2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 1/2 T. cocoa powder
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 T. red food coloring
1 t. white distilled vinegar
1 t. vanilla extract
For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 t. vanilla
2 c. sifted powdered sugar
Garnishes: pecans, fresh raspberries, fresh strawberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.
In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins filling to about 2/3rds. Bake for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.
Frost the cupcakes with a butter knife or pipe it on with a big star tip. Decorate each cupcake with your choice of chopped pecans, a few fresh raspberries, or a bright red strawberry.
For a child's birthday party, these look nice sprinkled with decorative red sugar and a candle on each one.