64. Debinhawaii says:

    I love red velvet cake and your icing hearts look so cute too! πŸ˜‰

  65. love the heart icing on the cake..great idea for valentine’s day !!

  66. Katy ~ says:

    These are ADORABLE! Feeling the love just looking at these!

  67. sra says:

    Guess I’m late to this party! I ate these for the first time last year and have been in love with them ever since.

  68. msmeanie says:

    Cute post! Also, your cupcakes puffed up beautifully! They look gorgeous and perfect for Valentines Day.

  69. Kevin says:

    Those cupcakes are so vibrantly red and look so good!

  70. Kerstin says:

    What gorgeous cupcakes – love the hearts you frosting on top!

  71. […] Four years ago…Salmon Poached in Court Bouillon, Red Velvet Cupcakes […]

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