Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I want to bake for Valentine’s Day. Not just what I want to bake on that day, but in the weeks preceding (hey, a girl’s gotta milk any holiday that involves lots of chocolate, right?). There are the classics like red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, chocolate covered strawberries… But I just kept coming back to the thought “What could I possibly make that could top those classics?” I think we all know there’s only one logical answer here: all of the above in ONE dessert. Oh yes. So much goodness that I couldn’t even work all of the major flavor components into the title (I think my SEO program would just self-destruct if I tried to title this post “Red Velvet Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cream Cheese-Filled Cupcakes”).
Red Velvet Strawberry Dream Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes
For the red velvet cupcakes:
4 tbsp. (57 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp. baking cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup all purpose flour
Red food coloring
For the strawberry cream cheese filling:
4 1/2 oz (130 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup strawberry puree
1-2 tbsp. granulated sugar
A dash of vanilla extract
For the cream cheese frosting:
6 oz (170 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
With this recipe, I actually like to start with the frosting. Why, you ask? Because this frosting is so delicious soft and smooth that it really needs a little refrigeration between making it and using it. You want nice, soft butter and cream cheese so it blends nicely, but it will leave it a little too soft for piping. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine your cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and lump-free. Add the powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Put the bowl in the refrigerator until your ready to use the frosting (you’ll want to beat it one more time before you pipe it, so it’s just as well to leave the paddle attachment in there). If you want to make your own chocolate covered strawberries, this is also a good time to do that so the chocolate has time to harden.
To make the cupcakes, beat the butter and granulated sugar together until smooth. Add the eggs and continue beating until the mixture is lump-free. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the red food coloring), and mix until just incorporated. Color your cupcake batter with the red food coloring until you reach the desired shade of red. Bake at 350*F (175*C) for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
For the strawberry cream cheese filling, puree fresh strawberries until you have 1/4 cup puree (I used 5 large strawberries). Stir the puree into your softened cream cheese. Add 1-2 tbsp. granulated sugar (depending on how sweet you like this sort of thing… I opted for 2 myself), stirring until the sugar is all but dissolved. To round out the flavor, add a dash of vanilla extract (when I say dash, I mean something around 1/4 tsp. You really don’t need much for this).
Once your cupcakes have cooled, cut a cone-shaped piece out of the center. Spoon your strawberry cream cheese filling into the center, and trim the piece you pulled out of the cupcake down to just a thin piece to cover the hole you made. Whip your cream cheese frosting until light and fluffy, and pipe onto the cupcakes (I used a large round piping tip). Garnish with chocolate covered strawberries.
Cream cheese frosting adapted from Georgetown Cupcakes