After getting side tracked by a suggestion by love2boys, I returned to my previously advertised choice of cupcakes for our Supernatural Cupcake Wars: a red velvet cupcake otherwise known as "Alpha Vampire's Delight." It seemed like a wise choice. After all, Rick Worthy, the Alpha Vampire on the show, has often said that red velvet cupcakes are his favorite kind! So I decided to dedicate this one to him and his character.
The Alpha Vampire's first actual appearance in "Family Matters" gave me chills. Even though he was wrapped in chains, dosed on Dead Man's Blood, and locked in a cage, it just didn't seem enough to hold him there. He seemed unflappable and frightening, and really he hadn't done anything. And then he spoke, calling out to Sam and Dean, in that deep rumbly voice, "Are you two going to hide all night? Come on out, boys."
Here was a monster, an honest to God monster, and while he was being held against his will by hunters, it just didn't seem to bother him that much. I think that's what really made it more frightening for me in those scenes where he talks with Soulless Sam and Dean. We could see him calculating his moves as he tapped those extremely long fingernails, as his eyes swept over each brother, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and knowing just where they were vulnerable. The Alpha Vampire was never really in that much danger from them or any of the hunters in Samuel's group---and it seems that everyone in that room knew it on some level.
There's nothing more chilling than the Alpha Vampire's statement, "When your kind first huddled around the fire, I was the thing in the dark! Now you think you can hurt me?"
And the Alpha Vampire hits a nerve by bringing up Dean's time as a vampire. He tells the elder Winchester, "You were my child for a time," and it makes Dean bristle instantly. We can tell by his actions later that this was a bit of a stalling technique. After all, he needed the Dead Man's Blood to ebb in his system so he could fight back. When it came to Soulless Sam, the Alpha Vampire didn't hold any punches back. He focuses in on Sam's peculiar situation, and states coolly, "You smell cold. You have no soul. What an oddity. Do you feel how empty you are? What is it like to have no soul? Answer my question."
The Alpha Vampire has no problem divulging why he's in chains, either. He knows what Samuel is after. He knows that they're looking for where he'll go when he dies. He says, "I'm trying to answer the question. Now, when we "freaks" die... where do we go? Not heaven, not hell. So?" The answer is Purgatory---the place of blood and bone and monsters of every stripe fighting and bleeding and dying for eternity---and that is what Samuel is looking for. They just don't know why.
They have no time to learn as Samuel crashes the party, and then the Alpha Vampire breaks free and threatens to turn Soulless Sam, dark words slithering in his rich voice, "The boy with no soul. I've got big plans for you. It's amazing how that pesky, little soul gets in the way. But not for you. You will be the perfect... animal."
Rick Worthy sells on this creature. He's mysterious, dark, disturbing, and a manifestation of our greatest fears in one entity. Worthy made him memorable and powerful. We believed he was the Alpha Vampire simply by how he carried himself. And as any of you who follow him on Twitter know, Worthy adores Red Velvet Cupcakes. So here's the recipe I used and the odyssey of their baking.
Red Velvet Cupcakes:
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz. red food coloring (two bottles) or 4 oz beet juice (if you use unprocessed light cocoa you can leave out the food dyes and you'll get a warm red/brown color)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins or silicone pans with cupcake liners. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a smaller bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps and set aside.
In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Be careful as it will fizz so don't do it in a shallow bowl. Add vinegar mixture to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Fill cupcake cups with cake batter until they are a little under 3/4 full. I ended up with 20 cupcakes. Place muffin tins in your preheated oven. Bake for approximately 20, rotating pans halfway through. The cupcakes are done when you are able to pat the tops and the cake springs back up. If it sinks down they are not yet complete. Or you can insert a toothpick into the center of a cupcake in the center of the tin and if it comes out clean they are done!
Cool the cupcakes in their tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter
12 oz cream cheese
3 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Make sure all of your ingredients are room temperature. In a mixing bowl, mix butter on medium speed until light and creamy. Add cream cheese and mix until fluffy. Slowly add the sugar, one cup at a time. Continue to mix. Finally, add the vanilla extract to the mixture and mix until it has a creamy consistency.
