The one where I bake cupcakes with little hearts in the middle…then top with a decadent dark chocolate ganache. Happy Valentine’s Day!”Posted by Donna on February 10th, 2012. Filed under: Journal.
Hello intrepid cupcake bakers!
I know, it’s been awhile! But I haven’t left the kitchen. I’ve been hard at work in the test kitchen, finalizing the recipes that will appear in the next Cupcake Club book…BABY CAKES (out this October.) So my life has been filled (and filled, and then s’more) with cupcakes, but I haven’t been able to share all that hard work here. BUT! Those recipes are done and ready to go, so I can finally come back and play with you all!
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so to celebrate the holiday, I decided to attempt a recipe I saw online: The Heart of a Cupcake cupcakes! Now, those of you who have been with me since the beginning of this journey, know that I can be somewhat…shall we say…challenged by the more complicated recipes. It has been said that I’m more Lucy Ricardo than Julia Child, and well, Lucy was probably a better baker, too, so I hate to disparage her like that! But, I’ve come a long way in the past year (because, frankly, what other direction could I have gone in, really?) So I figured, why not! Let’s DO THIS!
So….my results, perhaps not exactly on par with the original recipe I’d chosen to use. Not because there’s anything wrong with the recipe. Nooo, no, no. The recipe is great, and easy even. If…you know…you have the right tools. It’s just…me. Anyway, you’ll understand as we move onward. However, for the purposes of giving you a recipe and photos that will actually guide you toward cupcake nirvana, and not running screaming from your kitchen, I’m going to give you the recipe I found over on Desert Living as well as thank the chef, Amanda Szot, for letting me use her delightful and very useful photos, rather than…well, rather than mine.
Now, in her version, she used a frosting made with pink Laffy Taffy. Here’s the link to the site, so you can get that recipe, too, if you’ve a hankering for it! But, given this is the holiday that all but begs us to indulge in our inner chocolate diva, I had to top these fun cupcakes with a little decadence! Okay, okay…a LOT of decadence.
Oh yeah, we’re talking ganache. Dark Chocolate Ganache. Mmmmm. Because THAT? I can make. I mean, come on, it’s three ingredients. How badly could I screw that up? (Hey! I heard that! Rough crowd.)
I promise you, that regardless of how the results look, the taste? SO worth it!
So…here we go!
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
the seeds from half a vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla)
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cup flour
1 1/3 cup whole milk
red food coloring
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees (F) Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
1) Mix the butter and sugar together at medium speed for about 90 seconds, until fluffy.
2.Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until creamy. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl so everything gets well combined.
3.Add the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and vanilla and mix until the batter is smooth.
4.Finally, alternate between the flour and milk, beating on med-high speed until the batter is light and creamy.
NOTE: So…about vanilla beans. I was just going to sub vanilla extract, but hey, I’m trying to learn here, so off I went on the hunt for vanilla beans. And, if you can find them, definitely give it a try! Really rich, full flavor!
5.Pour a little more than 1/3 of the batter (about a cup and a half) into a smaller bowl.
6. Add red food coloring until you get your desired pink or red color.
7. Pour the batter into a non-stick (or lightly greased) 8×8 baking pan and bake for about 20 minutes until the edges of the cake start to turn golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
8.Allow to cool completely. Once the cake is cool, loosen the edges away from the pan with a knife and then invert the pan onto a cutting board.
9. Use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out a dozen cake hearts that are small enough to fit into an average-sized cupcake pan.
Right. So…I was good until I got this point. Now, I had the photos. Looks simple. How cute are they, all dunked in the cupcake batter! I knew I needed a little heart cookie cutter. And I had a little heart cookie cutter. Well..it looked little to me! Turns out you need a TINY heart cookie cutter. Compared to the muffin cups, mine where like the Red Cake Hearts that Ate Manhattan! The King Kong of red cake hearts. Anyway, you get my drift. So…when shopping for your heart cookie cutter, take a paper muffin cup with you for guidance. Just sayin! Now…back to our recipe….
10. Spoon two heaping tablespoons of the remaining batter into paper-lined cupcake tins, so they’re about half-full. Put one heart into each tin and press it point down into the batter.
Okay, just to be clear: HERE IS THE PART YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO!
11. Keep all the hearts facing forward in the pan. !!!! Seriously, do this.
12. Cover with another teaspoon of batter
13. Bake for 24 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool before frosting.
14.Here’s where it gets a bit tricky.
Oh, she is SO not kidding! Sure, sure, I kept the hearts facing toward the short end of the pan when I stuck them in. Easy right? Ether end of the pan, doesn’t matter. However!! When you take the cupcakes out of the pan you need to put them on the rack in the same direction.
Right. So easy, and yet? Epic fail on my part. I cut through three of them, trying to figure out how the hearts went, and, well, I’m just trashing cupcakes, essentially. Hopeless.
15. You need to keep the cupcakes facing forward so you get the right cross-section of the heart when you cut or bite into the cupcake (to get the full heart effect). After frosting, put heart candy on them (or some other decoration) that can also face forward so you know which way to cut the cupcake in order to see the heart shape inside (if you cut the heart in the wrong direction you just get a rectangle shape—not very romantic!).
Dark Chocolate Ganache:
1 lb bittersweet chocolate, chopped (use semi sweet if bitter’s not for you)
1 pint heavy cream
5 ounces unsalted butter
1) Bring cream and butter to a simmer.
2) Pour over chocolate and stir/whisk until melted and smooth.
Seriously. Even I can do it. You can let cool and thicken a bit before frosting the cupcakes. You can also dip the cupcake tops in the ganache and swirl when it’s still soft, but then good luck in figuring out which way your hearts go! I recommend the cooling process first, then frost as usual.
And then?? Sink in! It’s worth every bite!
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
Oh, and don’t forget, there’s a contest going on over at my regular Big Time Author Blog. We’re giving away both Cupcake Club books (SUGAR RUSH & SWEET STUFF…check out the links above to learn more!) and Valentine baking goodies! You have to hurry though. Entries close midnight Sunday, February 12. Winner announced in the blog on Monday, Feb 13. Click here to find out the entry details! Good luck!