Valentine’s Day Cupcakes

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with pink, hearts, and togetherness in these cupcakes! Vanilla cupcakes and frosting are swirled with pink and topped with minty candy hearts.

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As I came in from shoveling snow to bake these cupcakes, I was thinking about how much I associate snow with Valentine’s Day. The first year we were dating, my husband and I spent Valentine’s Day huddled in my dorm room weathering a massive blizzard (massive even by Canadian standards.) Perhaps because of the chance we’ll be snowed in, we’ve never been into fancy Valentine’s plans. It’s usually a nice dinner and dessert at home, followed by a cozy movie or game night. Since V-Day is a Sunday and we have the Monday off (thank you Joseph Howe), I imagine we’ll be watching Downton Abbey live instead of off the DVR for a change!

These adorable cupcakes are the perfect dessert for a special Valentine’s Day dinner. They’d also be really cute for a school party.

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If you’ve got leftover mini candy canes going stale in your cupboard, you can use them to make sweet heart toppers. Candy canes all got eaten? Save the idea for next year and just use candy melts to make hearts. These cupcakes are cute with a simple sprinkle topping too.

Start with a basic white cupcake batter. You can use your favourite recipe. These are a twist on Sally’s Baking Addiction’s White Wedding Cupcakes, made dairy-free with the help of these guys:

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Not sponsored – my grocery bill would be happier if So Delicious knew who I was. I’m addicted to that yogurt!

Standard cupcake ingredients. Red gel food coloring will help us get that colored swirl.

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Whisk your dry ingredients together.

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Whisk the sugar into the melted butter…

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Add the yogurt..

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Then mix in the milk and vanilla.

Gradually add the wet stuff to the dry and mix until just combined. Don’t overbeat the batter, but you don’t want any lumps either. DSCF6645

 

Pour half of the batter (about 1 ¼ cups) into a separate bowl. Tint one half of the batter to your desired color using food coloring. One reason I like Valentine’s day baking – pink is just as acceptable. No need to use a ton of color to get the perfect Christmas red. Use as much color as you need to get a color you like.

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What about the eggs, you ask? Did I forget about them?

We’re only using the whites, and folding them in at the very end helps to keep their volume. If we added the egg whites first, mixing the color in would deflate them.

Separate the eggs, placing each white in a separate bowl. Beat with a whisk or electric mixer until thick and foamy – you don’t need to beat them stiff.

Fold one egg white into each half of the batter.

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Now for the swirling!

Using a cookie scoop, place a dollop of one batter into the cup of the muffin tin.

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Add a scoop of the other batter on top of/beside it, and gently swirl the batters together with a toothpick.

 

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Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

While the cupcakes are baking and cooling, you can work on the heart toppers.

You’ll need mini candy canes (2 for each heart, so 24 in total), and candy melts. One 340 g bag should be enough. I bought candy cane flavoured melts at Christmas and never found a use for them, so now is the time!

The first task is the most tedious – unwrapping the candy canes.

Place the candy canes in pairs on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper or parchment. Touch the ends together to form heart shapes.

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Place the candy melts in a glass measuring cup and microwave on 50% power for 1 ½ to 2 minutes, checking and stirring frequently. Add a teaspoon or two of shortening if necessary to make the melts pourable.

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Pour the candy melts into the space between the candy canes. Use a toothpick to make sure it fills in all of the spaces, and smooth the top.

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If you don’t have any candy canes hanging around, you can just make the hearts out of candy melts.

Use a pen to trace around a heart-shaped cookie cutter on waxed paper. Flip the paper over.

Melt the candy melts, and pour into a piping bag or a freezer bag.

Snip the tip of the bag and pipe around the line you traced, forming the outline of the heart.

Pipe around the inside of the heart until it’s mostly filled with candy. Use a toothpick to fill in the gaps and smooth the surface.

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You can use a different color of candy melt to decorate the hearts, if you like. I melted a bit of red and used it to make some swirls and lettering.

