Hungry Haley

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valentines day

Dark Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (Secret Ingredient!)

Chocolate, Dessert, Whole-WheatHaley Hansen4 Comments

Cupcakes are like kisses on the forehead. I adore kisses on the forehead. Do the math correctly, and you'll conclude that I also adore cupcakes. This being my first batch of homemade cupcakes (and this year's Valentine's Day another single-lady one), I almost forgot how special cupcakes are (and forehead kisses). Something about biting into a fluffy little personal-size chocolate cake with a dollop or two of creamy frosting brings a soft and sweet smile to my face. 

Dark Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (Secret Ingredient!)

Opinions on Valentine's Day can be divided into two categories, I think: love it or hate it. And the same seems to go for cupcakes: love them or hate them. For the former, I've heard friends and passersby complain and argue that we should be showing appreciation for loved ones year-round, not just on a "special" day of the year. And, don't deny it - keeping a genuine smile on one's face while couple after couple after couple exchange beloved forehead kisses can be... difficult. On the other hand, I've heard friends and passersby defend the special day and share with me how much they adore seeing hand-holding and forehead kisses and eyes locked on one another in love. 

For the latter, I know people who think cupcakes are too dainty, or too airy and fluffy, or just simply not satisfying enough. I understand this point of view - I see nothing wrong with craving a rich, luxurious something sweet, and sometimes cake... well, isn't that. On the other hand, I know people who reach for cupcakes before cookies or ice cream because of the sweetness not so much in its flavor or texture, but in it's dainty size. The frosting, though, cannot be denied of it's deliciousness, either. 

Don't expect me to take sides here, and I won't expect the same from you. Perhaps you and I are similar in our poor decision-making ability (a.k.a "indecisiveness"), or rather our kind-hearted inclusive appreciation for a variety of things (still "indecisiveness").

Dark Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (Secret Ingredient!)

When it comes to Valentine's Day, yeah - I would probably boast a bigger smile on my face if I were to spend the day holding hands with a guy I find unbelievably special than if I were to spend it reminding myself of the benefits of being single in my 20's. Note: my friends and I have extravagant belated V-Day plans that involve cheese, wine, and my favorite beach-sunset, so it's all good. Just sayin'. BUT I certainly group myself with those who "awwwww" with heart-shaped eyes at couples holding hands and exchanging invaluable forehead kisses (and a dozen roses - dudes - isn't anything to complain about). I'm a softy for romantic relationships. 

When it comes to cupcakes, yeah - I will usually take a face-sized cookie or a thick brownie over a cute little cupcake. What can I say? I love my decadent sweets. BUT that isn't to say I can't appreciate a fluffy hand-held cake with creamy, sweet frosting (I'm definitely more of a frosting girl than a cake girl, though). My sweet tooth doesn't really discriminate. 

Makes 10 regular-size cupcakes, or 12 small ones

For the cupcakes:
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup cacao powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing (optional)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup grated beets

For the frosting: 
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
6 tbsp. butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
chocolate sprinkles, optional 

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and either grease a cupcake tin with butter or oil or line with parchment paper baking cups.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, almond milk and butter. Slowly add in the sugar and vanilla extract.

  3. Sift in the flour, cacao powder, baking soda and baking powder and mix to combine. Stir in the grated beets until combined.

  4. Fill each cupcake tin 3/4 full with batter and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before removing.

  5. To make the frosting while the cupcakes cool, whisk together the cream cheese and butter until combined. Add in the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, and whisk until fluffy.

  6. When the cupcakes have cooled, spread about a tablespoon or two of frosting on top of each cupcake and, if desired, top with chocolate sprinkles.

  7. Enjoy!


  • I have tried using oat flour and the cupcakes completely crumbled when I tried to remove them from the pan after cooling, so I recommend flour with a higher gluten content.

  • The batter will be a beautifully bright red before baking, and then turn to a darker red as seen in the photos.

  • You may end up with extra frosting - all you need for that is a spoon :)

Dark Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (Secret Ingredient!)