Not Martha

Red Velvet Cupcakes in jars

holding up a samll jar filled with red velvet cake

I never showed you the pictures of the red velvet cupcakes I baked back in May! I baked them in, wait for it, jars. I made these for two bake sales that just happened to be on the same day, so I made a whole lot of them. I used the Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe from Pinch My Salt. I made two batches and filled 48 four-ounce jars. I think there might have been batter left over, maybe? It seems like it was so long ago, but I can tell you for certain that I filled four dozen jars.

cupcake in a jar

I filled the jars about 1/3rd of the way full with batter, after baking this left enough room at the top of the jar for frosting and sprinkles. (I do wish I’d bought larger jars, four ounces seemed so itty once I got them home.)

clean jars set out to dry

There is something very satisfying about rows and rows of brand new and just cleaned jars.

cream cheese and butter set out to soften

Know what I need to remember to do? Keep track of which cubes of butter come from the same stick when I cut them up to allow them to soften. I made two separate batches and just sort of had to guess how much was half the butter. Oops. For the record I have seven cutting boards and I never think I have too many.

jars on silpats

I finally bought myself some sheet pans that are the right size to hold my Silpats. The Silpats help keep the jars from sliding around. I tossed my other odd-sized (and badly mistreated) baking sheets and have not missed them. Apparently I need seven cutting boards but can get by just fine with two jelly roll pans.

red food coloring and cocoa, looking grisly

The red food coloring looks crime scene-y. Know how much food coloring goes into each batch? A lot. I think my brain didn’t comprehend how much it would take so I ended up doing a last minute run to the grocery store for more. (There is always one thing that makes me end up at a grocery store at 11 p.m. I don’t mind though, grocery stores at odd hours can be an adventure.)

cutout circle for the top of the jar

I traced the jar lids onto paper, scanned the circles into Photoshop, designed and printed out labels on cardstock and cut the circles out by hand. (Scott helped, he’s awesome. He also helped pipe frosting and sprinkle red nonpareils more artfully than I did.) These labels were cut to fit just between the layers of the jar lids so they wouldn’t require any adhesive to keep them in place, making the jars easy to wash and reuse. The other side of the label lists the ingredients. I included some small spoons attached to the jars with silver elastic cords that I bought at a packaging supply store. My favorite thing to use the little jars for is to shake just enough vinaigrette for two, three or four salads. I also save seeds in them. (The Canary Bird Vine will live to see another year!)

I always have nightmares that I’ve misspelled something on a label. Creme cheese frosting? Cram cheese frosting? Cream chese frosting? Cream cheese frosing? This keeps me up at night.

· comments [60] · 06-28-2011 · categories:food ·

60 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Helen // Jun 28, 2011 at 2:23 am

    These look so gorgeous!!

    But I have two questions: is it important which stick of butter the cubes come from? I’m never organized enough to keep track of this kind of thing.

    Aaaaand, how long will a cake with frosting keep? I always made the cakes without frosting, so they can keep for a couple of months. But for gift giving it would be so much nicer if I made them to eat right away.

  • 2 J // Jun 28, 2011 at 4:13 am

    Hello. I just got home from the gym and googled “lose weight slowly”. As luck would have it, I found your blog and read your entry from 2009 (I think) about your elliptical and kale and Gilmore Girls. I love that the first line was something like, “I lost 25 pounds this year.” For me, it is 20 and I was looking for a little new inspiration. Thank you for that! Of course, then I just read about the gorgeous red velvet cake in jars… but I will fight the temptation. Just wanted to say thanks for the help today.

  • 3 Jen // Jun 28, 2011 at 4:51 am

    Just some curious questions that I’m sure others have…

    How much does a project like this cost (ingredients, jars, adorable spoons, printing, etc), and how much did these cute little guys sell for at the bake sale?

  • 4 Amy // Jun 28, 2011 at 5:04 am

    Haha! That was what I was going to ask too. A church I went to while on vacation was advertising a “no-bake bake sale”. They just asked for the money you would have spent making the stuff and a donation for what you would have spent if you bought a treat at the stand. Umm-what?

