Red Velvet Cupcakes for a sweet, sweet Pentecost

Pentecost is one of the Church’s most exuberant and joyous celebrations. Parishes around the diocese will be harnessing that joy in Scripture and song this weekend as we all celebrate the birthday of the Church.

The oldest feast in the Church, Pentecost took place 50 days after the first Easter when, according to the Book of Acts, the Apostles were gathered with the Blessed Virgin Mary — in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit descended on them there in a rushing wind that was heard throughout the city.

The Acts of the Apostles records that Jews from all over were also gathered in Jerusalem at that time to celebrate the Jewish feast of Shavuot and the sealing of the first covenant and giving of the Torah with Moses at Sinai.  Throughout the city there was heard “a sound from heaven as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with diverse tongues…”

Jesus had promised his Apostles that he would send the Holy Spirit and so, on Pentecost, they were given the gifts of the Spirit and began to preach the Gospel in all of the languages  of the Jews who were gathered there. About 3000 people were converted and baptized on that day and this is why, scholars write Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Church.

Since it’s the birthday of the Church, it seems appropriate to celebrate after Mass with a cake. Since cupcakes are such a “hot” food trend right now, fellow faithful foodie Valerie GiGiacomo and I thought red velvet cupcakes it would be a fine idea.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Ingredients: 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour; 1 1/2 cups sugar; 1 teaspoon baking soda; 1 teaspoon salt; 2 tablespoons cocoa powder; 1 cup vegetable oil; 1.5 cups buttermilk, room temperature; 2 large eggs, room temperature; 2 tablespoons red food coloring; 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Ingredients for the frosting: 1/2 pound cream cheese, softened; 1 stick butter, softened; 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar.

Directions: preheat the oven to 350 degrees. double line 2 (12 cup) muffin pans with cup cake papers. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In a large bowl, gently beat the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake for about 20 minutes. Test the cupcakes with a tooth pick for doneness. Remove from the oven and cool completely before frosting.

Directions for the frosting: In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until blended. Then, bring the speed up to high until the frosting becomes very light and fluffy. Spread the frosting with a butter knife and top with colored sprinkles.


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