In a large bowl, whisk together cake and pastry flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda; set aside.
In another small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, egg, food colouring and vanilla. Pour over flour mixture and whisk until smooth and well-combined.
Divide batter among greased or paper-lined mini muffin tins and bake in preheated 350 F (180 C) oven for about 15 minutes or until toothpick in centre comes out clean. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.
Italian Meringue Frosting: In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Let mixture boil for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. While beating, add the hot sugar syrup in a steady stream and beat for about 5 minutes or until glossy stiff peaks form. Beat in vanilla.
Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with gold flakes or sugar as desired.
TIP : Once frosted, store cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored at room temperature for up to 4 days or frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. If you don’t have buttermilk, sour milk easily to use as a substitute. For this recipe stir together ½ cup (125 mL) milk and 1½ tsp (7 mL) lemon juice and let stand for a few minutes before using to thicken.