All of the key ingredients for a traditional red velvet cake—cocoa, buttermilk, vinegar, and red food coloring—are here in these colorful cupcakes. They will be a hit for Christmas, Valentine's Day, the Fourth of July, or any other special occasion where red and white are the colors of choice.
Place 12 paper muffin cup liners in muffin cups. Set aside.
Combine granulated sugar and shortening in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add egg; beat until creamy.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine buttermilk and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, stirring with a whisk just until smooth. Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350° for 16 to 18 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons Cream Cheese Frosting over tops of cupcakes.