Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Strawberry Valentines

Happy Valentine's Day!  I am definitely one of those people who takes their holidays seriously, and Valentine's day is no exception.  Seriously, it is a day to celebrate all of the people you love, wear pink and red, and eat ungodly amounts of chocolate (and cupcakes).  Because, well, it couldn't be Valentine's Day in the Cupcake Suite without cupcakes.

Last year I lived in a building with no kitchen- all we had to work with was a microwave.  So last year on Valentine's day I made chocolate covered strawberries with my friends.  This year I decided to stick with the same theme, but take it up a couple notches.  So I made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate covered strawberries on top and strawberry cupcakes with a swiss meringue buttercream.  Everything was divine- the fact that nearly all thirty cupcakes were consumed this evening stands as proof.

For the strawberry cupcakes I adapted the Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcake recipe.  They came out beautifully- light and fluffy with a hint of strawberry.  Perfectly pink for Valentine's!

Strawberry Cupcakes
Makes 12-15 cupcakes

1 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries, minced
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature
red food coloring

Place the minced strawberries in a small saucepan and reduce over low heat, stirring often, until the consistency of jam.  Set aside to cool.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and eggs, beating on low until combined.  Add the flour in two batches, alternating with the milk, making sure to mix completely after each addition.  Stir in the strawberry mix.

Fill 12-15 cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter.  Bake at 350 for 16-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

For the frosting, I followed Sweetapolita's Swiss Meringue Buttercream guide.  I divided the recipe she gives by four, and it made enough for my fifteen cupcakes and a little extra.  This frosting is pure airy, buttery goodness.  Seriously, you need to make it.

I also went with my classic Black Magic Chocolate Cupcakes.  They are a staple here in the cupcake suite.  It's hard to go wrong with chocolate, and this is hands down the best chocolate cupcake I've had.  They are also ridiculously easy.

Black Magic Chocolate Cupcakes
(Makes 18-24 cupcakes)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup strong coffee
1 cup buttermilk

Stir together flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk.
Stir in the vanilla, eggs, oil, coffee, and buttermilk until blended and then beat with an electric mixer on medium for 2 minutes. Batter will be soupy. Pour into cupcake cups.
Bake 20-24 minutes at 350 degrees- or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the frosting (and the chocolate for the strawberries) I used a super simple chocolate ganache.  All you really need to do is microwave some chocolate chips with a splash of heavy cream.  Make sure to mix it well to let the chocolate completely melt.  Then you can spoon in onto the cupcakes and dip the strawberries.

And voila!  You have a lovely Valentine's Day dessert!


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