Valentine's Day was never my favorite holiday. That is until I met the love of my life. We try to make every day Valentine's Day, but on February 14th we do a little something extra to show each other how much we love them. I will admit I'm super hard to buy for. I don't hint around, I don't make lists. Most guys would love to have a wife or girlfriend tell them “You don't have to buy me anything!” My husband however, HATES this about me! He said I drive him crazy by not helping him with gift ideas. I don't know if its because I'm not super girlie, or if I was just raised to believe that material things don't matter. They are just things. I'd much rather have a home cooked meal than an expensive dinner out. I'd rather have a homemade card than a $5 Hallmark. The best birthday cake I ever had was one that my kids made from a cake mix. I think that if you take the time to sit down and think of an idea and to actually make it with your hands and heart, that is far better than anything money can buy. I can't wait to give Bill what I made for him this year!! (I will post pics too!)
So this year for Will's Valentine's Day class party we are making edible treats. I decided to make a very special cupcake and use those as his valentines. We did a trial run, can't risk handing out icky valentine treats! This recipe was a huge success! I absolutely love anything with vanilla bean in it so these cupcakes are heavenly to me. Laffy Taffy Butter Cream Icing...awesome!! Not to mention the sweet heart surprise inside! The kids devoured them! These do take a little bit of work but it is so worth it!
Vanilla Bean Cupcake Batter Ingredients:1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
Recipe adapted from Bake It In a Cake
Recipe adapted from Bake It In a Cake
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/2 vanilla bean
2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/3 c. whole milk
red or pink food coloring
Laffy Taffy Butter Cream Ingredients:
10 pieces of strawberry or cherry Laffy Taffy candy
2 T. heavy cream
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).
Mix the butter and sugar together at medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until creamy. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl so everything gets well combined. Split vanilla bean down the center and gently scrape out all the seeds. Add the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and vanilla bean seeds and mix until the batter is smooth. Finally, alternate between the flour and milk, beating on med-high speed until the batter is light and creamy.
Pour about 1 1/2 cups of batter into a smaller bowl. Add red or pink food coloring until you get your desired color. Pour the batter into a non-stick (or lightly greased) 8x8 baking pan and bake for about 20 minutes until the edges of the cake start to turn golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely.
Once the sheet cake is cool, loosen the edges away from the pan with a knife and then invert the pan onto a cutting board. Use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out a dozen cake hearts that are small enough to fit into an average-sized cupcake pan. (My cutter is about 2 inches wide.)
Spoon two heaping tablespoons of the remaining batter into paper-lined cupcake tins, so they’re about half-full. Put one heart into each tin and press it point down into the batter. Keep all the hearts facing forward in the pan. Cover with another teaspoon of batter and bake for 24 minutes or until done. Remember that the center cake is already done so test for doneness on the side of the cupcake. Allow to cool completely before frosting. Pay close attention and keep the cupcakes facing the same direction. It is crucial to keep them facing the correct direction so that when you bite into the cake you will see the heart. Otherwise you will just see a pink blob!
ICING DIRECTIONS:Melt the taffy and the heavy cream together in a small bowl for one minute on high, stirring every 20 seconds. Stir the mixture together until it’s smooth, then stick it in the fridge so it cools a bit (the cream will keep it from hardening).
In a mixing bowl, whip the butter until it’s smooth. Add the powdered sugar, a half cup at a time, whipping until fluffy. Finally, with the mixer on medium-low, drizzle in the melted and cooled taffy mixture. When it’s all in, turn the mixer up to high and whip the frosting until it’s fluffy. If you’d like, add a little pink or red food coloring to get the desired shade. Then frost! I like to add little valentine candies to the top of the frosted cupcakes. This not only looks cute and festive it also shows you what direction you bite the cupcake to insure you see the heart inside!!