I had so much fun surfing the web to find inspiration for this Valentine’s Day. My daughter is on the rota for ‘Baker Monitor’ at school and we’ve been drooling over all these delicious looking images. Of course she chose the hardest and most elaborate! We’ll see how we get on.

1. One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup warm water

Method

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Reduce speed to low. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract, and the water; beat until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months in airtight containers.

2. Raspberry Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake:

  • 1 box devil’s food cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 C. oil
  • 3/4 C. milk or buttermilk
  • 3/4 C. sour cream or yogurt
  • Marshmallow Fluff for filling

Raspberry Buttercream:

  • 1.2 oz. freeze dried raspberries, crushed and sifted to remove seeds
  • 1 C. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3-4 C. powdered sugar
  • Fresh raspberries and sprinkles (or marshmallows) for decoration

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pans with cupcake liners. Sift cake mix into a large bowl to remove any lumps and add eggs, oil, milk and sour cream. Stir until smooth. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 15-20 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Let cool. Use a small knife to cut out holes from the tops of the cupcakes and fill with marshmallow fluff! This gives is the “hot chocolate” feel with the marshmallow filling! Raspberry Buttercream: (For info about the raspberries and substitute alternatives, see below.) Beat butter until smooth. Add in raspberries (crushed and sifted) and vanilla extract and beat again. Slowly add in powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency. Add milk if it becomes too thick. Pipe onto cooled (and filled) cupcakes and top with fresh raspberries and sprinkles. You can also just top them with mini marshmallows or one big one!

3. Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1¼ cups (8 oz.) sugar
  • Zest of 1 large lemon, preferably organic
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • Juice of 1 large lemon

For the filling:

  • 16 oz. raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

For the frosting:

  • 3 large egg whites
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tbsp. fresh raspberry puree*
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Candied lemon slices, for garnish
  • Fresh raspberries, for garnish

Method

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350? F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and lemon zest.  Mix for about 1 minute on low speed to infuse the sugar with the lemon scent.  The sugar should have the appearance of wet sand.  Add in the butter and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine the sour cream, milk and lemon juice.  Whisk to blend.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix each addition just until incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners filling each about ¾-full.  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan briefly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before proceeding.

To make the filling, combine the raspberries and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Combine the water and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.  Once the berries and their juices begin to bubble, stir in the cornstarch mixture.  Bring to a boil and let boil until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes more.  Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.  If desired, strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the raspberry seeds (optional).  Once the filling is cool, use the cone method to fill the cupcakes with about 2 teaspoons of filling each.

To make the frosting, combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.   Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (don’t worry, it will come together!  This can sometimes take a very long time.)

Divide the finished frosting into two separate bowls.  To one of the bowls, add the fresh raspberry puree and mix to incorporate.  To the other, mix in the lemon zest.  Fit a pastry bag with a large decorative tip (I used a large, unlabeled closed star tip.)  Fill one side of the pastry bag with the raspberry frosting, and then fill in the other side with the lemon frosting (this does not need to be exact – just enough so that both colors are included.)  Pipe a test streak until you see both colors coming out of the tip.  Frost cupcakes as desired, refilling the pastry bag in the same manner as needed.  Garnish the finished cupcakes with candied lemon slices and/or fresh raspberries, if desired.

*To make raspberry puree, simply add fresh or frozen raspberries to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Strain to remove the seeds.  From 6 ounces of fresh berries you will get about ½ cup of puree.

4. Frosted Chocolate-Buttermilk Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • Light Cream-Cheese Icing
  • Candy decorations (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard 12-cup muffin tin (or two 6-cup muffin tins) with paper liners. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

With an electric mixer, combine cocoa and 3 tablespoons hot water until a thick paste forms (this process intensifies the chocolate flavor). Add butter, buttermilk, egg, and egg white; beat until combined. Whisk in flour mixture until smooth.

Scoop (or spoon) batter into prepared tin(s). Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Use an offset spatula or butter knife to spread icing over tops. Decorate as desired.

 

5. Heart Filled Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 white OR strawberry cake mix +  ingredients listed on back
  • red gel coloring
  • pink gel coloring (you can skip this if your using strawberry cake)
  • small heart cutter OR flower cutter (see below)
  • cupcake liners
  • small and jumbo heart sprinkles

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix your cake batter as directed on box.

IF you’re using white cake mix, add in pink gel coloring until you get a nice pastel pink. Remember pink get’s really bright really quick so be careful, and the color will darken once baked.

