This is my third post about Valentines Day and I wanted to end with an explosion of taste, elegance, and just a bit of playfulness.
Why have a cupcake topped with one flavor of frosting when you can have a swirl of flavors, more chocolate, and a fresh chocolate strawberry on top. If this doesn't say love... then I don't know what does. These cupcakes are perfect not only for Valentines Day but for any celebration. They are easy to make and do not require refrigeration (unless it is summer or super warm where you live then the chocolate on the strawberry might get a bit melty.)
Here are the elements to this giant chocolate strawberry cupcake.
*Moist and spongy chocolate cupcake
*Dipped in melted dark chocolate
*Covered in sprinkles
*Topped with a swirl of white chocolate buttercream and fresh strawberry buttercream
*Completed with a chocolate dipped strawberry and a drizzle of white chocolate.
And don't forget these are 100% gluten free but I swear you cannot tell!
Valentine's Day is not as popular here in Germany as it is in the United States, but it is still celebrated between couples. We're a bit more old school here and you see couples buying presents for each other. Candy, flowers, wine. I had a friend who ordered a T-Bone steak in the shape of a heart for her husband to later grill. What a cool idea! But, we do not do kids Valentines Day parties in schools like in America. As a kid growing up in America, I remembering going to Walgreens with my mom and buying Looney Tunes Valentines Day cards for every member of my class. We were so cute back then. While I don't have to run out to the nearest drugstore to buy anything for my kid's classroom it was fun to be creative and figure out the best most extravagant cupcake for Valentines Day.
I also wanted to make a few extra and dedicate them to my best 'Mom-Friends.' For the past year we have tried to meet every other week on Zoom, and we stay up drinking wine, and gossiping and complaining about our kids and husbands. They are all native Germans, mostly from this small town, and I do not know what I would do without them. If I or anyone in my family would need anything, they would be here without a question. We support each other, watch each others kids, hand deliver gift bags of wine/cocktails and treats to each others doorsteps. They have fully embraced me and my family into this community like I could have never imagined would be possible.
To my ladies, these cupcakes are for you. Happy Gal-entines!
Mädels, ich liebe Euch und ich kann es nicht erwarten bis die Pandemie vorbei ist und wir uns wieder treffen können.
(Ladies, I love you and I cannot wait until this pandemic is over and we can finally see each other again.)
These cupcakes were super easy to make even though they seem intense. I promise a beginner baker can wow their friends and family with these cupcakes.
The chocolate cupcake is super standard. Nothing crazy and takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish. Just make sure they are cool before you do any toppings. Also I made them the day before and after they cooled I stored them in a tupperware box overnight (not in the refrigerator). If you do put them in the fridge make sure they are in an airtight container otherwise they will seriously dry out.
While the cupcakes were baking I went ahead on tempering chocolate. Tempering chocolate seems super scary. It isn't. Just take some standard dark baking chocolate and chop it up. Put it into a heat proof bowl and microwave it on 45 second intervals until it is melted and smooth. I do recommend a candy thermometer for this because you do want the chocolate to be around 95 Degrees F. If it is too hot the chocolate will be too thin and won't cover what you want. If the chocolate is too cold it will dry very dull and won't give you the sheen you are looking for.
Once you get your chocolate to the right temperature then you are ready to dip. Just be careful to not pull off the green leaves of the strawberry stem. The green adds a nice contrast to color and keeps the strawberry fresh and whole.
I drizzled on the white chocolate after the dark chocolate had set. Since I made these strawberries the day before, I did refrigerate them until the cupcakes were ready to be decorated.
Then with the leftover dark chocolate I lined the top of the cupcake so I could dip it into sprinkles.
So easy! Just take your favorite sprinkles and dip away. In retrospect, I should have used white chocolate to line the cupcake. I think it would have helped these red sprinkles stand out a bit more. However, the dark chocolate worked perfectly for the pink and white heart sprinkles that I also used.
Now for the frosting. I couldn't decide between white chocolate and strawberry so I made both! Why not! The strawberry frosting is a bit more work, but definitely worth the effort. I took frozen strawberries with some water and sugar and cooked them down until the sauce was very thick. Then I strained it and discarded the lumpy bits and kept the smooth liquid.
In the picture below shows the pot just coming to a boil in the very beginning stages.
In the picture below the sauce reduced by more than half and thickened.
You do not have to continuously stir but every few minutes give it a stir and check the consistency. You also only want it to simmer, not boil.
Then don't forget to strain out the large bits.
So that you end up with this.
Pure strawberry gold.
I set aside the strawberry liquid to cool and set up a bit. To be honest I needed a coffee break and I had also forgotten to set out my butter to soften, so it was a perfect time for a break!
Then I made a huge batch of American Buttercream, really making sure to whip my butter and I also added some white food coloring so it wouldn't have that off-white/pale yellow look. I also did not add any heavy whipping cream or milk. The strawberry liquid really thins out the buttercream so no additional liquid is necessary.
Then I separated the buttercream by half. I added in the strawberry liquid and whipped it up. I took a spoon and tasted it and was happy but not thrilled. I gave a spoonful to my daughter who loved it but said the strawberry taste was very faint. I knew just what to do!
I took about a cup of freeze dried strawberries and pulverized them until they were super fine. I strained out any large lumps and added the strawberry 'powder' to my frosting. Whipped it up again in my stand mixer and the taste was outstanding! Intense and natural strawberry flavor poured through my veins. I was in heaven. Using the freeze dried strawberries as well as the homemade strawberry syrup together was genius. Your welcome. I was just glad that I had a stash of freeze dried strawberries in my basement.
For the white chocolate frosting I used the rest of the melted chocolate and added it to the other half of the plain white frosting. Whipped that up again and was ready to go.
So here I have to apologize, I completely forgot to take a picture of how I combine the two frostings together so that I could pipe these beautiful two-toned rose flowers.
BUT, I do have a few pictures and a video of how I combined multiple colored frostings from a cake that I had made earlier in the week. It uses the exact same method.
Pipe your colors onto a pieces of plastic wrap.
2. Roll the plastic wrap so that all of the colors are touching each other but are still in a cylinder shape.
3. Then you take the frosting and put that directly into your piping bag. Practice a few designs to make sure that all of the colors are coming out evenly. Then you can pipe any design you want.
And wear gloves unless you want frosting all over your fingers. Oops!
I know that Wilton and other brands sell these piping bags with different nozzles so that you can pipe multiple colors at once. Don't buy it. This is a super easy, fast and cheap hack. I love Wilton, I buy a ton of their products, but this method works perfectly for me every time.
And that's it. Top with the fully set chocolate strawberries and you are ready to make anyone smile with these decadent chocolate strawberry cupcakes. Happy Valentines Day!