Chocolate and Valentine’s Day are mated for life. So for this coming day of indulge yourself and your special people with this moist and fluffy valentine chocolate cupcakes topped with dollops of delicious caramel ganache. I whipped the caramel ganache with mascarpone (you can also use cream cheese) to balance out the sweetness, then added these adorable and fun to make heart toppers. How cute is that!
Did you know that fifty-eight million pounds of chocolate are being bought during Valentine’s day week? Since giving and receiving chocolate and hearts have become one of the most popular ways to commemorate the day of love, I decided to create a cupcake along the same lines.
These valentine chocolate cupcakes are moist and tender, topped with rich and indulgent caramel ganache. There’s coffee in the cupcake recipe but don’t worry your cake will not taste like coffee; it will just enhance the chocolate flavor. The frosting is made by preparing a caramel base first, then adding dark chocolate and butter to make a ganache. I like my frosting to be less sweet, so I mix the ganache with mascarpone. This step is optional; you can actually use the caramel ganache as it is, but you should try it and see which one you like better!
How to make the heart topper
Let’s talk about this cute topper. I am actually not a crafty person, but I’ll try to explain it as clearly as I can. 😉 I guess having a school-aged child also makes you familiar with crafty things, like these pipe cleaners. They are usually made of polyester and are available in many different colors. They can be used like a twist tie – twist and bend them to any shape you like. Having said that, simply form your pipe cleaner into a heart shape then put some holed candies one by one. I found these candies from the dollar store. If you don’t have one in your area, use fruit loops instead. Actually, fruit loops are lighter in weight so those might be better to use, especially if you’re planning to make bigger sized hearts. Once you’ve put in the candies, do a final reshaping of the heart (it doesn’t have to be perfect) then twist the ends together.
Next, we need to make the pipe cleaners food safe and a regular driking straw is going to help us do that. Place the twisted ends of the pipe cleaner inside a straw, then trim the length of the straw so that it is about half of your cupcake’s height. Insert the straw in the middle of the cupcake and slowly push it down. The straw should not touch the base of the cupcake. Cover the top of the straw with frosting, if necessary. Here’s a helpful video to give you an idea on how to use straws to make flowers and for this case, pipe cleaners, food safe.
baker’s notes for success
- Sift the dry ingredients twice. Don’t skip this step! Sifting spreads out the flour and breaks up any lumps that can weigh down the batter, resulting to a more tender crumb.
- Room temperature ingredients are important, especially the butter, mascarpone and cream cheese! They tend to curdle if you use them cold.
- Not sure what is medium-low, medium-high speed is? Take a look at this Stand Mixer Speed Guide.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Caramel Frosting
For the Chocolate Cupcake
- 128 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 225 grams superfine sugar
- 3 pieces large eggs
- 169 grams all-purpose flour
- 64 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 177 ml hot brewed coffee
- 177 ml heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
For the Whipped Caramel Frosting
- 210 grams superfine sugar
- 64 grams water
- 188 ml heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon Sea salt
- 56 grams unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 188 grams dark chocolate (66-70% cocoa), chopped
- 150 -225 grams mascarpone or cream cheese
WORK ON THE CARAMEL GANACHE FIRST.
- PREPARATION FOR CARAMEL GANACHE. Combine the heavy cream and vanilla extract in a container (preferably with a spout). Set aside.Place the chopped dark chocolate and butter in a deep bowl then set it aside.
- MAKE THE CARAMEL. In a saucepan, pour the water and the sugar. Give a little stir. Put the saucepan over medium heat until it has a deep amber color, around 6-8 minutes. At this stage, It is important not to stir because it can make the sugar crystallize. If using a thermometer, the temperature of the sugar should be at around 175 to 190 Celcius (345 to 375 F). Once the mixture is already amber color, remove the saucepan from heat and pour the cream into the saucepan in a slow, steady stream while stirring the caramel constantly with a wooden spatula. Add the sea salt and stir.
- MAKE AND COOL THE CARAMEL GANACHE. Immediately pour this hot caramel over the bowl of dark chocolate and butter, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let it cool.
MAKE THE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WHILE WAITING FOR THE CARAMEL GANACHE TO COOL.
- PREPARATION FOR CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line a 12-hole cupcake pan with paper liners.
- SIFT DRY INGREDIENTS. Sift the flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Do this two times. Set aside.
- CREAM. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about four minutes.
- ADD THE EGGS AND VANILLA. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition, but not more than 30 seconds. Add the vanilla together with the last egg.
- ALTERNATE ADDING THE DRY AND WET INGREDIENTS. While doing the following steps, scrape the sides of the bowl in between, if needed. With the mixer still running on medium-low speed, add one-half of the dry ingredients into the bowl. Once the flour is incorporated into the batter, add the coffee, beating slowly until incorporated, but not more than 30 seconds. Add the remaining flour mixture, mixing again until just combined, followed by the heavy cream. Continue mixing on medium-low speed until everything is incorporated, about 1 minute. The batter will be runny.
- BAKE AND COOL. Portion the batter into the cupcake pans, about 3/4 full. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool for one minute in the pan, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting them.
WHIP THE CARAMEL GANACHE WHILE WAITING FOR THE CUPCAKES TO COOL.
- WHIP THE CARAMEL FROSTING. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add the room temperature caramel ganache. Start mixing on low speed for about 2 minutes, then add the room temperature mascarpone or cream cheese little by little. Increase speed to medium-high until the everything is well combined, has thickened, and fluffy - about 1-2 minutes. Do not overmix or your mixture might curdle or become too stiff.
- FROST the cupcakes in whatever way you like. If making for Valentine's, make them more adorable with the DIY heart-shaped toppers above.
* Recipe Adapted from Passion For Baking.