Besides being pretty to look at, these cupcakes are delicious. The first time I made these cupcakes was for my niece’s first birthday in 2008. The kitchen might have been a mess, but my mom, sister, and I had fun making them. The original cupcakes were filled with Meyer lemon curd and had raspberries on top of the buttercream. For Valentine’s this year I was inspired to switch the lemon curd for creamy chocolate ganache, add some Wilton’s pink food coloring to the buttercream, and decorate the top with lacy chocolate hearts instead of raspberries. They do take some time when you combine all of the contributing parts, but feel free to make the cupcakes, ganache, and chocolate hearts ahead of time. The results are most definitely worth the time. *See bottom for tips on reheating ganache.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
5 large eggs, separated
1 ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 cup plus scant 1/3 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
5 oz 62% cacao chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup sifted powdered sugar
3 ¼ oz heavy cream
1 large egg yolk
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
vanilla bean butter cream
4 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature) in pieces
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean scraped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup milk
chocolate filigree hearts
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
for the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with cupcake liners; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla; beat to combine. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift together both flours, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. With the mixer on low, add flour mixture; mix until well combined. Add sour cream; mix until well combined.
With a hand-held blender, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into batter.
Fill each muffin cup half full with batter. Transfer muffin tins to oven and bake until a skewer inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean, 20-24 minutes. (When gently pressed with a finger, the indent should spring back.) Let cool completely.
Using an apple corer, make a hole in the top of each cupcake by pressing the corer in gently, giving it a quarter turn and removing, taking care not to push the corer through the bottom. Remove cake from the hole. Fill a squeeze bottle, or use a piping bag to pipe ganache into the holes.
Fit a pastry bag with a 3/8 inch (or similar) round tip and fill with butter cream. pipe butter cream in a circular motion on top of each cupcake. Gently press a chocolate heat into the frosting of each cupcake.
for the ganache: Combine the chocolate and powdered sugar in a heatproof bowl.
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a gentle simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Nest the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Heat, stirring, until all of the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Whisk the egg yolk in a small heatproof bowl. Pour about ¼ cup of the melted chocolate mixture into the yolk, while whisking, to temper them. Pour the tempered mixture back into the pan of chocolate and whisk to combine. Add the butter and stir until smooth.
for the chocolate filigree hearts: Trace the inside of a 2 inch heart shaped cookie cutter onto parchment 30 times using a pencil. (Or just freehand them) Flip the parchment over and transfer to a baking sheet.
Melt the 4 oz of chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a parchment cone, re-sealable plastic bag, or piping bag, snip a tip to make a small hole in the cone or re-sealable plastic bag.
Pipe chocolate into hearts, following the outlines and filling in with squiggles (be sure squiggles are at least ¼” thick so hearts won’t break when removed.)
Freeze hearts until set, about 15 minutes. Remove gently by hand or using an offset spatula. Refrigerate until needed.
For the frosting: Beat the butter until creamy. Slowly add sugar, beat to combine, scraping bowl as necessary. Add vanilla bean seeds, vanilla extract, and salt and beat to combine. Slowly add milk and continue beating until smooth and creamy. Beat in a bit of pink food coloring if desired.
*When ganache is chilled, it quickly hardens to a solid. To reheat for pouring or spreading, scoop it into a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute. If after 1 minute it hasn’t yet reached it’s original consistency, microwave on 50% power for 10 second intervals, stirring between each, until it reaches the desired consistency. You might need to add 1 or 2 tablespoons of hot water to loosen a cold ganache. For use in these cupcakes, whip the ganache with an electric mixer for 5 minutes or until the ganache cools a bit and thickens slightly. Pipe or squeeze into the cupcake holes.