Red Velvet Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream

What’s better for Valentine’s Day then champagne and chocolate?  Not much, well maybe some diamonds from Tiffany’s or Cartier but for most of us that’s not going to happen.  So here’s something that is sure to impress your special someone on Valentine’s Day.  It’s a red velvet cupcake (because I had to make it festive looking) with a vanilla heart in the center, topped with silky-smooth champagne buttercream!

I swear it’s not that hard and it’s even easier if you use cake mix for the center (I made it from scratch though), I would stick with the red velvet recipe below though because it’s super moist and delicious!

Vanilla Cake

Makes 24 cupcakes

I actually made the cake in cupcake pans, because I currently don’t own a cake pan (I know it’s sad), but you can bake it either way.

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 t baking powder

½ t baking soda

½ t salt

½ cup whole milk

½ cup vegetable oil

1 t vanilla

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup sugar

4 large egg whites at room temperature

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and either line cupcake tins with liners or grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans.
  2. Using a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk the dry ingredients together.
  4. In a small bowl or large measuring cup mix together the milk and the oil.
  5. While the mixer is on low add the egg whites one at a time to the butter and sugar making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Beat in the vanilla.
  7. On low, alternating with the milk/oil, add in the dry ingredients in three additions.
  8. Fill the cupcake tins ½ full or divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans.
  9. Bake the cupcakes for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Bake the cakes for about 40-50 minutes.
  10. Let the cupcakes/cake cool on a wire rack, then unmold, keeping the cupcakes in the liners, and freeze.


Cutting the Hearts Out

  1. Once the cupcakes are frozen, remove the lines.
  2. Using a serrated knife, trim off the tops and the bottoms of the cupcakes.

3. Using a small heart shaped cookie cutter cut one heart out of each cupcake.

4. Refreeze the hearts.

5. If you’ve made cakes, trim off the tops and bottoms and cut out 24 hearts.

After taste testing some of the scrapes I froze the rest in case I want to use them for a later baking project like cake pops!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Recipe taken from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes (I have to admit it might be the best red velvet I’ve had)

Makes 24 cupcakes

2 ½ cups cake flour

2 T Dutch processed cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark which is actually a mixture of Dutch and regular)

1 t salt

1 ½ cups sugar

1 ½ cups vegetable oil

2 large eggs at room temperature

½ t or so of red food coloring (more if you’re using the liquid kind)

1 t vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

1 ½ t baking soda

2 t white vinegar (I used apple cider)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line cupcake tins with liners.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer mix together the sugar and oil on medium speed until combined.
  3. Mix in the eggs one at a time into the above mixture.
  4. Mix in the food coloring and the vanilla.
  5. In a separate bowl combine the flour, cocoa, and salt.
  6. Alternating twice with the buttermilk, mix in the dry ingredients in three additions. *At this point get your vanilla cake hearts out of the freezer.*
  7. . In a small bowl mix together the baking soda and vinegar so it is bubbly and add it to the cake batter bowl.  Mix for about 10 seconds on medium.
  8. Using one hand hold one heart upright in a cupcake mold.  Spoon red velvet batter around the heart so that it stands straight up.  Fill the mold ¾ full.

9. Repeat this for all of the cupcakes, making sure to keep track of which way the hearts are facing for when you cut into them later.

10. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the red velvet portion of the cupcake comes out clean.

11. Cool on a wire rack.


Champagne Buttercream

5 egg whites at room temperature

1 cup plus 2 T sugar

Pinch of salt

4 sticks unsalted butter

1 to 1 ½ cups champagne (I used Cupcake Piemonte Moscato which is pretty sweet and technically isn’t a champagne but I couldn’t resist using it since it’s called Cupcake!)

  1. Bring a medium pot with about one inch of water to a simmer.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt.
  3. Set the mixing bowl over the pot to make a double boiler.  Make sure that the bowl is not submerged in the water.
  4. Whisk the egg white mixture by hand until the sugar has dissolved and the mixer is warm.
  5. Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium-high until the bottom of the bowl is body temperature and the egg whites form stiff peaks.  This will take a few minutes.
  6. Turn the mixer down to low and add the butter little by little until all of it has been added and the mixture is smooth.  If the butter is too cold the buttercream will separate.  If this happens you can either heat it up a bit over the double boiler or whisk the beans out of it and it should come back together.
  7. Switch the paddle attachment and beat the mixture for about 30 seconds on medium high to burst some of the bubbles you made while previously whisking (this will make it smoother).
  8. Little by little beat in the champagne until you get the desired taste you want!  If you add too much the champagne will separate out, so make sure you go slowly here.
  9. Using a pastry bag fit with a plan tip pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes *** Make sure you are still keeping track as to which way the hearts are facing***

If you’re not up to making Swiss Buttercream, which is what the above is, you can make American Buttercream which is a lot easier but not as smooth.  You can do this by beating 1 pound unsalted butter (at room temperature) with one pound sifted powder sugar.  Once it’s combined and smooth add in the champagne.  You’ll also be able to add more champagne to this recipe too.

To make the cupcakes a little more festive you can dust them with edible luster dust or sprinkle on some festive sprinkles!

When you’re going to serve them, have your valentine use a serrated knife to cut the cupcakes in half so they can see the surprise heart on the inside!

With these recipes you’re going to have a lot of left over egg yolks.  If you save them you can make a custard based ice cream or crème brûlée!

15 thoughts on “Red Velvet Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream

  1. I’m going to gve these a try and take then into work next week. Wish me luck – you make it look easy, but I can just see the vanilla hearts inside the cupcakes coming out lopsided and funky looking. But they’ll still be delish !!

  2. Marjory,

    You’re becoming very professional with your blogs and it’s clear you have something of value to say. I see good things for you ahead.

    Mark C. (

  3. This looks super cute for valentines! just one, really dumb question.
    How do you know which way to cut them? I mean, so you’d get a heart, instead of an I? hehe.

    • Put all the hearts facing in the cupcake pan in the same direction, remember what direction that was (if you’re spacy like me, write it down) and then when the you go to frost them put a garnish or decoration, such as a heart on top, that signifys which direction the heart is on the inside.

  4. Love this idea so much! going to try it out for valentines for sure. 1 small question though, when you put the hearts into the cupcake cases with the other mixture, are the hearts still frozen or do you let them completely defrost before baking inside the mixture?

  5. Pingback: All Yummy Recipes

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