Heart Month Cupcakes

heart-month-cupcakesIt’s American Heart Month! As some of you know, I manage heart and vascular marketing for a medical center in Pittsburgh, and Heart Month is a big deal. We have events all throughout February that encourage people to get heart screenings so they can learn about heart disease risks. My cube is decked out with heart decorations, and I’m featuring daily heart tips on my dry erase board all month long.

Okay, so maybe it’s a little strange that the heart marketing gal is also the office baker. While cupcakes could never be construed as heart-healthy, being baked with butter, sugar, and eggs, they do make people happy. And happiness is an important part of heart health, so…you be the judge. These cupcakes make a large batch of 30, so they’d also be great for a Valentine’s Day party.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 2/3 tablespoons butter, slightly softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk

For the frosting

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tablespoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
  • Wilton Fill Your Heart sprinkles*

*I found these sprinkles at Joann; craft stores are always a great source of holiday-themed baking supplies. 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line three cupcake tins with paper liners; if you don’t have three, just let one of your tins cool down after baking one of your batches before you do your last batch.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for one minute. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until well combined.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each.

Add flour mixture and milk alternatively, beating until combined.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, scoop batter into prepared muffin cups, filling about half-full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack before frosting.

To make the frosting, place butter in a mixing bowl and beat for a few minutes using the paddle attachment.

Add 3 cups powdered sugar.  With your mixer on low, beat until all of the sugar is incorporated into the butter. This will take a few minutes, and I find that placing a kitchen towel over the mixer during this stage prevents a powdered sugar blizzard.

Once all of the sugar is incorporated, scrape down your bowl and beat on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes.

Add vanilla extract, almond extract, and 1 tablespoon milk and beat on medium for another 2 minutes.

Scrape down your bowl, then add the remaining half-cup of powdered sugar and half-tablespoon milk, beating for another 1-2 minutes until completely combined.

Fit a 14-inch piping bag with a Wilton M1 tip and pipe swirls of frosting onto each cupake; you’ll have enough for all 30 cupcakes as long as you don’t go too overboard with your portions.

Sprinkle each cupcake with Wilton Fill Your Heart sprinkles (or other heart-shaped sprinkles). Note: I don’t recommend dipping the cupcakes in the sprinkles, as this will result it sprinkle overload. Because these sprinkles are so large, it’s best to literally sprinkle them onto each cupcake.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.

Makes 30.

 

Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

 

 

 

 

 

 

What can you say about a classic?  The yellow cake/chocolate frosting combination is the little black dress of baking, one that baker should have it in her repertoire.  There seems to be something magical in the pairing of rich chocolate buttercream with mellow yellow cake, in the same way that a chocolate cupcake is finely matched with vanilla buttercream.  They say opposites attract, right?

Yellow Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 2/3 tablespoons butter, slightly softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line two muffin tins with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for one minute.

Add sugar and vanilla and beat until well combined.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each.

Add flour mixture and milk alternatively, beating until combined.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, scoop batter into prepared muffin cups, filling about half-full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack before frosting.

 

Chocolate Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation

In a large bowl, sift together powdered sugar and cocoa powder; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter for about one minute.

Add powdered sugar and cocoa and beat on low speed to incorporate as much sugar into the butter as you can.  I cover my mixing bowl with a kitchen towel during this step to prevent a sugar storm.

Add three tablespoons milk and two teaspoons vanilla extract; beat for three minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl and add the final teaspoon vanilla extract, then beat for another minute.