Red Velvet Cheesecake Cupcakes

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Red Velvet Cheesecake Cupcakes
Red Velvet Cheesecake Cupcakes by Angela Roberts

Someone asked me yesterday if there was any food I didn’t eat. “Not too many, I’ll eat almost anything.” I replied. I did turn down chicken hearts a few weeks ago, but what most gets a reaction for me are food combinations.

A dish could contain two ingredients I like separately,  but I can’t eat them together. I once was served a chocolate cake with dates in the middle and it was a no go for me. I can’t eat pineapple on pizza and I can’t eat onions with any fish ever.   Where do these feelings come from?

Several places.   Association with good or bad memories. Association with People. Association with food culture of the family. Strength of the ingredient’s taste, flavor, smell, texture. All of these combine to give us our “food story.”

Food smells and textures are programmed into our memory and can result in intense sensory reactions, good or bad. The psychology of food aversions is fascinating,  because the center of the brain that records smell can make the wrong associations.

Food can be associated with an event.  Perhaps you received  bad news when you  were eating a cinnamon roll and now you can’t stand cinnamon and you don’t know why. Smelling cinnamon or even thinking about cinnamon can make you feel badly.

Another important component in food memories is  the context in which it was eaten. Whom you ate your food with creates an experience that lodges into the pain/pleasure center, and often chefs become chefs because of happy food memories. Of course, that can work in the opposite way, too, which is why some people might not be very food centered.

I don’t relate easily to people that can take or leave food, or don’t cook, because my happiness as a child revolved around food. Moving from school to school, house to house, parent to parent, the only time I felt secure was at the dinner table or at a restaurant as my family protected those memories.

Vanilla is Sexy

There is one flavor that is universally adored for its intoxicating fragrance. Vanilla. Part of the  lore of vanilla is its association with romance and its supposed properties as an aphrodisiac. Women used to dab it behind their ears and on their wrists. Men put vanilla beans in their hats to enhance their sexual performance. In fact, many perfume companies use vanilla because they know it makes people feel amorous.

Try this. Go into the cabinet and take a good long whiff of vanilla. It’s earthy, sweet, sultry and hits the pleasure center. It makes you want to order dessert and get romantic at the same time. The next time company comes, simmer a pot of water with vanilla and cinnamon and orange zest. It’s very inviting.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cupcakes

Heilala Vanilla

I was sent a very high quality Heilala vanilla paste from New Zealand. Heilala vanilla began as a project to aid the Vava u Islands in the kingdom of Tonga, which was  hit by a cyclone in 2002. It is grown is organic soil, hand pollinated and dried under the Pacific sun before heading to Tauranga, for processing.  I am now a vanilla paste convert. While vanilla beans are wonderful, there is no scraping, no drying out, and the flavor is absolutely incredible. You can make these with vanilla extract, or vanilla beans, but if you can, try vanilla paste, I highly recommend it.

The first thing I used it for was this espresso frosting. The combination of espresso and vanilla was so good, I made it again a few days later.Black Bottom Cupcakes

I combined two recipes from the Loveless Cafe Dessert cookbook, which never lets me down.

In today’s recipe,  I combined two big childhood favorites, red velvet  and vanilla cheesecake. Not only do the flavors marry well, the red and white are just too pretty. The original idea came from black bottom cupcakes. I used the red velvet cake recipe from here  (half for 12 cupcakes) instead of my black bottom cupcakes.

These are the perfect cupcake to take to a party, because you don’t have to worry about  frosting getting messed up, which has happened to me just about every time I try to transport cupcakes. These are a little easier to navigate and don’t require a fork. And, they are pretty!

Deliciously, red velvet. You know I love red velvet as I devoted a whole board in Pinterest to it. You’ll love it.

Make these red velvet cheesecake cupcakes and do use good vanilla.

For this recipe, you need the red velvet cake batter. Use your own or just half this red velvet cake recipe here.

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  2. I had to stop by and tell you I was so glad you shared this recipe at our #ShineaSpotlightSaturday Linky Party. These look so easy to make and the story behind them is wonderful. Be sure to stop by this Saturday and share another great post! –Deb at

  3. I can’t eat chicken and cheese together (like chicken alfredo or chicken pizza) or chicken w/any type of tomato based product (ketchup, marinara, spaghetti sauce). Separately – these items are fine, but togehter…ICK! I’m sick thinking about it!

    1. That makes me think if ham in macaroni and cheese. I get sick thinking about it. Funny, how strong our reactions can be with just the thought of certain foods. I don’t do chicken pizza either and I don’t like any kind of chicken in pasta.

  4. Ooh I have some of that vanilla bean paste and it’s wonderful! Interesting to read about your no-go food combos too Angela! I find it hard to relate to people that don’t care about food. It’s something to look forward to every day. Although I did marry one (but it’s my life’s work to convert him 😉 ).

  5. These look delectable! I see vanilla in the cream cheese but not in the recipe, how much goes in? Really looking forward to making these…and eating them

  6. Angela, you have me yearning for one of your very vanilla cupcakes. I have a love of vanilla and have all sorts from various countries. I am also brewing my own in my closet which should be ready to decant very soon. Vanilla scent makes me happy, makes me feel safe and cozy and homey. Thanks for this very lovely post.

  7. No fruit in my salad or on my pizza either! I love vanilla paste and often have to stop myself from substituting it for extract. These red velvet cheesecake cupcakes are gorgeous!

  8. I love chocolate and gruits, but I could not eat them together (unless with pears)… Taste is something really special. A great post.

    Those cupcakes look so tempting!



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