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Cupcake Cupid

Posted: February 9, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 9, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Take me to Italy, chocolate double love and be my spicy red Valentine cupcakes are sure to satisfy a sweet tooth or a sweetheart this Valentine’s Day.

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Merry Graham is a Newhall resident, fantastic home cook and winner of numerous recipe contests.

This Valentine’s Day, if you start craving cupcakes, look around. Perhaps the Cupcake Cupid has struck you!

The Latin meaning for Cupid is desire and it is said if Cupid shoots his arrow of love and hits you, you will fall helplessly and madly in love with the next person you meet. This Valentine’s, I believe the Cupcake Cupid is aiming his arrows for you to get hit with the desire for something sweet. Go ahead and satisfy it with a scrumptiously sweet cupcake.

The thought of writing an article featuring four different Valentine’s cupcakes sounded well, SWEET, but my desire to create uniquely dazzling diminutive cakes with creamy frosting proved to be a bit daunting. A brilliant thought came to me — contact a local bakery.

With just a quick call I had Megan from The Poached Pair smiling at my doorstep with a dozen assorted cupcakes. The Poached Pair has been baking up mouth-watering scones, cookies and cupcakes from a small commercial kitchen here in the Santa Clarita Valley so perhaps you haven’t heard of their bakery. However, their storefront bakery will be opening soon in the yellow Victorian Buildings on Lyons Avenue.

“We’re not trying to fool you with fancy decorations or over-the-top creations, we just want to make the best-tasting food out there,” Megan said.

I concur. I’ve nibbled on their delectable scones, and served their wonderfully chewy, moist, coconut macaroons along with their snickerdoodles and chocolate mole biscotti. Delicious, yes, and let me add, gorgeous to look at too.

No wonder The Poached Pear bakes lusciously sweet cupcakes, beautifully presented. Megan’s mother and Poached Pear partner, Marcy, is a professional pastry chef while Marcy spent time as an interior designer in San Francisco and attended culinary school.

The cupcake photos here are from The Poached Pair. However, Megan and Marcy would not leak their secret ingredients, not even to me, Merry, their new best friend, so I had to create my own recipes inspired by their beautiful little cakes.

If baking is an artistic expression or a fun scientific challenge to you, try making a batch of my cupcakes. Or if you would rather avoid being a kitchen Pigpen with flour smudges and sugar flying, then just pick up the phone and place an order with the bakery of your choice.

No matter your method of meeting that cupcake craving, I hope you have a sweet Valentine’s Day.

Coconut crazy
4-U cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup superfine sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten,
room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
extract
2 teaspoons coconut extract
2 Tablespoons coconut
cream
1 1/4 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup grated coconut


Preheat oven to 400 F. Line 12-cup muffin pan with 12 paper liners. Place butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat together until light and fluffy.

Gradually beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in the milk, extracts, coconut cream until well mixed. Fold in flour and coconut.

Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until baked through and springy to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Frosting:
6 Tablespoons better
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons coconut
cream
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup toasted coconut


Beat all ingredients in a mixer until creamy and fluffy. Spread frosting on cupcakes and sprinkle with additional toasted coconut.

Chocolate double love cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coffee extract
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 12-cup muffin pan with 12 paper liners. Put the cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl. Add the boiling water and whisk until a smooth paste forms. Whisk in the buttermilk until combined.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cloves. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 2/3 cup butter with the granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about three minutes.

Beat in the egg and extracts, then beat in the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the cocoa mixture. Spoon the cupcake batter into the lined muffin cups. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the cupcakes are springy.

Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for five minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.

Frosting:
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate
2 to 4 cups powdered sugar


In a small saucepan, bring cream to a simmer.

Turn off heat and add chocolate to the cream.

Let stand for five minutes, then whisk the melted chocolate into the cream until smooth.

Let the chocolate icing stand until slightly cooled and thickened, about 15 minutes.

Add powdered sugar into chocolate cream and beat until desired creaminess and texture.

Frost cupcakes.

Take me to Italy cream cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cups sugar
3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs, separated, room temperature
1 tablespoons hazelnut syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, chopped


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 12-cup muffin pan with 12 paper liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in a bowl; set aside. Cream sugar and butter in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed until white and fluffy; about five minutes.

Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition; mix in syrup and vanilla until incorporated.

Mix half of the dry ingredients into butter mixture, followed by the buttermilk, then remaining dry ingredients; blend until just incorporated. Beat whites to stiff peaks in a bowl with a mixer on high speed; fold into batter with coconut and hazelnuts.

Fill liners to the top with batter and bake until toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Cool cupcakes in pan for about 20 minutes.

Transfer to a rack, then when completely cool and top with frosting.

Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup unstalted butter
2 Tablespoons hazelnut liquer
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
Powdered sugar


Whip cream cheese and butter together in a large mixer bowl at medium speed until combined.

Add syrup and cream.

Beat enough powdered sugar until creamy and desired texture.

Garnish with shredded toasted coconut and hazelnuts.

Be my spicy red velvet Valentine cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes
1 (18 1/4 ounce) package spice cake mix
2 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
5 large eggs
1/2 cup melted butter or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 (1 ounce) bottles red food coloring


Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 24-cups in 2 muffin pans. In a large bowl beat the cake mix with baking cocoa, eggs, butter, buttermilk and food coloring for about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Spoon the batter evenly between the muffin tins about two-thirds full. Bake according to package directions for cupcakes or cake. Remove from the pans immediately and cool completely on wire racks.

Frosting:
8 ounces cream softened cream cheese
1 1/2 cups softened unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons hazelnut syrup
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 lb. sifted powdered sugar


Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add syrup, heavy cream and powdered sugar; beat until fluffy. Frost cupcakes.

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