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Red Velvet Cupcakes in a Jar

I know, cakes in jars are so last year. But what I love about these – the absolute brilliance of them – is that the batter isn’t actually baked in jars, but the finished, baked cupcakes are cut crosswise into thirds and layered in standard-sized jars for a clean, striped, beautiful presentation. Especially perfect for those who, like me, are such fans of cream cheese frosting that they appreciate a 1:1 cake:frosting ratio.

I came across these brilliant beauties at last weekend’s Market Collective, a sort of pop-up marketplace in Calgary showcasing the work of local artists and musicians, at a new shop called Pretty Sweet. And it was – handmade cake stands, vintage jars of homemade granola and salted caramel, and single serving treats like brownies and cookies in pretty packages. And these cupcakes. In jars. But not like the usual.

The jars were the packaging, but not the baking vehicle – cake and frosting neatly layered in these see-through to-go packages were perfect for the bake sale stand setup – we were strolling and shopping, checking out the art and jewelry (it’s like etsy, come to life!), and could easily pass around the cupcake in a jar, which came with a spoon – perfect for accessing all that frosting. After all, the very best part of any red velvet cupcake is the cream cheese frosting, isn’t it? Yum.

To make them – in any flavour – simply bake your cupcakes, cool them, unwrap and slice crosswise into thirds. Put the bottom third into the bottom of a standard 250 mL ring-top jar, and pipe a thick layer of frosting overtop. (I like to spoon the frosting into a heavy-duty ziplock bag, then snip off a corner. It looks like she did something similar – the simple round hole for piping out of creates that thick, appealing swirl.)

Continue layering cake and frosting until you get to the top, leaving a bit of breathing space for the lid. Oh the possibilities! Thanks for the inspiration, Vicki!

(This isn’t Vicki’s recipe – it’s just a standby red velvet cupcake recipe I’ve had success with in the past. Really, her method could be used with any cake and frosting combo!)

Red Velvet Cupcakes (in a jar or not)

adapted from AllRecipes

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/22 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp. red food colouring
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the sour cream, milk, food colouring and vanilla and beat until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture by hand or with the beaters on low speed until just combined. Pour into paper-lined muffin tins, filling them about 3/4 full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until springy to the touch. Tip the cakes on a slight angle in the tins to allow steam to escape. Cool completely before frosting with cream cheese frosting or cutting to layer in jars. Makes 2 dozen cupcakes.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting: Beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar you have a smooth frosting consistency. Add a spoonful of water if the mixture seems too thick.

Check out 15 more desserts in a jar!

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