I was batting around a lot of cupcake ideas this week and asking for input. All I knew was that I was wanted to do a meringue frosting. The Red Hots idea came from a coworker – Red Hots and a flaming top of whipped frosting were definitely a match. I was sold.
Red Hots themselves offer no nutritional value, basically corn syrup and artificial flavors, but then those flavors are so simple – cinnamon and chili. It seemed easy enough to mimic the flavor in a very natural and tasty cupcake.
My first try was somewhat successful. There is a “foodiness” to the cupcake that distracts from the flavors somewhat, but topping the cake with a red hot infused frosting was just the trick in making the statement I intended.
The cake has a light, airy texture, is not too sweet, and has an interesting crunch from the chili powder. The frosting is sticky and sweet with a definite red hot flavor. Together they make a nice combination with the end result being sweet but not over powering.
Red Hot Cupcakes
15 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven
1/2 cup cake flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
5 teaspoons ancho chili powder
1/4 cup grape seed oil (or vegetable oil)
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup water
5 egg whites
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1. Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and chili powder into the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. In a medium bowl, combine oil, egg yolks, and water. Stir to combine.
3. On a low setting, start to beat the dry mixture and slowly add the wet. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until the mixture is incorporated.
4. Transfer mixture to another bowl. Wash and dry mixer bowl.
5. Whip egg whites with whip attachment on medium-high speed until foamy. With the mixer on medium speed, add cream of tarter and slowly add sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
6. Scoop a cupful of the stiff egg whites into the batter and stir to combine. This should lighten up the batter.
7. Transfer the batter to the egg whites and gently fold until there are no more streaks of egg white.
8. Scoop into cupcake cups about 2/3s full and bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Note: I prefer the taste of ancho chili powder, but by all means, feel free to swap out with your favorite chili powder or powders.
Red Hot Meringue Frosting
5 egg whites
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup red hots, ground in a food processor until fine
1. Combine egg whites and sugar into the mixing bowl of your stand mixer and set over a bain marie (water bath)
2. Whisk by hand for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved or preferably until the mixture reaches 110 degrees Fahrenheit
3. Transfer bowl to electric mixer, beat on medium speed for 10 minutes
4. Add ground up red hots.
5. Beat on high speed until stiff glossy peaks form, about 5 to 10 minutes more.
Note: I ground up the red hots in a small food processor for about 30 seconds. It was partially a fine powder and partially small chunks. I liked the variety. It turned the frosting pink and added a nice crunch.
1. Scoop a good sized mound of frosting with an ice cream scooper onto each cupcake.
2. Using a clean finger, smooth frosting down and over the edges of the cupcake and into a round shape.
3. Using a clean finger, poke out some spikes onto each cupcake.
4. Lightly brown with a culinary torch for an added touch.
5. Top each cupcake with a red hot candy.