Monday, February 14, 2011

Sweet Valentine's Day!

Nothing says I love you like a baked representation of someone’s sweetness! While I personally loathe Valentine’s Day as a bunch of commercialized crock, I take full advantage of it as yet another excuse to blow up my kitchen and my kidneys with an excess of sugary love. This year was no exception.

Billa is obsessed with Scooby Doo and I found cute Scooby valentine cards and pencils. I’m saving the pencils for goodie bags for her birthday party (which will be Scooby Doo themed, natch), but the cards were perfect to slip on a cookie pop!   I mixed up some turquoise and apple green icing to coordinate the cookie pops (because I’m a freak like that) and they came out super cute. I had grand plans for these, but I saved myself a whole lotta trouble at the last minute when I remembered that they were for toddlers. No point in gilding the lily for an unappreciative crowd! I added little pink hearts on them to girly them up just a tad, which unfortunately ended up looking more like blobs, but whatever. The kids liked them and that’s all that matters!

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The remaining icing and cookie dough became Valentine themed sugar cookies for an impromptu dinner party we had Sunday night with my little brother and his girlfriend. I’ve wanted to try new designs and I am in love with these little lovebirds. They were so easy to create too. I may have to use these for my sister-in-law’s wedding shower later this year…they’re so adorable! And I really like the color scheme of the turquoise, apple green, and pink for Valentine’s day; it reminds me of the current Valentine’s products at Target this year which are super adorable.

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Lastly, I sugared up my coworkers with some homemade Valentine-themed Hostess cupcakes that I saw over at Bake at 350. I LOVE Hostess cupcakes, even though they’re probably one of the worst things a human being can consume. These are waaaaaay better than their inspiring counterpart. I was lazy and did the cupcakes from a mix (hey, I was supermom the past week and took care of a sick little girl and her daddy, not to mention fought off the plague myself, so I think I’m allowed some leeway once in awhile!) and I have to say, it’s entirely unfair that the box mix created such perfectly domed cupcakes.; The yummy filling and frosting recipe is from scratch, and I used leftover royal icing to create the swirls on top with the word ‘love.’

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They were incredibly delicious and my coworkers loved them. If the word is short enough, these could be used for lots of different events. And imagine changing the color of the cake and frosting! I may bake these again next year but with red velvet cake, cream cheese frosting, and red lettering. Shoot, I might even do these for my daughter’s birthday party too. Recipe for the filling and ganache are below or you can follow the link for the original cake recipe and blog entry from Bake at 350.


Instructions for constructing the Hostess cupcakes:
  1. Bake chocolate cupcake according to package directions.
  2. Use a piping bag fitted with a filler tip (or wide tip) and insert it into each cupcake, squeezing gently until filling is just beginning to ooze out.
  3. Let sit in the fridge for a few minutes, while you mix up the ganache.
  4. Once the ganache has cooled a bit, gently dip each filled cupcake into the chocolate and set aside to set up.
  5. Put your choice of icing into another piping bag and pipe the trademark swirls and word of your choice across the top.

For the Filling
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup marshmallow creme

Using a mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar. Add the vanilla and 1 tablespoon heavy cream; beat until smooth. Beat in the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons heavy cream in batches, alternating after each addition. Beat in the marshmallow creme; set aside or refrigerate.
For the Ganache
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


Place the chocolate in a stainless-steel bowl. Heat the cream and 1 tablespoon butter until just boiling, then pour over the chocolate; let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla; let stand until cool but still glossy and liquid.



I hope you all had a lovely Valentine’s Day with your loved ones, and that this post inspires you to be a ‘sweet’heart to all you meet!

Happy Valentine’s Day!
Kelly

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