Everyone has their thing. I, for one, will never buy frosting. It tastes awful and I can't handle store bought flavor. I will also only buy Heinz ketchup. It's probably petty and certainly ridiculous but even when the budget is tight, I'd rather buy half as much ketchup and wait until a sale than stare at a "western family catsup" bottle every time I open the fridge and dip into something not quite right.
However, with cupcakes... I'm not so die hard. I've had some delicious home made cupcakes and some too-dry-for-all-the-effort homemade cupcakes. So, I know some people will click this window shut when they see a cake mix, and some will say, "finally, something I'll actually make." I guess you can't please everyone, but I promise these cupcakes do. I found this recipe about six years ago in the Arizona Republic. They take me right back to my wedding and the most beautiful cake I ever saw. These are fast, moist, and delicious. I've made them using yellow, lemon, chocolate, and other cake mixes. With the hustle of the holidays, I don't think you'll miss all the measuring and sifting. And I'll be back to crazy, 100 percent homemade desserts once I have a real kitchen again (moving is sure tricky!)
Note: I decorated these with Wilton's Jumbo Nonpareil sprinkles, generously donated by Auburn. I'm crazy enough that I just picked out the green ones. Good thing my husband wasn't home, he would have seriously doubted me there.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
1 cup sour cream (reduced fat is fine)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 ounce red food coloring (one small bottle)
1 box German chocolate cake mix
Preheat the oven to 350.
Combine all ingredients in stand mixer and beat for two minutes until combined. Using a 2-tablespoon scoop, scoop into 24 paper-cup lined muffin tins.
Bake for 21-24 minutes or until cupcakes spring back slightly when touched and a tooth pick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool on racks and frost once completely cooled.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 package of cream cheese, softened (I like to use Neufchatel, less fat and I don't notice much difference)
1/2 cup butter, softened (one stick)
2 Tablespoons milk
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or the seeds of one vanilla pod, scraped
dash of salt
6 cups of powdered sugar (more or less to achieve desired consistency, this is a baseline)
1 Tablespoon meringue powder
In a mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add in the milk, vanilla, and salt, and blend.
Next, add the powdered sugar and meringue powder, cover the bowl of the mixer with a dish towel, and turn it on low until everything is combined. Then increase the speed for a minute or so until the frosting is light, fluffy, and delicious. The meringue powder will help set the frosting after it dries so it holds its shape.
Add 1 T. Lemon or orange zest and substitute juice for the milk to make a tangy citrus frosting