Velvet cupcakes

One big bite reveals a cupcake that's velvet-smooth, cocoa-scented and a subtle rusty red. Very good! (Photo by Bill Hogan)

1 cup sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon each: white vinegar, baking soda
Vanilla frosting, see recipe below

Sift flour, cocoa, salt together. Set aside.

Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Add egg; fluff. Add egg yolk; fluff. Add vanilla, fluff.

Add buttermilk in three parts, alternating with flour mixture. Mix just enough to blend.

Stir together vinegar and baking soda; mixture will fizz up. Mix into batter.

Pour batter into a 12-cupcake-capacity cupcake pan fitted with paper liners. Slide into a 350-degree oven and bake until springy, 12-15 minutes. Cool completely, then frost.

Adapted from "More From Magnolia," by Allysa Torey.

Vanilla frosting: Whisk 3 tablespoons flour and 1 cup whole milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until thick, 10 minutes. Cover and cool. Beat 2 sticks butter creamy. Pour in 1 cup sugar and beat fluffy, 3 minutes. Mix in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk mixture and beat on high until bright white. Chill.

Leah Eskin is a Tribune special contributor. Contact her at