Sprinkles Red Velvet Copycat Cupcakes

Copycat recipes: how do you feel about them?

Optimistic? Pessimistic? Do they work?

According to this picture, I would have to say no. At least for this Sprinkles red velvet copycat recipe:

But um, that was because we forgot a cup of flour when I first made them with my super adorable freshman. And so with just a piddly 1/3 cup of flour, the puddles of sugar-soaked grease sank back into themselves, leaving only crusty rings around the top of the cupcake holders for evidence that they had once risen, before bubbling back down into greasy submission. All the baking powder in the world couldn’t hold those babies up without some flour support.

My friend (you’ve met her before–“S”) kept asking how we could make such a huge oversight and my only excuse is that since Sprinkles cupcakes are, you know, SPRINKLES CUPCAKES, the batter might look different. As in more runny. With streaks of butter.

Hold up. Can we just talk about Sprinkles for a second? HO-LY cupcake. I am in awe of this monstrosity of a cupcake chain that has spawned hundreds of shop-a-likes all over the country. How can tiny cups of cake possibly cost $3.50? And how are people buying them by the ATM-ful?

Convenience, presentation and portion size all play a fair role, I’m sure. But taste-wise…Sprinkles is just out of my ballpark. 99.9% of my creations don’t come anywhere CLOSE to the moist and tender darlings that they pop out of their kitchen on a daily basis. And even though I don’t theoretically support the idea of making people unhealthy by feeding the masses sugar, fat and chocolate one cup-sized paper holder at a time, I have enough thriftiness in me to want to be able to recreate them at home JUST BECAUSE I CAN.

Needless to say, I tried them again.

And this time, I had a REAL LIVE SPRINKLES CUPCAKE ON HAND. Just to be accurate, you know. Purely for comparison’s sake.

Obviously the coconut cream cheese frosting was a little distracting, but it was clear by the time I had unwrapped both wrappers…

…dug my fork in…

…and taken a bite that they were nowhere near the same. Not even close.

Sad. Day.

The Sprinkles red velvet has a very moist, very fine crumb and is a dark, luscious red. The crumb texture is so tight yet tender that it’s almost silky. There’s a clear underlying tang that takes a quiet but present backseat note to the subtle but rich chocolate flavor.

The copycat red velvet is slightly springier and less plush-crumbly. Even though I had to set the cupcakes out on paper towels because grease was leaking through the paper wrappers onto the cupcake tin, they were still dryer than the Sprinkles cupcakes, and the crumb was bigger and more airy (okay, probably partly due to my white whole wheat flour). The chocolate flavor wasn’t as rich or deep (probably due to the supermarket quality of my cocoa powder), although the buttermilk tang was definitely there.

Not only were these not close to Sprinkles Red Velvet, but I wouldn’t even say they’re the best red velvet I’ve made. Which is a shame, because the pictures on the original blog’s website look truly awesome. Perhaps I took another wrong turn in the recipe?


I am determined to get it right, so here’s what I’m going to try next time:

  • Oil instead of butter. I don’t know why I didn’t remember this before, but when making my red velvet cheesecake brownie cake, I read multiple bake offs where oil-based cakes clearly won over butter-based cakes. Sprinkles cupcakes also seem like they are oil-based anyway, not butter.
  • Cake or pastry flour. And NOT whole wheat of any kind. If I’m going to make something nutritionally horrific, I guess I might as well do it right. And only eat ONE (instead of half of one…and then another half…and another half.) I’m learning moderation, people.
  • More quality cocoa powder. I mean that as in MORE quantity-wise as well as MOAR BETTER…better quality cocoa powder. As someone wise once said, “You can’t turn sweet honey iced tea into gold.”
  • Whole milk for sure. I used whole milk in this recipe, but was tempted to use Almond Breeze. However, this “official” strawberry cupcake recipe from Candace Nelson uses whole milk, so it seems like a Sprinkles staple. Then again, I haven’t tried this recipe and this also uses butter which means (a) it could be not good and (b) I could be totally wrong about getting better results with oil.

I don’t really care if I’m right or wrong, I just want to make these again!

Sprinkles Red Velvet Copycat Cupcakes
Tweaked from Cooking Classy

Yield: Approximately 14 cupcakes.

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, firm but not cold*
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp red food coloring
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp distilled white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1) In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and baking soda; set aside. Combine milk and vinegar; set aside.

2) In a separate large mixing bowl, with an electric hand mixer on medium speed, whip together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time stirring after each addition.

If you don’t have a hand mixer, soften the butter in microwave for 10-15 seconds until you can whip by hand with the sugar.

3) Add red food coloring and vanilla extract and mix until combined.  Add milk mixture and flour mixture to butter mixture, alternating in two separate batches, mixing until combined after each addition. Divide batter evenly among paper lined muffin cups, filling each cup about 2/3 full.

4) Bake in preheated oven 17-20 minutes until toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool about 2 minutes in muffin tin, then transfer to wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to an airtight container to cool completely (this helps them retain more moisture).

If you don’t have a wire rack, set on a double layer of paper towels on your counter to soak up excess grease before transferring to an airtight container.

Soon, I’ll show you what we did with the leftover cupcakes! Hint: it’s creamy, crumb-y, and DELICIOUS!

Nutrition facts (per 1/12 recipe): 240 cal, 13g fat (7.9g sat), 0.8g fiber, 17.4g sugar, 3.2g protein

7 responses to “Sprinkles Red Velvet Copycat Cupcakes

  1. Pingback: Pancake Fridays: Tarte Tatin Pancakes | The Pancake Princess and the Protein Prince·

  2. At a former job, one of my friends would go pick up Sprinkles cup cakes for our department meetings. They were the most yummy things I have ever eaten. Then, one time she bought the Sprinkles mix…apparently they sell it somewhere. It comes with mix for the icing too. She brought the ones she made and they tasted exactly the same. Maybe some how you could get your hands on the recipe for that mix!

    • That’s such a good idea!!! I’ve seen the mix for sale a million times at my local Sprinkles but I didn’t even think about that. Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

      Your blog looks super cool–I loved your Vegas dos and don’t–you got some good ones!

  3. Pingback: Red Velvet Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream « The Pancake Princess and the Protein Prince·

  4. Don’t worry, Princess. I’ve had many misses in my kitchen but like you, it’s only made me more determined to get it right. I actually really enjoy writing about my epic fails – it keeps things interesting 😉 And in my opinion, your cupcake looks pretty darn good!

    • Why thank you 🙂 I’m glad you think so because that would make my kitchen an epic-ly interesting place instead of just a magnet for flops!

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