If there is a combination that just screams Valentine's Day, it has to be chocolate-strawberry. The quintessential romantic dessert is chocolate covered strawberries, so of course anything with that flavor combo will seem romantic and indulgent.
Since strawberries are just starting to come into season, I knew I wanted to share a fun Valentine's dessert that featured them. I considered whoopie pies, macarons, or mousse, but since cupcakes are really my true love, I went with those. I used my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, and topped them with my favorite strawberry buttercream recipe. I actually shared this recipe for chocolate cupcakes in the early days of my blog, but it is kind of buried within another post, and I've made some changes since then, so I'm going to share it here as well.
The buttercream is a Swiss meringue buttercream, and is one of my favorite icings ever. It is so smooth and silky, and it has a light buttery flavor that is offset by sweet strawberries. I've made it several times to go with strawberry cupcakes, but I really love it with the chocolate as well. The combination of the rich chocolate cupcake and sweet buttercream is truly a match made in heaven... just like me and my sweetheart! :-)
If you are looking for ideas for dinner and dessert for the big day, check out my Featured Recipes page. I've updated it with what I think are romantic meals!
makes about 30 cupcakes
adapted from Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup hot coffee
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt. Stir the ingredients together over low speed. Add the eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Mix at medium speed until well-combined, about 2-3 minutes. Carefully add the coffee and beat on the lowest setting to combine. Remove bowl from the mixer and stir with a rubber spatula until well-combined.
Fill each muffin tin 2/3 full, and bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in the muffin tins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Strawberry Swiss-Meringue Buttercream
adapted from Martha Stewart, Cupcakes
makes about 5 cups
- 1 1/2 cups diced strawberries
- 4 egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature
Combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer set over a small pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until the sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
Attach the bowl to the stand mixer and fit with the whisk attachment. Starting on low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, mix until still (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until until the mixture is light, fluffy, glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the mixing bowl), about 10 minutes.
With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing well between each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, increase the speed to medium, and mix until the buttercream comes together (it can take up to several minutes, but it will come together eventually). Switch to the paddle attachement and beat at medium-low speed to remove air bubbles, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the strawberry puree, and mix to combine.
Frost cupcakes as desired, and garnish with strawberry slices just before serving.