Growing up, my mother’s holiday baking was a mystery to me. Not because she was secretive about her recipes, but because I have long been too impatient to bake. She’d bust out the mixer, and I’d be distracted by a sibling, a TV show, a random thought and vanish from the kitchen before you can say “buttercream.” (Though of course I’d reappear to lick the beaters clean.) This is how it came to be that I am nearly 35, and have never in my life made a cupcake. But feeling confident off my success of Hello Fresh, I took a reader’s suggestion (H/T some1105) and tried Red Velvet NYC, a subscription service that ships their recipes and required ingredients so customers might make unique tasty treats on their own.
I reached out to Red Velvet NYC, requesting a review box. CEO & Co-Founder Agathe Assouline-Lichten responded right away, eager to share their wares and a special offer for Pajiba readers. (Details on that below!)
How It Works
Red Velvet NYC allows you to either sign up for a a subscription, which sends two bake kits per month for $49, or purchase an individual kit on their desserts page, where prices begin at $26. Assouline-Lichten recommended I try one of their most popular holiday treats, offering me a choice between Pumpkin Cupcakes or their soon-to-be available Candy Cane Cupcakes. I can take or leave pumpkin as a flavor, so I favored the latter, which feature “chocolate cake with peppermint buttercream frosting and mini candy cane sprinkles.” Within a couple of days, the box was at my door, complete with perishables (milk and butter, not pictured) and ice packs to keep them cool.
How It Went
The box that arrived was festive, and the contents festooned with a lovely red ribbon. The ingredients were already measured, and doled out in dime-bags of baking soda and more generous bags of flour, sugar, and cocoa powder. The package even included Red Velvet NYC cupcake holders and glittery reindeer and snowflake toppers, which adds a nice touch to their presentation. Everything was so neat and pretty I was giddy to start, but there was one problem.
Baking newb that I am, I didn’t own all the equipment needed to make cupcakes. I had to google “wire rack,” then McGyvered one by pulling a rack from my oven and topping it with aluminum foil. A sifter? My husband and I made do with a tiny tea strainer. It took ages, but it worked. The one thing we couldn’t get around—or more accurately refused to try getting around—was an electric mixer. As married people who had a wedding registry, we at some point owned one. Two in fact, because my mom became convinced the reason I don’t bake was a lack of mixer. But the last time we moved, I gave away both, as I hadn’t used them in nine years of owning them. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
One sprint to a local housewares shop later, we were good to go. The directions were pretty easy to follow, I worried over what seemed like subjective definitions: mix until “light and fluffy,” beat “until *just* combined,” beat until “pale and creamy.” In each instance I shoved my bowl in the face of my husband, who took Home Ec in high school. Once I got his approval, I went on to the next step. But really, I needn’t worry. Red Velvet NYC’s kit proved idiot-proof.
Despite the fact that I am notorious for screwing up the most basic baking projects (sugar cookies as tasteless coasters was an all-time low), I was victorious! I made cupcakes from scratch! I blended and baked. I piped on icing that I made. And when I was done, there were 24 damn fine looking treats! I was astonished with myself. But did they taste okay? Oh, they’re terrific! The cake itself is chocolaty, but not especially sweet; leave that to the icing that’s rich with a peppermint kick. I gave some to neighbors and to my Mister’s co-workers, and both were tricked into believing I’m a skilled baker! MWA HA HA!
Conclusion: Frankly, I’m enchanted. I’ve spend decades stubbornly ignorant of the ways of baking, and Red Velvet NYC taught me how to make cupcakes. And not just any cupcakes! These were legit delicious. So much so that I got real generous real fast so that I didn’t gobble them all down and food coma out hard. My only complaint is that the recipe card doesn’t clarify what the measurements for the ingredients are. Which would make repeating the recipe on your own a challenge. However, those details are outlined online. So if you like the recipes you try, just check the website for those details.
I imagine bakers would revel in Red Velvet NYC’s kits, which offer a wide array of options. But even if you’re not a baker, these are still fun and easy to manage. As soon as we finished, I began perusing the site to see what recipe would best suit a holiday party offering, or which might be a great and surprising gift for a sweet-toothed loved one. Yeah, you could just buy someone a cake or tart. But imagine the excitement they’d get out of making a beautiful baked good themselves? Imagine them going from newb to novice! Goofus to You Go Girl! Kristy last week to Kristy today!
Discount: Red Velvet NYC is offering Pajiba readers 15% off anything on their site, from individual dessert recipes, to subscription boxes, and cookware. They’ll be rolling out new holiday treats in the coming weeks. So take a look for what might be a fun addition to your Thanksgiving spread or a festive gift for the baked goods lover in your life. To access the discount, use the code “PAJIBA” at checkout.
Check out Subscription Addiction reviews for Level Up, Stitch Fix, Try The World, Darby Smart, Treatsie, Chococurb, Loot Crate, Candy Club, Blue Apron, Bright Cellars, Julep, Bright Cellars Cheese, CauseBox, Tasting Board, Box2Bake, and Hello Fresh. In the comments, tell us which subscription service you’d like to see reviewed next.