Hidden Heart Red Velvet Cupcakes

Hidden hearts in my red velvet cupcakes ❤

 I have always wanted to bake a shape inside of a cupcake. I have seen this done for years (even before Pinterest) and I always wondered how it was done. It’s like a present inside of a present. First you get the deliciously sweet and cute little cupcake, and you open it up and there is another little darling surprise!

This year, in the spirit of the season of love, I decided to try to bake a little heart in to some red velvet cupcakes. I know Valentine’s is still a week away, but what can I say, I got a little trigger happy.

Typically, these shape-hidden-within-a-cupcake recipes call for you to make the batter, then separate 1/3 of the batter for coloring and baking and subsequent shaping of the core. I didn’t want to do a boring old white cupcake, so I decided to spice things up for my hunka hunka burnin’ man love and do a red velvet cupcake with a white with pink marbled heart center.

Marbled white cake.

Marbled white cake.

I bought some crappy white cake box mix from the store (I hung my head as I did it, but really… I am just cutting it up and dying it… no point in making a whole quality cake to only use a few pieces of it). I spread my batter on a cookie sheet, marbled the color throughout, and baked. I did it this way because  I wanted my hearts to be as thin and petite as possible. I then stored my hearts for use in my red velvet cupcake recipe.

A couple of things did not go perfectly in this little baking craft.

I love my yellow Kitchenaid mixer!

I love my yellow Kitchenaid mixer!

First, I marbled pink gel color through my white cake, but after baking the hearts in to the cupcakes, you cannot tell that I even took the time to complete this step. The hearts just look like white cake. Which is fine, they are still cute 🙂

Second, I had filled my cupcake liners about 1/3-1/2 full of batter before sticking in my hearts. I then covered the hearts with more batter, making sure that they remained upright. I assumed as long as the batter is covering the hearts, it will rise above the heart. This did not happen, my hearts rose with the cupcakes and ended up very close to the top of the cake. If I were to repeat this recipe, I would fill the cupcake liners only about 1/4 full and make sure my hearts are as close to the bottom as possible. I made this adjustment in my directions below. 

The recipe I am using for my red velvet cupcakes is here

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Prep: 20 minutes     Cook: 20 minutes     Yield: 20 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • Hearts are covered, ready for the oven!

    Hearts are covered, ready for the oven!

    1/2 cup butter

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 fluid ounce red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place 20 cupcake liners in muffin pans.

    Hearts are covered, ready for the oven!

    Hearts are covered, ready for the oven!

  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, buttermilk, red food coloring, and vanilla. Stir in the baking soda and vinegar. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, and salt; stir into the batter just until blended. 
  3. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, filling 1/4 full.*
    1. Place a prepared heart standing upright in the center of each cupcake, being careful to have all the hearts facing the same direction so you remember which way to serve them!*
    2. Disperse the remaining batter evenly among the cupcake liners, making sure your hearts will be covered during baking.*
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 20 minutes. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack. 

*I added these directions so that you will have hidden hearts in your cupcakes ❤

Cream Cheese Icing

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract last.
  2. Prepare piping bag with star tip. Spoon icing in to bag and decorate your cupcakes!

I topped with some Valentine’s colored sprinkles and some red hot lip sprinkles. Get creative with your decorating, that’s the fun part!

Enjoy!

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Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cheesecake

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Home for Sunday dinner and it feels so good.

I graduated with my Masters in December, cannot find a job, and Wills left me for the Canadian Wilderness for over a week… naturally I came home to wallow in my boredom with my family… and bake.

One of the best things about being at home is Sunday dinner when my Grandma Ruby comes over and we spend the day preparing something delicious. My part in this feast is typically dessert, and this week is no different.

My brother requested cheesecake and I have been craving something rich with chocolate so naturally when I found the recipe for a ‘Decadent Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cheesecake’ (p. 127) in the Better Homes and Gardens Best-Loved Reader Recipes magazine (2012), I almost jumped for joy- like literally!

