I’m the Grinch of Valentine’s Day. It was never “celebrated” in the India I lived in when I was a teenager so it has no significance for me. At best we had friendship bands. But now it seems to be all the rage among the young people. I couldn’t be bothered – I’ve never received a valentine or given one. Luckily my husband feels the same way.
I don’t recall when Valentine’s Day became so popular in India – Rs. 12 crore (1 crore = 10 million) was spent by people last year on Valentine’s Day. But its rise in popularity among young urbanites has seen a converse rise in hatred of those celebrating it. Once again Hindu religious extremists stomp all over and take way too seriously a silly celebration. I don’t believe in the whole Valentine’s malarky but I’m not going around forcing couples who are found canoodling on park benches to get married or blackening the faces or shaving the heads of those found celebrating Valentine’s Day. That stupidity is reserved for Hindu extremist organisations like RSS, VHP, Sang Parivar who believe western culture is corrupting Indian culture. The self appointed morality police have caused havoc in the past, burning shops selling Valentine’s Day merchandise and running around trying to marry couples found holding hands on Valentine’s Day.
I don’t give any thought to Valentine’s Day, but this year I’ve been tormented by Red Velvet Cupcakes. I just had to give in. Cupcakes have become very fashionable these days – whole shops dedicated to the miniature cake. I was recently given these lovely silicone cupcake moulds by my dad and I’ve been dying to break them in. But all desserts, except for fruits, are off the consumption list in our house. We indulged last week in icecream when my parents visited and are now paying for our sins.
Red Velvet Cupcakes, called so because of their colour and texture, are all the rage on Valentine’s Day. Every food website has at least 5 recipes for them and their all pretty much the same. So I took advantage of this silly commercial holiday and ditched the permanent health kick that we are on and in 20 minutes like magic they emerged from the oven.
My husband was not aware of my decision to gaily abandon the list of prohibited items for consumption in our house. But clearly he had been craving it too because he was waiting for me to open the front door, he shouted from the outside with unabashed joy – I smell cake!! I suspected that the hype around Red Velvet cupcakes would only let me down when I came to tasting them. But they did not disappoint. The key ingredients are buttermilk, oil and vinegar that give them their soft velvety smoothness. I highly recommend indulging in these sinful red jewels.
Most recipes you’ll find on the internet are for 24 cupcakes and I couldn’t bring myself to go that far over the edge – there’s only the two of us! So I’ve adapted the recipe to make a modest 10 cupcakes.
Recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes (makes 10)
Preheat oven to 180 centigrade
In one bowl sift together:
1 cup flour; 1/2 cup sugar. a pinch of baking powder (1/8th a tsp). a pinch of salt (1/8th a tsp) and 2tsps cocoa powder.
In another bowl mix: 1/2 cup of buttermilk (you can add 1/2 tbsp white vinegar to 1/2 cup of milk and leave for 10 minutes). 1/2 cup of oil, 1 egg, 1 tsp red food colouring, 1/2 tsp vinegar, 1 tsp vanilla essence/extract.
Slowly add a third of the dry ingredients at a time in to the wet ingredients and fold in. Spoon 2/3rds up of a cupcake mould and bake for 20 minutes.Allow to cool before removing from the moulds and lay on a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
Traditionally one tops with a cream cheese icing but we do not get ready made cream cheese in Vizag and I would only make the stuff from scratch if someone ordered a cheesecake from me. So i went with some left over melted chocolate and a tsp of butter and topped the cooled cupcakes. It does need an icing of some kind because the cupcakes are not that sweet in themselves.