Valentines Day has come and gone and I was more than happy to spend it at home with my family. Who needs a significant other to enjoy Valentines Day anyways? Of course holidays, to me, are excuses to bake and I took that opportunity to finally start my Ben and Jerry’s themed cupcakes. You see, a few months ago I went through the list of ice cream on the Ben and Jerry’s website and made up cupcakes for all of the ones that sounded good to me. With Valentines Day approaching I looked back over that list and saw one that had Valentines like colors. Neapolitan Dynamite! How perfect!
Neapolitan Dynamite ice cream consists of Cherry Garcia (cherry ice cream with cherries and fudge flakes) and Chocolate Fudge Brownie (chocolate ice cream with fudge brownies) ice creams, side by side. I decided to replicate this by making a cupcake that was half cherry and half chocolate, filled with cherry chocolate ganache, and topped with some sort of cherry frosting. In the final moments I actually forgot to mix the cherry preserves into the chocolate ganache, but it was fine anyway.
My sister and I, luckily, each have our own Kitchen Aid stand mixer so I was able to prepare the ingredients and make both of these batters simultaneously. Don’t worry too much if you can’t do that, but I’d still suggest having all of your ingredients prepared before you start. It sure makes life easier! Also note that it doesn’t matter if you make them in the order that I listed. I listed each batter’s directions separately even though in the end you’ll bring them together.
To Start: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
(Recipe from Jacki’s Bento Blog)
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs, room temperature and separated
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2/3 cup maraschino cherry juice
- 1 10oz jar of maraschino cherries, finely chopped
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 4 or 5 minutes). Add two egg yolks and mix for an additional minute. Add remaining egg yolks and mix for an additional minute.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, combine milk and cherry juice.
- Alternate between adding dry ingredients and liquid ingredients to the butter mixture, a little bit at a time.
- Fold in chopped cherries.
- In small bowl, beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula, add about 1/2 cup of the egg whites to the mixture and fold in gently, to separate and lighten the batter. Add remaining egg whites and fold in gently until no white streaks are present.
(Recipe from Crazy about Cupcakes)
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 2/3 cup boiling water
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 + 4 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup plain yogurt, room temperature
- Place the cocoa in a small bowl. Pour the boiling water over cocoa and whisk until all lumps are dissolved. Add the bittersweet chocolate to the cocoa paste, and stir until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on a medium speed until fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat 1 minute after each addition. Add the vanilla.
- In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Mix at low speed until well integrated. Add the yogurt and mix well. Add the remainder of the dry ingredients. Mix until combined. Add the chocolate. Mix until blended. Do not overmix.
Time to put them in the pan! Fill cupcake tins half way with equal amounts of chocolate and cherry batter, side by side. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for five minutes before removing to a wire wrack. Allow to cool completely before decorating.
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 2 or 3 tablespoons of cherry preserves (I forgot to do this part)
- Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the heavy cream until simmering, then pour over chocolate.
- Stir for about a minute until chocolate has completely melted.
- Add the butter and preserves and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.
This was my first time making swiss meringue buttercream. I had always been too afraid to bother with it, but now that I have I’m definitely sticking to it. American buttercream tastes more like powdered sugar mush, but swiss meringue buttercream is silky, rich, and just plain amazing. Then again, if you have swiss meringue fears like I had, then I’d recommend watching this video. It’s incredibly helpful and makes the frosting seem less intimidating. The woman in the video also explains the curdling effect that happens when making swiss meringue and assures you that it’s supposed to look like that. When mine looked like a curdled soupy mess I decided to take her word for it and continue to let it mix for a few more minutes. Right before my eyes my frosting transformed from the soupy mess to beautiful, thick, and silky buttercream frosting. It was amazing!
Cherry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(Recipe from Tofu and Cupcakes)
- 5 large egg whites
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into tablespoons
- 3 tablespoons cherry preserves
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- Pink or Red food coloring (optional)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk egg whites gently with a pinch of salt.
- Add sugar and stir.
- Place the bowl over a small pot of simmering watering so the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water and whisk vigorously until the sugar is melted about 4-5 minutes. The mixture will become thick and white. Test by rubbing mixture between your thumb and index finger; if you can feel the grains of sugar it’s not ready. It should feel completely smooth. At the this point the eggs are pasteurized and safe to eat.
- With the whisk attachment of the electric miser, beat on high for about 7 minutes until shiny, stiff peaks form.
- Lower to medium speed add in softened butter one or two tablespoons at a time until butter is completely incorporated.
- Switch to paddle attachment and set the speed to low. Add in Cherry Preserves, almond extract and food coloring. Mix for about 5 minutes to eliminate any air bubbles.
I didn’t feel like going all the way out to Michael’s to get some Valentines Day sprinkles so instead I used red jimmies from my Christmas set, the pink sanding sugar from my Easter one, and some white nonpareils that I had on hand. Those themed sets come in handy when you least expect them to!
- Once your cupcakes have fully cooled, then it’s time to use the cone method (see cupcakeblog for visual reference) to cut out the center.
- With a knife, cut out a cone from the center of the cupcake and cut the tip off of it. Set cone piece aside.
- Spoon the cooled chocolate ganache into the center of the cupcake and replace the cone piece on top.
- Fill a piping bag with frosting and pipe frosting on top of the cupcake.
- Decorate however you desire, eat, and enjoy!
These cupcakes were definitely a change from the usual types I make. I’ve never really been fond of fruit flavored foods and these surely didn’t win me over. I’m more of a chocolate, coffee, caramel dessert loving type of girl, but to each their own. I would like to note that I did, however, have one real problem with this recipe. The cherry batter rose higher than the chocolate and I think the chocolate side was also done before the cherry. If I was ever to do this again I’d probably just create a recipe myself that starts with a base so that I could add cherries or cocoa to it and still attain the same results from both sides. Oh well! At least I learned something from this experience.
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