Chill the hearts for 20 – 30 minutes, until set.

Next step is frosting! We’re just making a simple vanilla buttercream – butter, icing sugar, vanilla and a bit of milk or cream.

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You can do dairy-free subs here too, but since I wasn’t going to eat any I didn’t bother.

Beat the butter until it’s creamy, then add the vanilla and milk. Add the icing sugar while mixing on low speed, then turn up the speed and beat for a couple of minutes. The icing will get lighter in color and fluffy. Add a bit more sugar if it’s too thin, or milk if it’s too thick. Pop half of the icing into another bowl, and tint to your desired shade of red or pink.DSCF6681

 

I am by no means an expert with a piping bag – so if I can do this, so can you! I followed these tutorials and found them super helpful.

http://ourbestbites.com/2011/08/tutorial-how-to-swirl-colored-icing-for-cupcakes/

http://ourbestbites.com/2012/05/how-to-frost-cupcakes/

You’ll need 3 decorating bags. Bigger is better – I used a 12 inch bag and it wasn’t quite big enough.

Put a large piping tip (I used a 1M) into one of the bags.

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Fill one of the other bags with the pink icing. The easiest way is to put the tip in the bottom of a large drinking glass, and fold the edge over the rim. I always use these big Hogwarts glasses. Repeat with the white icing. Only fill the bags about halfway – otherwise you’ll have a mess!

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Flatten and stack the bags and slide them into the bag with the tip.

Now for the cupcakes! Pipe in a circle around the cupcake, then pipe smaller circles to fill in the middle. Your first cupcake or two might not be perfectly swirled, but as you keep going, they’ll get better!

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Top with the candy hearts.

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You can also toss on some Valentine sprinkles.DSCF6704
After going to all the trouble to make the hearts…I think I like the sprinkles just as well!

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The perfect treat for your sweetheart!

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I grabbed a cute box at the dollar store and packaged them up all fancy.

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Just a heads up – posts might be coming a little less frequently in the immediate future. I’ve had some changes in my job situation – good changes! – but they’re going to mean a lot less free time.

 

Valentine’s Day Cupcakes

  • Servings: 12
  • Print

Cupcakes adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Frosting adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 2/3 cups (210 grams) sifted all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (115 grams) butter or margarine, melted
  • ¼ cup plain or vanilla yogurt, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup milk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites, divided
  • Red gel food coloring (no-taste)

For the heart toppers:

  • 24 mini candy canes
  • 1 (340 gram) package candy melts (white, red, pink or candy cane)

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 ½ cups icing sugar, sifted if lumpy
  • ¼ cup milk or cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Red gel food coloring (no-taste)

Directions:

For the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Whisk in the sugar. Add the yogurt, milk and vanilla to the butter and whisk until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until no lumps remain.

Pour half of the batter into a separate bowl, and tint one half to the desired shade with food coloring.

Place each egg white into a separate bowl, and beat with an electric mixer until thick and foamy. Fold one egg white into the colored batter, and the other into the plain batter.

Using a cookie scoop, divide the plain batter between 12 muffin cups. Scoop the colored batter on top of the plain batter, and swirl the batters together with a toothpick.

Bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool complexly on a wire rack.

For the heart toppers:

Arrange candy canes on a waxed paper lined baking sheet, with the tips touching to form a heart shape. Place the candy melts in a glass measuring cup and microwave on 50% power, stirring frequently, until melted. Pour the candy melts between the candy canes, using a toothpick to fill in spaces and smooth the surface. Chill until firm, at least 20 minutes.

For the frosting:

Beat butter with the paddle attachment of stand mixer until fluffy. Add milk, vanilla and sugar and mix on low speed, then increase speed to high. Beat until the frosting is light in color and fluffy. Follow instructions above to fill piping bag, then frost cupcakes.

Top with candy hearts and/or sprinkles.

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