Friday, February 17, 2017

Chocolate-Strawberry Cupcakes

If there is one thing they tell you to do, it’s try something new. While baking cupcakes isn’t a new concept for me, I’m not so good at it. It’s really always been a bit of a challenge for me, and I’m not really sure why. So when the January/February 2017 Food Network Magazine came out and they had a whole section devoted to cupcakes for each month, I just knew I had to partake… and at least try.

As we know, I messed up the January cupcakes just a bit… but it was more icing related issues than it was cupcake related issues. And the cupcakes themselves were excellent.

When I saw the cupcakes for this month, I was quite excited. While they don’t want them to be for a special occasion but say a random Tuesday, these cupcakes scream Valentine’s Day to me. No, I didn’t make them on Valentine’s Day or even for Valentine’s Day because I was busy getting ready to attend a wedding, but I knew I was going to make them no matter what.

This morning I had a few minutes so I went into the kitchen, gathered up all the ingredients and went about my way making Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes.

One of the ingredients it called for was instant espresso powder. Well, I didn’t have any and didn’t have much luck finding any at the store either, so I used instant coffee instead. Really other than the fact that it isn’t quite as strong of a flavor, they are easily swap-able with each other.

Other than that one swap, I followed the recipe to a T.

This month I was able to measure out the batter into 12 cupcakes compared to last month when I somehow only wound up with 11 cupcakes. So I’m making progress.

The cupcakes called for a glaze over the warm cupcakes of strawberry jam or jelly mixed with lemon juice. I used jelly. I have to point out that between the nice chocolate flavor with the flavor of the icing, I didn’t really taste the strawberry layer. I took my Mother-in-law over a cupcake this morning when I went to check on cows and she too didn’t really taste that strawberry jelly layer.

Unfortunately this isn’t the “right” time of year for strawberries. While I liked them, hubby thought they were a little under-ripe.

When I was making my frosting, or icing if you prefer, my white icing tasted great. The white chocolate melted up nicely, then mixed with the powdered sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla, it turned out to be a very good tasting icing. Not to sweet, but it was sweet enough, and I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate.

Sadly, my chocolate icing on the other hand, when added to the butter, then mixing in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk, something happened and it got chunky. I’m not exactly sure what I did incorrectly, but there were those chocolate chunks in my chocolate icing. Whoops. Why does it seem like I keep messing up the icing in these cupcakes?

Then… piping the icing on…. <sigh>. So I prepared my piping bag, it said to use a large circle tip. Well from my years in cake decorating classes, the teacher said to fit with a coupler and just use that. That’s what I proceeded to do… I placed my white icing in one side of the bag and the chocolate in the other just as the directions suggested. That’s when things went down hill fast. I started squeezing out to get both colors. Well this makes just enough icing for all 12 cupcakes.

In the end I was short icing so I had to spread it on with a spatula. So while they weren’t real pretty, they tasted pretty darn good, but hubby didn’t really agree. He wasn’t crazy about the different flavors together… but my mother-in-law on the other hand agreed with me. I’m not sure there needed to be the strawberry layer because it didn’t really shine through, but otherwise, the cupcakes were pretty good. I like the icing too, so I assume this might make a good cake some day…. never know….

Chocolate-Strawberry Cupcakes (via Food Network Magazine, Jan/Feb 2017, pg 59)
Ingredients:
  • For the Cupcakes
    • 1 c flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 tsp instant espresso powder
    • 3/4 c whole milk
    • 1 c sugar
    • 3/4 c vegetable oil
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1/4 c strawberry jam/jelly
    • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • For the Strawberries & Icing:
    • 6 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
    • 12 medium strawberries
    • 2 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
    • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temp
    • 2 pinches salt, separated
    • 2 tsp vanilla, separated
    • 2 tbsp whole milk, separated
Directions:
For the cupcake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with liners.
  2. Whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl.
  3. Combine the cocoa powder and espresso powder in a large bowl
  4. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until hot but not simmering; pour over the cocoa powder mixture and whisk until smooth.
  5. Let cool a few minutes, then add the granulated sugar and whisk until dissolved.
  6. Whisk in the vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla, then whisk in the flour mixture until combined.
  7. Divide the batter between the muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full.
  8. Bake 20 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back when gently pressed.
  9. While the cupcakes are baking, mix together the strawberry jam/jelly with the lemon juice and brush on the warm cupcakes.
  10. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
For the Chocolate covered strawberries
  1. Microwave 4oz semisweet chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, stirring, until melted.
  2. Dip the strawberries in the chocolate; place on wax paper.
  3. Let set, 20-30 minutes.
For the Icing:
  1. Microwave the white chocolate and the remaining 2 oz semisweet chocolate in separate bowls, stirring each, until melted.
  2. Let cool.
  3. Beat 6 tbsp butter and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth.
  4. Beat in the melted white chocolate.
  5. Add 1 c confectioners sugar; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes, then beat in 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tbsp milk
  6. Set aside the white chocolate icing
  7. Repeat steps 3-6 with the semisweet chocolate to make semisweet chocolate icing.
  8. Spoon the white chocolate icing onto one side of a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Spoon the semisweet chocolate icing next to the white chocolate icing so the two flavors are side by side; pip swirled icing onto the cupcakes.
  9. Top each with a chocolate-dipped strawberry.
  10. Enjoy, especially on a random Tuesday.


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