Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Cupcakes: Chocolate Drizzled Fresh Strawberry


(I am being stealthily stalked by sinuses. I am working with one nostril here, folks. Took some aspirin with a naked strawberry cupcake** at 5 a.m.).

Here is a recipe to knock your sweetie's socks off today:
(Note to novice bakers: this is REALLY not as hard as it looks.) 

You will need:
One pint of good, fresh strawberries
The strawberry cake mix of your choice (Do not feel guilty. There are some wonderful mixes out there.)

I am very, very fond of these people:
Duncan Hines
One 8 ounce package of cream cheese (softened to room temperature)
Two sticks of unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
(the only butter in my kitchen...ever: Land O' Lakes)
about two cups of confectioner's sugar
good vanilla extract
good strawberry extract
a drop of red food coloring (optional)
1-1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate morsels
2 tablespoons of shortening
(If you're not from The South, this is what it looks like: Crisco)

Prepare mix according to directions (I usually add a tiny bit of vanilla and strawberry extracts). Measure carefully into two lined cupcake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about eighteen minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. As soon as possible, remove cupcakes to cool (on a rack if you have one). You're going to be busy.


Chop about five medium-sized strawberries into tiny pieces, then mash them up with a fork. Set aside.
Beat cream cheese and butter together until fluffy. Add sugar at about 1/3 cup at a time.
(Stop mixer. Taste. Stop mixer. Taste.) When you're happy with the flavor and it looks like frosting, add crushed strawberries, a splash of vanilla and a splash of strawberry extract. Whip all that together with your mixer. Add a little food coloring if you're really into pink - but you don't need it.)

(NOTE: I use a little hand mixer I've had for as long as I can remember. If you can get your hands on a hand mixer, I highly recommend them. I can't stand stand mixers. They just stand around and look ornamental. But I digress...)

The Chocolate: 

This is not nearly as difficult as people make it out to be. Really. Take a skillet and put about one inch of hot water in the bottom. Place over LOW heat (you do not want this to boil). Put a medium-sized saucepan into the skillet, and pour the chocolate morsels into it. The chocolate will start to melt of its own accord. Plunk the shortening in there. Stir. Stir some more. DO NOT allow any water to come into contact with the chocolate. Do not even tell the chocolate there is water nearby.

Now, chop up lots of strawberries into pretty little pieces (you can sprinkle a bit of granulated sugar on them if you think they need sweetening). Your cupcakes are cool, your frosting still looks like frosting, your chocolate is stirred and nice and liquid-y. Here is the fun part:


Put waxed paper or paper towels on your kitchen counters. This is going to get messy.
Work quickly. Pour the melted chocolate into an icing bag and use a #5 Wilton tip* if you possess one.

*(If you don't: chocolate drizzling can be accomplished by pouring the chocolate into a freezer baggie with a tiny hole cut out of the corner. I have done this. I do not recommend it, though.) 

Slap icing onto each cupcake with a spatula, or if you're doing it fancy, put it into an icing bag and pipe on using a #1 tip (my personal favorite).
Top each cupcake with chopped strawberries. Drizzle chocolate like crazy.

Refrigerate each of your little darlings as soon as possible. Present to your Valentine.

**You may not have enough icing for all twenty-four cupcakes. This will result in "naked strawberry cupcakes". Excellent with aspirin.

Love from Delta.

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