Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Sweet Valentine Memories....

I have to say upfront, that this is a bit of an embarrassing post.  I am in my mid-sixties (yes that is enough of an admission) - but wait - there's more.  Can you believe I have never ever - NEVER EVER - piped frosting?!?  I know - what have I been waiting for???  I totally admit that this first attempt is not a work of art - the pictures say it all.  But it was a labor of love and honestly, it was really fun.  Will I do it again??  Yep - because I clearly need to practice - and my efforts made two little boys VERY happy = huge payoff!

I was feeling guilty that I had not made Valentine cards this year - not sure why, but just  had no inspiration.  But I didn't want the day to go by and not do anything for Carter.  Plus, my neighbor's little grandson who is 2 years old, was spending Valentine's Day with them, so I had double motivation to bake something yummy.  And this recipe was just perfect for two adorable little boys.


from Sally's Baking Addiction            

3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (I use King Arthur Triple Cocoa Blend)
3/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
2 large eggs
1/2 c. natural cane sugar
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1/3 c. oil (I use Spectrum canola and coconut oil blend)
2 t. pure vanilla extract (I like Mexican vanilla when making a chocolate recipe)
1/2 c. buttermilk, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350.  This makes 14 cupcakes, so line a muffin tin with paper liners and put two liners in a second tin.  Set aside.

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk until well combined.  In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, sugars, oil and vanilla together and whisk until smooth and thoroughly combined.  Pour half of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients..  Then add half of the buttermilk.  Whisk gently for a few seconds.  Repeat with the remaining wet ingredients and buttermilk.  Stir until just combined; do NOT overmix.  The batter will be thin.

I used a small ice cream scoop to fill the liners halfway.  It is important to only fill them halfway to prevent the batter from spilling over the sides or sinking.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow them to cool completely before frosting.

These cupcakes can be made a day in advance.  Keep them at room temperature and cover tightly.  They can also be frozen (unfrosted) for up to two months.  Thaw overnight in the fridge and bring to room temperature before frosting.

 (also from Sally's Baking  Addiction)

This makes about 3 cups of frosting and is perfect for frosting these chocolate cupcakes.  YUM!

1 c. (12 g) freeze dried strawberries
1 c. (235 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 c. (480 g) powdered sugar
3 T. (45 ml) whole milk
1 t. Tahitian vanilla extract (Tahitian vanilla is great with fruit recipes, but any vanilla is fine)
salt, to taste, if needed

Using a blender or food processor, process the freeze dried strawberries until they become a fine powder.  There should be about 1/2 c. of the powdery strawberries.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter on medium high speed with a stand mixer until it is creamy, about 2 minutes.  Add the powdered sugar, strawberry powder, milk and vanilla.  Beat on low speed for about 30 seconds, and beat on high speed for two minutes.  Taste the frosting and add a pinch of salt if it seems too sweet.    (the frosting will keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator; store in covered container).

This frosting is soooooooooo good and I love that the light pink color is from the freeze dried strawberries - no artificial coloring at all.


Chocolate and strawberries - a perfect duo!

Mmm....Mmm...Good!  Frosting first - always!

I delivered a plate of cupcakes to Carter the day after Valentine's Day (luckily he is too young to realize Grammy was late!) and I heard that they were used as bribery (I mean rewards) for the rest of the week!!  Multi-purpose cupcakes - even better!

If you have not jumped on the cupcake and piped frosting bandwagon yet - you really must. If I can do it - or at least attempt to do it - so can you!


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