I've always had a funny little relationship with Valentine's Day.
As a kid, I guess it was kinda fun to pick out your mini valentine cards for all your classmates and eat candy, but as soon as 'love' started getting involved I became mostly uninterested.
Once, in the 6th grade, I was surprised to find a full-sized Hallmark card mixed in my stack of tiny envelopes. It was from a classmate of mine who apparently had a crush on me.
His name was Nick. And if I remember correctly, the card asked if I would be his girlfriend.
Such a sweet thing to do, right?
Well I wrote on it "Never in a million years" and promptly returned it to him.
I was a mean, horrible, rude little person at the age of 12. Definitely not my proudest moment.
(By the way, years later I sincerely apologized to Nick for being so awful to him in that situation, and we actually became friends).
But even though I can appreciate a gesture like that now, the truth is I'm still not much of a romantic.
I would choose to watch 300 over Sweet Home Alabama any day.
And while I do indulge in The Bachelor, I view it more as a train wreck you can't look away from then a fairy-tale love story.
Mr. Vittles would wholeheartedly agree. On one of the few occasions he tolerated Bachelor-viewing in his presence, he said to me "I don't understand why they always have to have rose petals & candles everywhere in this show - somebody's gotta go and light all those candles, and vacuum all those things up afterwards."
So luckily for him, I've really never been a fan of Valentines Day.
Not because I don't like love. I do! There's no better feeling in the world than truly being in love, no matter what stage of the relationship you're in.
But I don't need jewelry or overpriced dinners in the company of every other couple in America to celebrate my love.
Plus V-Day comes right on the heels of my birthday, so it seems wrong having my husband shower me with gifts twice in a matter of weeks.
Though I guess most ladies would welcome this. Some would even demand it.
But that's just not my style.
I can get down with a simple card, and maybe a little chocolate - best way to a Maggie's heart is through her stomach.
(Another true story).
Actually, some chocolate-covered strawberries would be excellent.
Almost as good is... a chocolate strawberry cupcake.
But since I'm fairly certain that Mr. Vittles will be making me neither of these treats, I guess it's up to me to do the baking!
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
- 1 stick (8 T.) butter, cut in 4 pieces
- 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 C. Dutch-processed cocoa
- 3/4 C. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 t. baking soda
- 3/4 t. baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 C. sugar
- 1 1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 t. salt
- 1/2 C. sour cream (4 oz.)
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven 350 degrees. Line a standard-sized muffin pan with baking-cup liners and set aside.
Combine butter, chocolate pieces, and cocoa in medium heat-proof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water, and heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted. Whisk until smooth & combined. Set bowl aside to cool mixture until just warm to the touch.
Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a small bowl to combine. Set aside.
In second medium bowl, whisk eggs to combine, then add sugar, vanilla and salt. Whisk until fully incorporated. Add chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add about 1/3 of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add sour cream and whisk to incorporate. Then add remaining flour mixture and whisk to combine, using a spatula as necessary to fold in any un-incorporated parts at the bottom of the bowl.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cupcakes comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.
Cool cupcakes in pan set on wire rack until cool enough to handle (about 15 minutes). Carefully lift each cupcake from pan, and set on wire rack to room temperature (about 30 minutes) before frosting with strawberry buttercream (recipe below).
- 3 large strawberries, hulled, washed & dried, and at room-temperature
- 1 stick (8 T.) butter, room temperature
- 1/4 t. vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- 3 - 4 C. powdered sugar
- 1 T. heavy cream
- 1 t. strawberry jam (optional)
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse berries until chopped. Add butter, vanilla, salt, and 2 C. of powdered sugar. Pulse until well-combined.
Add cream and small amounts of powdered sugar, pulsing after each, until strawberries are pureed and mixture reaches desired consistency. The frosting should be smooth & soft, yet hold its shape. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.
Store leftover cupcakes in refrigerator, and bring to room-temperature before serving again. Makes 12 cupcakes.*
*If you want to double the amount of cupcakes, make 2 separate batches of batter and bake separately. According to Cook's Illustrated, doubling the recipe and baking the trays together does not yield as good of a cupcake.
Cupcake Recipe Slightly Adapted from Cook's Illustrated; Buttercream Recipe Slightly Adapted from Sophistimom blog