The perfect marriage of everything I love!

Decadent Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Prep: 40 minutes   Bake: 45 minutes   Cool: 45 minutes   Chill: 4 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups finely crushed chocolate graham cracker squares
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup sugar

    Just out of the oven!

    Just out of the oven!

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate pieces
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. For crust, in a small bowl combine crushed graham crackers, melted butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Press mixture evenly onto bottom and 1 inch up sides of a 9-inch springform pan; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl beat one package of cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in peanut butter and ¼ cup sugar until combined. Fold in one egg; set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan cook and stir chocolate pieces over low heat until melted. Remove from heat. Cub the remaining cream cheese; stir into melted chocolate until smooth. Stir in milk and vanilla. Fold in two eggs. Spread half of the chocolate mixture over crust. Spoon peanut butter mixture over chocolate layer; gently spread to cover. Spread the remaining chocolate mixture over peanut butter layer.
  4. Bake about 45 minutes or until top is set when gently shaken. The outer 2 inches of the top will be slightly puffed and dry-looking; the center will look darker and wet.
  5. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Using a small sharp knife, loosen crust from sides of pan; cool for 30 minutes. Remove sides of springform pan; cool cheesecake completely on rack. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with peanuts*.

* I cut up Reese’s eggs and sprinkled them over the top instead of peanuts

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cheesecake...mmm...Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cheesecake…mmm…

Enjoy!

 

Blueberry Cheese Muffins

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My mother’s cookbook collection is more like a culinary library overflowing from shelves and cabinets, stacked to the ceiling atop of the kitchen hutch. It ranges in content from classic must-haves such as Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer & Marion Rombauer Becker, and Mastering the Art of French Cooking & The Way to Cook by Julia Child, to more diverse cultural classics such asClassic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni, and Foods of Italy by Giuliano Bugialli, to Amish cookbooks, vegetarian cookbooks, farmhouse cookbooks, grocery store checkout line magazines, and even some spiral bound collections of personal recipes.

The most prominent running theme in her collection however is: baking confections. She has countless collections of recipes for cookies, biscotti, breads, cakes, pies, scones, danish, rolls, and MUFFINS.

There is always some new treasure to find when perusing through her library. Yesterday, I came across one little gem that I had never seen before that caught my eye immediately (you can see why from the colorful cover art):

Granny’s Muffin House by Susan Ashby.

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Granny’s Muffin House is about 130 pages of Susan Ashby’s grandmothers muffin recipes. Written in a southern drawl, with personal anecdotes and descriptors for each individual recipe, this quirky collection of recipes is organized according to season and is just too much fun to read through!

The first recipe I decided to try from this wonderful collection of muffin recipes is called ‘Cherry Cheese Muffins’. Due to personal preference, I substituted blueberry preserves, making these muffins ‘Blueberry Cheese Muffins’ instead but I will post the original recipe. These were so fast and easy, and yummy!

As I said previously, each muffin has its own introduction.

The story of the ‘Cherry Cheese Muffin’ is as follows:

Granny’s cellar was home for a resident frog, who used to croak happily behind the spring left over from when Jud Bentley owned the place. Granny never bothered the critter, she always believed in your creature comforts. The old cellar overflowed with jams and jellies, ready to be tucked into goodies such as these cherry cheese muffins.

Cherry Cheese Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    Fresh out of the oven
    Fresh out of the oven
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 tablespoons cherry preserves
  • 6 tablespoons cream cheese, softened

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Sift the first 4 ingredients together.
  3. Stir in the egg, butter, and milk just until blended.
  4. Fill paper-lined muffin tins ½ full.
  5. Place ½ tablespoon cherry preserves, then ½ tablespoon cream cheese over each muffin. Cover with remaining batter, and bake approximately 20 minutes.

Yields 12 muffins.

Inside of the Blueberry Cheese Muffin, yum

Inside of the Blueberry Cheese Muffin, yum

Enjoy!