Saturday, February 1, 2014

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cupcakes

It's time for Valentine sweets. Now, the name on this one is a little bit deceiving. I went shopping and came upon Pillsbury's Valentine Funfetti cake, and everyone who knows what's what, knows that confetti cake is the best, so the actual cupcakes in this recipe are confetti, but the frosting is all cherry chocolate love!

That is not to say that you couldn't use a different flavor cake mix (though seriously, FUNFETTI!!!) like chocolate or cherry chip, or gluten free anything, if you dig on that. This is all in the name of love, so make what YOU love.

Me? I love funfetti (I think you might have caught onto that by now)!

What you'll need:

One Boxed Cake Mix, with the eggs, oil, and water they require.
One large jar of stemless maraschino cherries (you could also use fresh cherries that have been pitted)
2 sticks of butter
2/3 cup of plain Crisco (or other vegetable shortening)
5-6 cups powdered sugar
1 cup chocolate plus 1/4 cup grated (chips are fine, but bars would work too)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

You'll also need:
24 cup cupcake tin
24 paper cupcake liners (or 48 if you want to make them pretty by relining them after they bake)
A standard sized ice cream scoop
A bowl big enough to fit a cupcake into
2 gallon size plastic zipper bag
A quart sized plastic zipper bag
Cups to hold your plastic zipper bags
Small serrated knife (like a steak knife)

First step, preheat your oven and mix your cake according to the direction on the box.

Then get them into your cupcake tin (or those fantastic metal cupcake liners that don't need a cupcake tin, like I've used here). Filling them up 2/3 of the way makes for the best shaped/sized cuppies.

Next step is the ganache (which is a fancy word for chocolate frosting, in this case). In a microwave safe bowl, add your 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Microwave it for a minute or two, so that it is boiling.

When it comes out, (careful, it should be very hot) put your cup of chocolate chips directly into the cream and leave it alone for 2 whole minutes. If you are using bar chocolate, break it into smaller pieces before it goes in bowl. Now, two minutes undisturbed.

Seriously, stop messing with it. Okay, two minutes is up, now whisk.... carefully because that cream is extra sloshy.

It should end up looking like this.

Like a drippy, sensual hot fudge sauce... stop eating it! You need it for the cupcakes!

Now, on to the frosting. This is a cherry chocolate icing. Start with your butter, at room temp (or softened a bit in the microwave if you live somewhere as cold as I do, where butter never softens in the winter- I usually do it for 15-20 seconds) and cream the butter and the shortening together until they are completely combined and there aren't any lumps.

Next, add your powdered sugar one cup at a time. Start on low so you don't coat yourself and your kitchen with the sugar. Slowly integrate all of the sugar, a cup at a time. Taste as you go to get the right sweetness. Then let your mixer whip the frosting for two minutes on medium high.

Next step is to add the cherry flavor using the juice in the jar of maraschino cherries. I used 1/4 cup.

Take 24 cherries out of the jar and set aside to dry on paper towels for the final garnish.  Then finely mince by hand or finely chop 1/3 cup of cherries in a processor or blender. Leaving as much liquid behind as possible, add your cut up cherries in your frosting.

Then add 1/4 cup of grated chocolate. I used a processor to grind the chocolate. That also gets added to the frosting.

And mixed until it all comes together nicely. It might try to separate when you put the cherries in, but just keep whipping it and it should come together and look like frosting.

By now, your cupcakes should be out of the oven. Take them out of the pan to cool, because we need them completely cook to frost them.

Once again, I am using my fancy decorating method of putting a plastic zipper bag in a big cup to hold my bag while I get the frosting in there. If you are actually fancy and want to use an actual piping bag, go for it. I am eating all of these myself, so I'm fine with a makeshift piping bag. You will need two of these. I just use two bags because refilling an empty used bag is really messy, but you are welcome to refill your first bag  if you like.

Our ganache has cooled a whole lot by now and has thickened quite a bit. About half of it will go into your quart sized zipper bag (the rest is for dipping the tops).

Now, using our grapefruit knife (it is totally fine if you do not have a grapefruit knife -- I imagine most people don't-- any serrated knife will work fine, or a paring knife will work in a pinch), cut a small core out of the center of your cupcake. It should only be deep enough that you can fit the tip of your finger (to the first knuckle) in it. If it goes all the way to the bottom, your filling will fall out when you unwrap the cupcake!

And now we get to fill all of those holes with delicious, delicious ganache! 
Cut off a corner and pipe it on in there.

Like so! It is up to you to decide what you get to do with all those middles you cut out though.

Now, we put our cherry chocolate frosting on the cupcakes. Since these makeshift bags don't have the neatest delivery system, and our frosting has specks of cherry and chocolate, you may need to smooth your frosting with a knife. It's okay, it is getting covered with ganache. I found though, that going around the edges at an angle, then filling the middle worked best.

Now you want to rewarm your remaining ganache so it is more liquid again, about 20 seconds. If it is too thick, you can add a little more cream and reheat it, for about 20 seconds again. Make sure to stir it so it is nice and smooth and ready for dipping.

Now, take your frosted cupcake, turn it over, and dip it into the warmed ganache. Just go right in and come right back up. If you swirl too much in there, your frosting can fall right into it. You can also refrigerate your cupcakes for a while if it is really hot in your kitchen, so you don't lose your frosting in the ganache.

And there you have a lovely chocolate dipped cherry frosted cupcake. 

Now do that with the rest of the cupcakes, and add those cherries that you dried off earlier to the top.

Isn't it cute inside? The chocolate filling makes a kinda heart shape in there!

My next step to make them pretty is to add a festive cupcake liner over the ones we baked the cupcakes in so they can be extra adorbs! And then... the nomming.

These are really an awesome gift for Valentine's day. I love treating all my friends with Valentine goodies.

Who needs a boyfriend when you have cupcakes!?

And if you have someone to Valentine the heck out of you, you can Valentine them right back with these sweet treats!

They're almost as sweet as people will think you are when you share these yummy cupcakes!

Or you could eat them all yourself, like me!

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