  • 5 Leslie S. // Jun 28, 2011 at 5:07 am

    Fantastic! Where did you get the little jars? Thanks for the post. =)

  • 6 Jen // Jun 28, 2011 at 5:29 am

    …A church I went to while on vacation was advertising a “no-bake bake sale”…

    Now THAT is just depressing. All questions of costs aside, the world is just a better place with baked goods.

  • 7 Debra Cooper // Jun 28, 2011 at 5:31 am

    What a great idea! I had no idea you could put canning jars in the oven. Such a perfect item to sell and to give as a special gift. I think I’ll give it a try.
    I assume to bake at normal cake/cupcake temperature? Thanks for sharing.

  • 8 Meaghan // Jun 28, 2011 at 6:14 am

    I love love love these (thinking about them for welcome bags @ my wedding) and I also obsess over possible misspellings.

    Have you seen My Drunk Kitchen (NSFW)? Specifically the cookie episode? http://youtu.be/qTyotI3IHFQ “At this point in the process, I can only assume they made a typo, and instead of cream they meant cram.”

  • 9 tj // Jun 28, 2011 at 6:23 am

    …I love, love, LOVE this! I need to know tho’, the oven temp? And how long did you bake them? And if you don’t mind, sharing how much you sold these for at the bake sale, please? :o)

    …My fav’ photo out of the bunch? 5th one down; the butter, the eggs, the clean, fresh little jars – sheer heaven!

    …I am selling my coleslaw dressing to help save our old barn and am doing the same thing with the label for the top of the jar. Only thing, I didn’t think of putting the ingredients list on the other side of the label – great idea! Also, I purchased a 2 1/2 in. round craft punch to punch out the circles for the jar tops…nifty huh? ;o)

    …Thank you so much for sharing this!

    …Blessings… :o)

  • 10 Saple // Jun 28, 2011 at 6:29 am

    I could not figure out why you had cut up the butter, I missed the to soften part and was trying to figure out if you were mixing each cupcake by hand ,…. it’s early I was confused

  • 11 Michelle // Jun 28, 2011 at 6:56 am

    I love the great packing job you did – the spoon is a great touch along with adhesive free labels. You ROCK!

  • 12 Alicia // Jun 28, 2011 at 7:17 am

    I love the non-sticky label idea, totally stealing it for my own in-house labeling. I bet the jars with batter would freeze well enough, which could work for those of us unable to give up baked goods but trying to keep our portions under control.

  • 13 Andie // Jun 28, 2011 at 7:53 am

    I thought I was the only one who found clean glass jars satisfying. I wholeheartedly agree with you!

  • 14 Regina // Jun 28, 2011 at 8:44 am

    These look divine! What font did you use for the labels? It’s very pretty!

  • 15 megan // Jun 28, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Helen – I’m afraid I don’t know how long the frosting will keep. We made these the night before the bake sale and I sealed them and put them in the fridge overnight.

    J – You can do it! Sugar cravings are difficult but if you eat well you’ll find it’s easier to turn down desserts. And remember, it’s not forever.

    Jen – The jars were about $1 each, I think the box of 12 was $11. The bake sales sold them for about $5.

    Amy – I can see that making sense in somebody’s head, but where is the fun of the baking and the shopping and the reason for visiting with people while discussing the cute baked goods?

    Leslie – I got the jars at my grocery store. They are usually near the supplies for grilling, or with the canned goods. Not, strangely, near the tin foil and plastic wrap.

    Debra – You are correct, I baked these at 325 or 350.

    Michelle – I was hoping to find these

    Meaghan – Hee! I have not seen all the way through that episode!

    TJ – I baked these at the same temperature the recipe calls for, as though I were making cupcakes. I don’t recall for how long, basically until the testing stick came out clean :) I think the bake sales charged $5 for them.

    Michelle – I was hoping to find these Bambu sporks shown there at Cool Hunting. I looked everywhere but didn’t have time to order them online!

    Alicia – I didn’t try freezing and then baking the cake batter, but I have frozen little pies in jars before with no trouble.

    Andie – Yes!

