February 10, 2009

Sweets for your Sweeties!

People seem to feel very strongly about Valentine's Day. Either they love it and get totally into it Martha Stewart style, or they think it's just Hallmark propaganda and boycott the holiday entirely (and share these feelings with any one within yelling range). Personally, I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I appreciate the holiday as a day to express to the ones you love how much they mean to you. We often get lost in the shuffle of our everyday lives, so why not take a minute and recognize those you love. This is not limited to only your main squeeze of the moment, but also to your family and close friends. Everyone appreciates a little card with a cute message! 

I don't, however, think this needs to be done with elaborate handmade crepe paper valentines or expensive gifts. Brad and I still feel like we are coming off the Christmas giving spree, so we rarely give gifts for Valentine's. Instead we opt for cards and food. We usually go to a nice dinner and spend the night drinking wine, eating great food and being sure to order something chocolatey and sinful for dessert. This year, we are actually upping the anti and taking a weekend trip to Disney! Wahoo! As a person who spent 18 years of her life never more than 2 hours away from the most wonderful place on earth, I'm looking very forward to revisiting with Mickey.

But getting back to my point that Valentine's is not solely limited to your honey, why not make a treat that can be spread around, instead of making a fancy chocolate souffle that will only cover one person on your "I love" list. Why not make mini-cupcakes that are decorated in a Valentine's motif?! Kitchy, yes. But it's the holiday people, work with me.

These little beauties are so delicious - moist and dense with a subtle sweetness and chocolate flavor that is only found in a truly special southern red velvet cake. And the frosting, oh the frosting. Cream cheese. I think it speaks for itself. I only used 1 tablespoon of red food coloring so my cakes came out a little pinkish instead of red, but still very festive. I also topped each one with Valentine's M&M's. These went to various places and people I had some of the best responses to these I've ever gotten. Go ahead - show 48 of your friends that you love them with these suckers and see if you don't at least get some candies and kisses in return.

Red Velvet Mini-Cupcakes
Adapted from How Sweet It Is Bakery - Ellen Sternau and Beth Pilar
Yields 48

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1-2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon vinegar

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temp.
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
Valentine's M&Ms or other appropriate decorations
  • Mini-Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 325℉ and line two mini-cupcake pans with wrappers.
  • Mix all dry ingredients together and all wet ingredients together in 2 separate bowls.
  • Pour wet into dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
  • Immediately pour mixture into tins, filling about 2/3 of the way full.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, then cool completely.
  • Frosting: Mix butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  • Slowly mix in confectioners sugar and vanilla extract.
  • Place frosting in a piping bag (I used a star-shaped tip), and frost as desired. Or frost using a spatula.
  • Top with decorations.


Aimée said...

These are too cute! Have fun at Disney,OK?

A Feast for the Eyes said...

Wow! These are picture perfect! How do you find time for this? :)

You going to Disney World or Land? I'm 5 hours north of Disneyland. How I envy you! Have a fantastic time.


jesse said...

Aww, I totally agree with your sentiments regarding Valentine's Day... and awwww, Disneyland? How cute!! I hope you guys have a fantastic time there!

noble pig said...

Oh yum, I agree...spread it around! These are adorable.

Chef Fresco said...

so pretty! We opt out of the v-day gifts too :) I'm jealous of your icing decorator!

Pumpkin said...

Disney World or Land? Either way, you're gonna have a blast! Happy Valentines Day!

Culinarywannabe said...

Hi Aimée - Thanks! I will try *very* hard! :)

Hi Debby - They really weren't time consuming at all! Plus, if I messed any up I just kept them for our house instead of trying to fix them. :) We're going to Disneyworld - so excited!

Hi Jesse - Thank you so much!

Hi Noble Pig - They were super cute, especially since they are bite sized. Thanks!

Hi Chef - Another one of the perks of getting married!

Hi Pumpkin - Disneyworld. We are totally pumped!

Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

Oh very pretty!
I will make these today.
Thanks for the recipe.

Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

I just make these. So DARN CUTE!
Thanks again!

Grace said...

great minds really do think alike! if you ask me, these are the perfect valentine's day dessert. or really, any day. :)

Maria said...

Cute cupcakes!! Perfect for V-day! Have fun on your trip!

Emily said...

Beautiful cupcakes! I'm envious of your decorating skills.

Have a fun trip at Disney, and happy Valentine's Day to you and your sweetie.

Jamie said...

Ah, so true! My hubby hates the "faux" holiday, sees it as nothing but a big commercial "gotcha". I, like you, love just to bake sweet things (I posted a heart-shaped coffee cake for my love). Your cupcakes are adorable!

Apples and Butter said...

Love, love, love the Valentines goodies that are starting to show up. Can you bring your cupcakes to my office? Thank you!

Sara said...

These look amazing, I love red velvet! I have one of those frosting guns too, I haven't used it yet. Have a great trip!

ChefDruck said...

These are SO pinkalicious. Great idea!

sugarlens said...

Your cupcakes look wonderful. I love red velvet, but I am always a bit wary about using food coloring...

Have fun at Disney! My husband and I are big Disney fans. We go there (World, not Land) every year. :)

Culinarywannabe said...

Hi Foodie - So very glad you liked them!

Hi Grace - I'm still in love with your pink frosting!

Hi Maria - Thanks!

Hi Emily - It's all thanks to that little decorating tool - I got no skills. Happy Valentine's to you and yours as well.

Hi Jamie - I will take any excuse to bake up sugary goodies. :)

Hi Apples and Butter - Sure, no problem. As long as you bring me by a big slice of your veggie tart!

Hi Sara - Bust that sucker out! It was a lot of fun to play with.

Hi ChefDruck - "pinkalicious" Luv it.

Hi Sugarlens - Isn't disney so much more fun as adults? We love going there with our friends.

Peabody said...

Who doesn't love a red velvet cupcake...yum!

Dani Spies said...

Happy Valentines Day! Your cup cakes look delicious!!

The Blonde Duck said...

Your icing looks so much better than mine ever did! Love it!


Tanya said...

These look wonderful!! I want one right now!

Have a wonderful weekend :)

Meg said...

So cute! I bet they are quite tasty!

Ana Powell said...

Just beautiful.
And tasty for sure.
Great Blog x