Valentine’s Day is here! Sometimes I find it funny that I actually write about it at all here on the blog since I don’t really find it to be as big of a deal as others seem to make it. I’ve spent the last couple of years trying to “preach” about how love should be shown all year round and not just during occasions like Valentine’s after all. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with basking in the special gestures and romantic efforts showered to us by loved ones on this day! I have witnessed firsthand some people who are very quietly expressive of their love most of the time, but surprisingly tend to go all out during this day.
Truthfully it’s a nice change for some people.
However for me, Valentine’s has turned into a great opportunity to bring out the pink food colouring and heart-shaped dessert bling. I don’t typically make “cute” desserts but Valentine’s just brings out this side of me that wants nothing except for something pink and adorable. Oh! And chocolatey. No other time is more appropriate to stuff oneself full of chocolate other than Valentine’s, boyfriend or no. Agree?
What am I saying… Anytime is a good time to eat chocolate!
Quick question, just because I’m curious: For all the girls out there, do you prefer to receive flowers or chocolates? Or both? Personally I love getting chocolates a teeny bit more than flowers because I tend to feel sad when I see my flowers start to wither. 🙁
Anyway, keeping all the above in mind, I went surfing for something that would make the perfect Valentine’s cupcakes to gift and receive. Filtering through all the awesomeness across the blogosphere, I managed to come across one recipe that perfectly fits the profile I was going for: Rich and moist chocolate cake, smothered with a sweet cherry-touched frosting, with clever decorative hearts on top to get us in the mood for some lovin’!
As I was reading through the recipe, the first thing I noticed about these cupcakes was the construction of the chocolate cakes. They’re not the typical butter-based recipe and is a bit more similar in nature to my favourite chocolate cupcake recipe so far. As for the frosting, I actually halved the ingredient quantity from the original recipe since I don’t like piling it on my cupcakes. You can of course use the full amount if you’re big on frosting. (Check out my source link below for the original recipe!)
Regardless of how much frosting you make, I would strongly recommend using a maraschino cherry brand with the best taste since that is what will be heavily relied on to flavour the frosting. Initially I wasn’t sure how my brothers would respond to the maraschino cherry frosting. I wasn’t able to use our favourite brand and I was afraid these would taste a bit off, but they still loved it. When I went in for a taste, I found that the frosting was more like an afterthought to the delicious chocolate cake bases, which to me is always a good thing. I really hate when frostings overpower the cupcake bases. The ideal situation is to have both complement, but if not, I would prefer to taste the cake more.
Now if you like cherries, you can add more into the frosting for a stronger flavour. You can also probably add a whole cherry in the middle of the cupcake to give them a much sweeter surprise!
Makes 12 to 18 cupcakes, depending on size of mold
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups confectioner's sugar
- 2 Tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
- 1/4 cup maraschino cherries, finely chopped
- pinch of salt
- 1. Line muffin tin with paper liners. Heat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- 2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- 3. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Mix using a whisk or beat on medium speed for one minute. Stir in boiling water. The batter will be thin. Transfer the batter into a large measuring cup with a spout.
- 4. Fill liners 2/3 full with batter. Do not overfill as the batter may spill out onto the muffin tin.
- 5. Bake cupcakes for approximately 22-25 minutes, until set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.
- 6. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or using a whisk, beat butter until smooth.
- 7. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until combined. Add maraschino cherry juice, one tablespoon at a time.
- 8. Continue beating until the mixture turns a light pink and is well combined, then add the chopped maraschino cherries. If desired, add a drop of pink or red food colouring. Beat until fully combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- 9A. Use a serrated knife to cut off the top of the cupcake, using the top of the cupcake liner as a guide. Use a small heart cookie cutter to cut out a heart shape from the cupcake dome. Spread frosting onto the cupcake base, in a mounded shape. (If desired, sprinkle the cupcake dome with powdered sugar.) Place the round with the heart-shaped hole back on frosted cupcakes and press down gently to adhere.
- 9B. Another option is to use the heart shape cut out from the cupcake dome as the topper. Use a serrated knife to cut off the top of the cupcake, using the top of the cupcake liner as a guide. Use a small heart cookie cutter to cut out a heart shape from the cupcake dome, then spread frosting on the cupcakes base. Top with the heart shape cake.
Advanced Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Wherever or whatever you decide to do on the 14th, as long as it’s with the one you love, I’m sure it’ll be special nonetheless. 😉