  • 16 megan // Jun 28, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Regina – I have no idea what font it is, I’ve searched on my computer and cannot find it. I do know it was a free font that I downloaded that evening. I wish I could at least remember where I grabbed it from.

  • 17 Nana // Jun 28, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Jars (and tops) can sometimes be found at Thrift Shops … or through Freecycle. Especially since these don’t require a substantial ‘seal,’ it’s a perfect use for less-than-perfect tops.

  • 18 linda // Jun 28, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Fantastic idea, I have to try it!! I love that you can eat this neatly while getting a good amount of icing to each bite.

    And the labels – so cute.

  • 19 Kayla // Jun 28, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Very awesome. One of the best ideas floating around right now. I have been wanting some new ideas for gift packages, and although I don’t think these would make it all the way across country during this summer heat, it gives me a lot of fun ideas :) Thanks!

  • 20 Bubbles // Jun 28, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Why not cut the butter into tablespoons or so to soften? Then you can just measure, and not worry about which is from what stick. Or am I missing some secret baking voodoo?
    Also, never enough cutting boards! Cutting boards forever! And that is brilliant about using the little jars to make salad dressing. I will be stealing that.

  • 21 Emira // Jun 28, 2011 at 11:28 am

    The amount of red food colouring in red velvet cake totally freaks me out. The first time I made it I was astounded, in that way that the totally obvious is sometimes mind blowing. You’d think that knowing there was chocolate in there it would be obvious that it would take a lot of red dye to overpower the brown… but not to me. Every time I make it I wonder who the heck decided it would be a good idea to try to make chocolate cake red, but then it is delicious and one of my favourites so there we go.

  • 22 Ashley Blossom // Jun 28, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I’m dying to make these. Although, I have a secret family red cake recipe that does not use the typical cream cheese frosting.

    Maybe next time try a light, vanilla whipped frosting on top of the dense red cake :)
    Just as delish!

  • 23 megan // Jun 28, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Bubbles – Simply because I don’t plan that far ahead :)

  • 24 Seanna Lea // Jun 28, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    I love this. I might have to do something similar to this with brownies or some other sweet treat and give them away as gifts for the holidays this year.

  • 25 Lenore // Jun 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Font looks like Canterbury Old Style. Lovely.

  • 26 megan // Jun 28, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Seanna Lea – Do! it’s fun.

    Lenore – Thank you!

  • 27 Bridgit // Jun 28, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    @Ashley Blossom – my family always uses the cooked vanilla frosting on our red velvet cakes. Some people call it “Gravy frosting”, which sounds horrible, but you do start by basically making a white sauce.

  • 28 EB // Jun 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    love this idea! perfect for holidays/presents etc.

  • 29 Jacquie // Jun 29, 2011 at 12:38 am

    wow, just wow!! my mouth is watering… it looks wonderful!

  • 30 christine // Jun 29, 2011 at 3:03 am

    you are my hero. those tiny spoons are too cute! and i need new baking sheets that my silpat fit in too.

  • 31 Emily // Jun 29, 2011 at 7:51 am

    I copied this last year and made a Bit of Banana Cake for a bridal shower and the bride was thrilled! Such a fantastic idea. Thank you!!

  • 32 Annapet // Jun 29, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Wow, what a wonderful idea and yummy cake! I will definitely make this!

  • 33 jaclyn @ thelateafternoon // Jun 30, 2011 at 1:10 am

    such cute packaging for these delicious looking cupcakes! red velvet is one of my favorites! the little spoon is also such a great touch!

  • 34 Lydia // Jun 30, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I absolutely love this idea! I also was surprised at how much food coloring can go into a batch of red velvet cake – I made cupcakes a few months ago and was very nervous about spilling red dye all over the kitchen!

  • 35 Sue // Jun 30, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I know what you mean about the labels! It never fails that when I don’t triple or quadruple check a label I print 50 of them and THEN find the typo….cram cheese…hahahaaa. Glad I’m not alone in this. However, people usually forgive the error once they’ve tasted what’s inside!

  • 36 Annemarie // Jun 30, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    How did you seal the jars? These are so adorable, and look yummy!

