I think I’ve said it many times before, but I don’t fancy myself a baker. Don’t get me wrong — I love to bake, but while I’ve always understood how to adjust a savory recipe to make it mine, I’m totally at a loss as to how to “invent” a baked good recipe. There’s chemistry and math involved, and I’m really not good at either. Baking will always be a little bit of a mystery to me.
Last month a new startup called Red Velvet NYC reached out to me — they’re a baking kit service that sells pre-measured, prepackaged ingredients for various gourmet desserts, like red velvet cupcakes, panna cotta and lemon tarts. Besides the fact that their packaging and branding is super adorable, I thought that premade baking kits that use fresh ingredients is pretty much the most genius idea ever. All of the glory of being a home baker without any of the stress and fuss? Sold.
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Red Velvet NYC first sent me a green tea matcha cupcake kit to try. Green tea cupcakes are something I would never attempt on my own, and I loved the idea of making an Asian-influenced dessert with the kids, who are constantly begging me to bake with them. Like pretty much all kids ever, they love sugar and their mama. Of course, the order of priority of those two items is sometimes unclear and interchangeable.
On the day of our grand experiment, I unboxed our cupcake kit and found everything clearly labeled, along with a photographic step-by-step on how to assemble and bake the green tea cupcakes. This was going to be awesome.
The kids and I carefully mixed and poured equal portions of batter into the standalone baking cups provided in the cupcake kit. The instruction card told us that our cups should be 2/3rds full, but after we filled them accordingly we found ourselves with about 2 cups of batter leftover, so I unilaterally decided to divide the rest of the batter among the cups, filling them to about 3/4s full each. I think this may have been my fatal mistake, because the next thing I know, the recommended 25 minutes had passed and the cupcakes were still raw on the inside. Even worse, when I tested my cupcakes to see if they were done, a cool draft of kitchen air wafted into my oven when I closed it, and I found my cupcakes collapsing onto themselves. It was, in a word, ugly.
Distraught, I took a photo of my collapsed cupcakes (only three, pictured above, survived the chaos) and sent them to Red Velvet NYC. They were understandably perplexed and horrified that I’d had a less than stellar experience and immediately offered to send me a different kit. Not only that, but they went back into their test kitchen to see what went wrong. We put our heads together and decided I should try out their red velvet cupcake kit instead, which is their most popular dessert.
Guys, I’m sooo happy to report that these red velvet cupcakes are kind of everything. No, scratch that. They are literally ALL OF THE THINGS. They are moist and delicately sweet and the cream cheese frosting is sooo creamy and the cupcakes are gorgeous. I cannot emphasize how baller I felt when I rolled up to my son’s kindergarten class party and slid them across the buffet table with a flick of my hair like, “Oh these? Yes, I made these. FROM SCRATCH.” People were pawing at me for those cupcakes and eyeballing each other as eat-or-be-eaten competition. I loved it.
If I had any quibbles, it’s that the instruction cards don’t include the measurements of all the items you need to make the recipe again, like other cooking kits do. I think I’d be a repeat customer of Red Velvet NYC if I knew that I’d be expanding my repertoire of baking skills while eating delicious treats.
As for the kids and me, well, even though the whole batch of green tea cupcakes didn’t turn out perfectly, we loved the flavor anyway. The red velvet cupcakes didn’t last more than 24 hours. I still daydream about them.
So, do you want a chance to win a FREE dessert kit from Red Velvet NYC of your choice? Post a comment below on which kit you’d choose by Monday, June 13, 2016!
U.S. citizens and contestants over the age of 18 only. The number of eligible entries received determine the odds of winning.
Contest will run from June 8, 2016 to June 13, 2016.
The winner will be selected at random and notified by June 16, 2016. Within 24 hours of being contacted, the winner must provide their full name, their choice of dessert kit and a U.S. mailing address to receive the prize. By responding, the winner consents to having their name published on Grits & Chopsticks as the winner of the giveaway.
The prizes will ship directly from Red Velvet NYC. Grits & Chopsticks assumes no liability for the winner’s receipt of the prize or usage of the prize.
Void where prohibited by law.
Note: you can gain more entries by visiting my Instagram account and entering there as well! Find the picture of the red velvet cupcakes to find out details on how to enter here.