This recipe just came to me via email from Food Network as announcement to a new show, Dessert First, with their newest star, Anne Thornton. I’m going to have to tell me mom about this show because she has been known to look at the dessert menu first and base the rest of her meal around what she finds there – it cracks me up!

The first show is this Sunday, October 24 at noon ET. She is starting with a Halloween show where she will make these Red Velvet Brain Cupcakes and a whimsical Milk Chocolate Graveyard Cake adorned with chocolate trees, cotton candy and pretzel candy bones. Plus Couture Caramel Apples smothered in toppings like salted pecans, toasted coconut and candied ginger! Oh my!!!!!

You can learn more about Anne and her new show by visiting the Dessert First show page on Food Network, follow @anne_thornton on Twitter, or like Anne Thornton on Facebook.


Anne Thornton’s Red Velvet Brain Cupcakes

• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
• 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice)
• 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
• 2 teaspoons red food coloring (recommended: Select natural food coloring)

• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
• 4 cups powdered sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/3 cup whole milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Red and black food coloring
• Special equipment: pastry bag and large round tip

Cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder, and fine sea salt together onto a piece of waxed paper. Mix the eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, vinegar, and food coloring in a standing mixer. Using the paddle attachment, on medium speed, beat until well combined. Turn down the mixer speed and slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing until totally smooth, about 3 minutes.

Line a standard 12 cupcake tin with the liners (preferably silver). Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full with the batter and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the pans for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove them from the pans. Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

Frosting: In a standing mixer, on medium speed, cream the butter until smooth. Turn down the mixer speed and slowly add the powdered sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla and mix until smooth and creamy. Add a drop each of red and black food coloring and mix into the frosting to make it a pinkish gray brain color.

Fill the pastry bag half full with the frosting, and pipe out into a squiggly pile on half of each cupcake top, then pipe the frosting in a squiggly pile on the other half of the cupcake top, making 2 brain hemispheres. This recipe gives a whole new meaning to brain food.



Disclosure: There is no compensation for this post, I just wanted to pass it along because I thought it was a great recipe idea for Halloween and sounds like a good show to watch. Transparency is everything!