  • 37 megan // Jun 30, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Annemarie – These aren’t meant to be kept so I don’t seal them, I simply put on the lid when the cake has cooled and the frosting has been added. I’ve read lots of advice that it’s very dangerous to try to seal baked goods for the purpose of preservation so I don’t attempt it :)

  • 38 Kristi @ 30 Pounds of Apples // Jun 30, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    These are really clever! Great novelty item for bake sales, and I bet they are tasty as well. I love your use of small jars, even though they seem small… they probably have about as much cake as a cupcake.

  • 39 Annemarie // Jun 30, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    That makes perfect sen to me. So glad I saw your beautiful cupcakes just in time for the Fourth of July…. Think I/ll top them with a fwe fresh blueberries ; )

  • 40 Annemarie // Jun 30, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    ..and spell check : /

  • 41 megan // Jun 30, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Annemarie – Hee hee, no trouble!

  • 42 Angela Watts // Jun 30, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    4oz jelly jars are under $8 a dozen from walmart.
    I normally slice the butter but keep it in rows. One row=one stick.
    I recently tried the cooked vanilla frosting for my red velvet cake and my husband loved it, important as he is not a sweets type.

  • 43 Mel // Jul 1, 2011 at 6:00 am

    When baking in the jar, did you coat the inside with anything to help with sticking? I’ll be doing this soon (thinking about using a 1/2 pint for a little extra room)

  • 44 megan // Jul 1, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Mel – These are made to be eaten straight out of the jar so I didn’t coat the insides of the jar with anything. Some baking spray (the stuff with flour) would be idea if you’re going to remove them, but keep in mind the spray will also make a mess on the outsides of the jar, so if you do want to release the cakes I recommend using large muffin tins instead!

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  • 47 mary // Jul 5, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    These are the sweetest little treats! What lovely favors they would make at a party. Thanks for sharing your great idea!
    Mary

  • 48 Cuckoo // Jul 8, 2011 at 7:34 am

    My husband loves red velvet cake. I think He would love these cute little cakes. I’m thinking what I could make them for. His B’day is Monday, but He does not “do” B’day parties. so…

  • 49 Nadine // Jul 10, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Do you mind sharing your recipe for the red velvet cake in jars?? and where do you buy the small spoons they are so cute!

  • 50 megan // Jul 10, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Nadine – The link to the recipe is up there in the first paragraph of the entry. The little spoons I found at Uwijamaya, a huge Asian grocery store here in Seattle.

  • 51 Stephanie // Jul 14, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    I actually seal the jars and send to my husband in Afghanistan :) They keep for up to 6 months!!! I do not frost them though ….

  • 52 Dana // Jul 25, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    I found a recipe for these in a DIY wedding book, so that’s exactly what I’m doing. Thanks for the pics and recipe link…they look delicious!!! I’m wondering if I could find a recipe that uses beet juice instead of the enormous amount of red food dye, though. Wonder if they’d bake up okay in jars. If I try, I’ll let you know! Love your site, BTW. :)

  • 53 Archena // Aug 16, 2011 at 11:53 am

    You can relax – you spelled every word on the label correctly.

    Great blog!

  • 54 Jakki // Oct 13, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    These are the cutest :3 I’ve always wanted to have a go making these cupcakes in jars…I’m just scared of the glass exploding in the hot oven!!

  • 55 Deb Amrine // Oct 27, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    I love this idea. I make a black bottom cupcake that is a family favorite. My son has requested I serve them at the rehearsal dinner for his wedding. I think I will try baking them in jars. Do you think the 8oz quilted jars will work?
    Thanks for sharing your fun ideas!

  • 56 megan // Oct 27, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I think 8 ounce jars would be great for this. If you frost the cupcakes be sure to only fill the jars 1/3rd or 1/2 of the way full with batter so that once the cupcake is baked you’ll still have enough room in the top of the jar for the frosting. Wishes for a very wonderful day to your son!

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  • 58 jeff lanham // Jan 24, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    hi martha i’m jeff i think you’re idea for cupcakes in a jar is a really sweet idea

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