For the cupcakes:
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
4 tablespoons no-taste red food coloring
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
For the vanilla cream cheese frosting:
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line 2 standard cupcake pans with paper baking cups.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar at medium speed for 3-5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Lower speed and add eggs, one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition. In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, red food coloring, and vanilla. On low speed, slowly add this to the stand mixer bowl, mixing until well incorporated. In a small bowl, combine salt and milk. On a low speed, alternate between adding a third of the flour, followed by a third of the milk, and mix. Repeat and mix until incorporated, and stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. In a small bowl, quickly stir baking soda and apple cider vinegar together (it will fizz!) then pour this reaction into the batter. Mix until just incorporated.
Using a standard-size, spring-release ice cream scooper, scoop batter into the lined cupcake pans so each well is 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting: In the bowl of an stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment; beat cream cheese and butter on medium to high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract. On a low speed, slowly mix in confectioners' sugar until well combined. Then beat on a high speed for at least 2 minutes to ensure a light and fluffy frosting.
Transfer frosting into a plastic piping bag fitted with a round metal tip. Make sure cupcakes are completely cooled before piping the frosting on each cupcake.