It's time for a naughty treat

These easy-to-make red velvet cupcakes are a delicious treat.
These easy-to-make red velvet cupcakes are a delicious treat. 123rf

SOMETIMES it's necessary to throw caution to the wind, forget that you have to squeeze into a swimsuit anytime soon, and enjoy something deliciously naughty. Cupcakes are a sensible way to eat food that is not sensible.

These very good little red velvet cupcakes are simple to make and stay fresh for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Try to find natural cochineal to colour the batter rather than a chemical-based one; if in doubt, you can leave it out altogether. For the frosting, you need to use full-fat cream cheese. If you use the light version the frosting will melt and run off the cupcakes. Don't spoil the joy by feeling guilty, just go for a good long walk afterwards.

Red velvet cupcakes

Makes 18 cakes

INGREDIENTS: 2 1/3 cups plain flour

2 heaped tbs cocoa

1 tsp bicarb soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup caster sugar

250ml buttermilk

3/4 cup macadamia or grapeseed oil

2 tsp pure vanilla essence, divided

2 large free-range eggs

3 tsp cochineal (optional)

2 tsp white vinegar

250g cream cheese at room temperature

100g unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/4 cups pure icing sugar

cake sprinkles

METHOD: Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line 18 holes in muffin tins with paper cases. Sift together in a bowl the flour, cocoa, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt. Stir the sugar through and make a well in the centre. In a large jug, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, half the vanilla essence, eggs, food colouring and vinegar until combined. Pour wet ingredients into the well in the dry ingredients and, using a wooden spoon, mix gently until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tins and bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting, using an electric mixer beat the cream cheese, butter and remaining vanilla essence together until light and fluffy. Sift the icing sugar into the bowl and beat again until combined. Put in a piping bag and pipe the tops of the cakes. Sprinkle with cake sprinkles.

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