Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 24 mini muffin cups or line with paper.
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 prepared muffin cups.
Bake in the preheated 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.
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 1/2 cup milk and 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice and let stand for a few minutes before using to thicken.