“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt” – Charles M. Schultz
You said it Mr. Schultz. Chocolate and love, love and chocolate- the two go hand in hand. Like Romeo and Juliet, Bonnie and Clyde, and Fred and Ginger, some things are just meant to be together. You know what else was meant to be together? Bright, juicy strawberries and rich, creamy chocolate, that’s what. If Valentine’s Day had an official flavor, this would be it. It’s a match made in heaven… maybe Cupid does exist!
Valentine’s Day is only a week away and this year instead of busting your budget on expensive store bought chocolates, why not impress your sweetie with something homemade? These Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting are easy enough for a novice baker to handle, but taste sooo darn good. They are sure to impress your loved ones and win over any crush. One bite and they will be smitten (with the cupcake, but hopefully with you too!)
Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes about 1 ½ dozen cupcakes
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed down
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup lowfat buttermilk, at room temperature
½ cup sour cream, at room temperature
3 Tbsp brewed coffee
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cup high quality cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare your baking tins with cupcake liners.
Add the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. On high speed, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time. Once the eggs are fully incorporated add the vanilla and mix well.
In a separate bowl stir together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
On low speed, add the wet mixture and the dry ingredients alternately, in thirds. Begin with the wet mixture and end with the dry ingredients. Mix only until blended. Turn off the mixer and fold the batter by hand to be sure everything is well blended.
Divide the batter evenly between your cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 full. I like to use a batter bottle to evenly (and cleanly) divide the batter.
Bake in the oven for 18-22 minutes, depending on your oven. Let cool completely on a wire rack before frosting (or the frosting will melt).
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
1 lb fresh strawberries, rinsed and dried*
8 oz cream cheese, chilled
6 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
4-5 cups of powdered sugar
*Note: if you plan to make the chocolate covered strawberry decoration for the top of the cupcakes, set aside a few small strawberries
Select about 8-10 large strawberries (about 2 cups), remove stems, and cut in half. Add the strawberries to a blender and puree on the highest setting until the berries are completely broken down. Use a fine mesh sieve to remove any seeds. I like to hold the sieve over a bowl, pour a little of the berry mixture in, and stir it around in the sieve with a spoon. Try to get as much of the berry mixture as possible. 2 cups of chopped berries should produce about ½ cup of berry mixture.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream together the butter and cream cheese until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly add in the first 2 cups of powdered sugar ½ cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. On medium high speed, whisk together for about a minute.
Reduce speed to low and add the berry mixture, ¼ cup at a time. Mix only until fully incorporated. Add in the remaining powdered sugar, again scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Once all of the powdered sugar is mixed in, turn the speed up to high and whisk for 2-3 minutes until the frosting becomes fluffy and is the right consistency for piping onto cupcakes. You may need to add additional powdered sugar to reach desired consistency, depending on how firm you want the frosting to be.
Using a piping bag and a frosting tip, decorate the cupcakes as desired. Get creative and have fun with this part!
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Decoration
Several small strawberries, rinsed and dried
1 cup high quality chocolate chips
Melt the chocolate in the microwave (you could use a double broiler, but the microwave is easiest). Carefully dip the strawberries into the chocolate. Once dipped, place onto a foil or parchment lined plate. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes so that the chocolate will set and not melt into your frosting. Place one strawberry on top of the frosted cupcakes.