Red Red Rose-wood Cupcakes

I've got a secret, can you keep it? Swear this one you'll save... because these cupcakes are freaking delicious! 

For those of you who are not 14 years old and obsessed with Pretty Little Liars like I am this post might seem a little random and bizarre. Just bear with me here because the result is a seriously indulgent red velvet recipe and easy frosting for you to whip up at home. 

The past couple of years I have been secretly (or maybe not so secretly) obsessed with this teenage drama and this week the #liars returned for the second half of their 6th season. 5 years later. As adults. Did you hear that?! I finally feel more validated watching a show on ABC Family! Kind of. Everyone has got to have their guilty pleasure, right?! For the mid-season premiere my friend Monica and I got together and of course had to bake something themed to commemorate the occasion. Some people tailgate... I bake for PLL. 

PLL follows a group of five high school friends, Emily, Aria, Spencer, Ali, and Hanna (my fav!), who are threatened and blackmailed for years by an anonymous person who goes by "A." In the midst of all this Aria has an affair with her teacher, Emily comes out and falls in love with every woman she meets, Spencer becomes addicted to drugs and is institutionalized, Hanna is arrested for shoplifting and her mom is blackmailed by a cop, and, oh yeah, Ali comes back from the dead. The drama is non-stop. Anyhow, on the mid-season finale they finally revealed who was torturing the girls as "A," thus the flash-forward to 5 years later. It may sound like a ridiculous premise... okay, it is a ridiculous premise but the cast is ridiculously good looking and the cliff-hangers were enough to reel me in for six seasons to date. If you have a Netflix account you should definitely tune into the first season. You'll be hooked. Or you might just judge my taste in television. #whatever

Now that I've loosely recapped you on the premise of the show, I guess it's time to reveal how we settled on this treat. Obvi, I knew I wanted to make something beautiful... and red. Red is a constant theme throughout the show from the obvious reference to blood and also the red coat that Ali wears when she is undercover and faking her own death. Okay, this show just seems crazier the more I write about it. ANYHOW, red velvet was a clear contender. It's rich, moist, and secretly just chocolate cake died red. Seriously, that's what red velvet is. Prettier chocolate cake. It's full of SeCrEtS. The title of this weeks PLL episode was "Of Late I think of Rosewood" and rose flavoring seemed like the perfect topping to these little red beauties. To lighten up the traditional red velvet pairing I went with a fluffy marshmallow-rose frosting. Together, it's sweet, floral, flavorful, and unexpected. 

While this was the perfect cuppie (that's short for cupcake) to accompany our pre-teen premiere party, I think it would also be a great Valentine's treat. I mean, get a load of those sparkly red maraschino cherries. If that doesn't scream romance I don't know what does!
...clearly I don't know what romance is but I do like anything glittery. Now get thee to a grocer and pick up your ingredients for your own Red Red Rose-wood Cupcakes! 

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Red Velvet Cupcakes
cake recipe found and modified from Sweetalpolita 

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons *red velvet flavor
1 tablespoon red food coloring
3 eggs, room temperature
2 -1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two cupcake tins with 12 cupcake liners each. This recipe makes approximately 20-24 cupcakes. I made mine in two rounds. 
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugars, red velvet flavor, and food coloring on medium speed until lighter in color and fluffy. This should take about 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a medium bowl. Add the salt to the dry ingredients after sifting, and whisk dry ingredients. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into creamy butter mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated and then fold in mayonnaise with a spoon.
In a small cup or bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda until it fizzes, then quickly add it to the batter and fold in until blended. Scoop the batter evenly between your prepared cupcake tins. Try to only fill about 2/3 of the cup as the batter will rise. Bake on top of a baking sheet in case of spillover until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or about 25 minutes. Try not to over-bake. 

Marshmallow Rose Frosting

3/4 cup butter
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 cup marshmallow fluff
1 tablespoon cream
1 teaspoon rose water extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 jar maraschino cherries with stems
5 g raspberry disco dust

In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat butter with a hand mixer for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Add in marshmallow fluff and blend for a minute until combined. Gradually add in powdered sugar at a low speed until incorporated. At this point you can add in a splash of cream to get a creamier frosting texture, just make sure to not add much at a time. it quickly loosens the frosting texture. When you get desired consistency, beat in rose water and vanilla. Frosting is best used immediately but can be refrigerated for an hour or so. Use a large frosting tip to swirl the marshmallow frosting on top of each cupcakes. Top with a maraschino cherry. Disco dust optional (but awesome).