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Red Velvet CupcakesEver since cupcakeries started rising up all over the country, from big cities like NYC’s Magnolia Bakery and LA’s Sprinkles to small boutique stand-outs like Boise’s Buttercup Happy Cakes and Portland’s many purveyor’s  (St. Cupcake, Cupcake Jones & The Sugar Cube) red velvet has seen a resurgence. ( Sprinkles even offers a gluten-free red velvet.)

Red Velvet Cupcakes w/mascarpone Buttercream Frosting

This delectable Southern concoction was previously relegated to a 50’s era favorite, before the grey armadillo exterior meets blood-red velvet interior of the groom’s cake featured in Steel Magnolias, brought this flavor screaming back into our collective consciousness. As one of my favorite sites, Foodista recently pointed out, you can get your red velvet fix in a variety of incarnations from whoopie pies and ice cream to cookies and Rice Krispy treats.

Red velvet pancakes with mascarpone topping & turkey bacon

But my all-time favorite recipe for this scarlet blushed confection is the Red Velvet pancakes featured with marscapone spread and Grand Marnier syrup in last February’s  Minnesota Monthly, from Chef Becky J. Windels of The Herb Box. They are incredibly moist and chocolatey, yet not overly sweet and not too rich (even with the mascarpone!). The recipe makes a ton, which you can save and use again the next day or you can do what I do and use the leftover batter for the most moist and fluffy cupcakes ever, frosted with mascarpone buttercream.  Yum!

A delight for and anniversary or Valentine's Day

If you live in Minnesota, I highly recommend you head on over to The Herb Box and get yourself a heaping stack of red velvet bliss — you’re welcome!

HERB BOX RED VELVET PANCAKES

By Chef Becky Windels

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sea salt
1 c. organic white sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cage free large eggs, lightly beaten
3 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. crème fraiche
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp. all natural red food coloring
3 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 c. rice bran oil

Directions: In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Add wet and dry together and whisk just until combined. Heat a frying pan or griddle over medium high heat. When hot, add butter or oil to grease, followed by a small scoop of the batter. Wait for the pancakes to bubble (2-3 minutes), flip and cook for a minute or two more. Garnish with mascarpone spread and Grand Marnier syrup.
Yield: Approx. 18 mid-size pancakes

MASCARPONE SPREAD
8 oz. softened mascarpone
4 oz. crème fraiche
1/4 c. organic white sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon zest

Directions: In a small bowl, whisk together to combine.
Yield: Approx. 14 oz

GRAND MARNIER SYRUP
2 c. organic sugar
2 c. water
1/2 c. organic orange concentrate
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 c. Grand Marnier
Slurry organic corn starch

Directions: Heat all ingredients to dissolve. Add cornstarch as needed to thicken.
Yield: One quart
Recipe as featured in Elizabeth Dehn’s article in Minnesota Monthly, entitled “Elizabeth’s Pick: Red Velvet Pancakes