You can store this frosting for up to three days in the refrigerator in an airtight container. When you are ready to use it simply mix it with an electric mixer until it becomes smooth.
Once my ingredients were at room temperature, I started by sifting my flour and other dry ingredients together. That was the basic part. I was apprehensive about taking my cocoa powder and food coloring and mixing that in a bowl. I dumped in the appropriate measurement for the cocoa and poured in the whole bottle of food dye I had, mixing it slowly together. It took awhile to make sure all the powder ended up in the dye. It turned into a thick mess, actually, and I crossed my fingers that I had done it right.
I was much more comfortable with the butter and sugar. It looked like it should, nice and fluffy and tasty, even though I hadn't really added in flavor yet. Eggs and vanilla went in next and it just looked that much better. It came time to add in my red paste and I put that in, watching it turn a deep rich red almost instantly---like I had just cut my palm the way Sam and Dean do for a spell or something. It was fascinating to watch the transformation happen, and the batter really started to take shape then.
I added in my flour really slowly, not wanting to ruin the fluffy consistency of the batter thus far. Once I had my 1/3 in place, I poured in half of my buttermilk. I was a bit apprehensive about that, too. I hadn't used it in my baking before, so I hoped I would mix it in well here. I let the mixer go a bit until it seemed like everything was mixed, added more flour, and repeated with the buttermilk. It was getting smoother and richer---and I could almost see it becoming like velvet as I watched it mix---and then finished with my last round of flour.
I scraped everything down and turned off the mixer so I could play scientist with my vinegar and baking soda. I put the powder into a bowl, measured out my vinegar and watched it fizz as I stirred. It was neat---a tasty science experiment that I didn't have to figure any chemistry for. No chemical equations here, just tasty results, folks! I poured that into the mixing bowl and turned it back on, letting that get beat into the batter.
Once done, I put the bowl on the table next to my cupcake lined pans and started to fill them. I had wanted cherries for this, but alas, no dice. There were no frozen cherries to be had to put in as a little surprise center. I settled for raspberries, putting a bit into the bottom of the cupcake holder and then dropping in a frozen raspberry or two. I covered up the treasure with more batter for half of the cupcakes and left the other half without, mostly because I ran out of batter to put fruit in them all. That done, I slipped them into the oven and watched them bake up.
Once outside of the oven, they were beautiful and large. They smelled wonderful. The rich red color was something to behold---hopefully befitting that of the Alpha Vampire! I would frost them the next day.
Ah frosting. Much like my first attempt at buttercream, I was nervous about cream cheese frosting. It was rather simple---and tasty to boot. I beat my butter nice and smooth, added in my cream cheese and sugar and vanilla and let it mix as directed until it looked so delectable. Once done I sat down and frosted the beautiful cupcakes.
But I did have one problem. I ran out of cupcakes and had a ton of frosting left over. What is a girl to do? You can't throw it. That's a crime against frosting. You can't sit and eat it all in one go. That'd put one in a sugar coma. So what to do? So I decided to put it in a container and put in the fridge. I could find something to do with it.
That something? A twist on cinnamon toast. I toasted up some bread, smeared a generous amount of frosting on the slices, and then dashed cinnamon over the top. It's the best cinnamon toast EVER. It's a good thing I can't afford cream cheese often or I'd be very broke or very fat or both. It was really nice and tasty. On cupcakes. On toast. On bagels. I'm sure it's pretty much good on anything.
So----what is the verdict on these cupcakes? Great. They were like velvet in texture, the red color is rich and satisfying, and the little "surprise" hidden in some of them well worth it. The cream cheese tied it all up well. Sure, it doesn't have any fancy decorations or absolute "tie-in" to Supernatural as some of the others I've made do, but its simple elegance seems to fit both the Alpha Vampire and the actor that portrays him---Rick Worthy. Sometimes it's the less complicated that can pay the best homage anyways.
I do know the next cupcake for certain. The "Where All Your Dreams Are Good" Lemon Rainbow Cupcake---an homage to "Plucky's Pennywhistle Magical Menagerie," a classic episode of season 7. It's going to be awesome---and no, it won't taste like butt, I hope.