Separate 2 cups of the pink (or strawberry!) cake batter from the rest. Stir in some red gel coloring until you get a nice vibrant red color. I used Red Red Americolor.

Grease a small cake pan with oil and flour. I used an 8inX8in square pan. But anything close will do the trick. You just don’t want you cake to be too tall.

Pour in red cake batter and smooth out. Tap gently to help decrease air pockets.

Bake at 350. For about 18-22 minutes, you will see the sides just starting to turn brown and a toothpick will come out clean. Let cool.

Once cool remove cake on parchment paper then flip over right side up. My cake was just a bit too thick and lumpy (I sub’d oil that’s why) so I trimmed the top off. You will want it to be no more then a half inch thick. Is’t that red cake gorgeous? Note: If your cake if smooth and a good height you can skip this step, and the hearts will come out even better as the baked part is easer to work with.

Now time for the fun part! If you have a small heart cutter great! If not…look around for a flower that will do. I found I didn’t have a small enough heart, but I could easily make one out of this flower, with a little trim. My hearts were about 1 in. By spacing them well I was able to get twice as many hearts then I needed. (save your scraps for cake pops!)

Now it’s time to pull it all together! Because it would be just about impossible to bake a 3D heart to put inside, you will have to remember which way you baked it. Otherwise once cut you’ll end up with a funny shape and not a heart.  I’ll show you how I did that in a moment, but just a thought to remember as your making these!

Line a cupcake pan with your cupcake liners. Spoon in 1 TBS of pink cake batter into the liners.  Then gently push your heart cake into the batter, center and facing flat to the front…like so.

Now gently spoon two more TBS of pink cake batter over top of the heart, one near the front and one near the back. It’s important to make sure your batter is OVER the heart, or your going to end up with heart popping cupcakes! Which really isn’t SO bad I guess :).

Now here’s the key part. To guarantee I knew the cupcakes were facing the right way, I placed a small heart sprinkle on top of the batter, flat to the front and directly over the heart. Easy right?! The pin I saw on Pinterest mentioned using a marker to make a dot on the front of the cupcake liner before using. I like this idea much much better, in my opinion!

Bake at 350 for about 14-16 minutes. I pulled them out as soon as I noticed small spots of brown on the top and the cake sprang back when poked. See how the hearts are still in perfect place, I was impressed!

Now you can pull them out and let them cool before icing. Before icing…line them all up just like they were in the pan, because when you pipe on your swirl you will want to start in the back lined up with the sprinkle. This will give allow you to still be able to still tell the front once iced! Before moving the cupcake, place a jumbo heart sprinkle on top facing forward and you’re all set to go!

 

6. Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 12 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 zest from lemon
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ quart container of strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 ounces container cream cheese
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4-5 strawberries, stems removed and finely chopped

Method

Begin by combining the 3/4 container of chopped strawberries and 2 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until ready to use.

To make the angel food cake cupcakes, line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour and salt into a bowl and set aside. Separate egg whites from yolks. Zest the lemon and set the zest aside. Juice the lemon. Add the egg whites to a mixer and beat on medium high until foamy (about 1 minute). Add the lemon juice to the egg whites and beat until soft peaks form.

Continue to beat, adding about 1 tablespoon sugar at a time, until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes, using 1 1/4 cups cups sugar in total. Add the vanilla and beat to combine. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Sift the flour mixture over the egg-white mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time, folding the flour into the egg whites using a rubber spatula each time. Be careful not to over mix, you want it to stay really fluffy.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake tins (about a heaping tablespoon in each one) and smooth the tops of each. Bake until golden, or approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool in pan. While waiting for the cupcakes to cool, prepare the frosting. Combine the cream cheese, the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk on medium speed until smooth.

While the mixture is still whipping, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Whip until stiff peaks form. Fold in the finely chopped strawberries. Once the cupcakes have cooled, use a small paring knife to cut out the center of the cupcake. Fill with some of the strawberry-sugar mixture.

Add the frosting to a plastic bag and cut a small corner off the bottom of the bag. Pipe the icing on to the cupcakes and top with a strawberry slice.

7. Red Currant Poppy Seed Muffins with Lemon

Ingredients

  • 100 g butter
  • 1/3 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp (100 ml) milk
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (135 g) sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups (180 g) all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 3/4 cup (125 g) red currants

Method

Preheat oven to 200°C (390F) and line a muffin pan with 12 muffin liners. Melt the butter and add milk and lemon zest. Beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy, then add butter mixture. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix with wet ingredients. Add poppy seeds. Spoon batter and currants into liners until 2/3 full. Bake for approximately 15 minutes.

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