It’s nearly that time of year again. Now, Cam and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s, especially because our anniversary is 2 days later. But I do love the excuse to bake to a theme. Last year I made a set of cookie embossers in the style of Love Hearts, known elsewhere as Sweet Hearts or Conversation Hearts. The embossers are still available for purchase here.
Last year I made cookies with them. This year I decided to switch it up by using them to make little cupcake toppers instead!
For this batch of cupcakes I turned to my favourite chocolate cake recipe. Not only is it the most decadent and moist chocolate cupcake, its ridiculously easy. The the point that these days I just shove all the ingredients straight into a jug and mix it there.
Especially when I’m using the recipe for cupcakes. Less dishes and easy to pour.
An easy 20 minutes in the oven produces perfectly domed cupcakes. They smell so delicious it’s hard to resist eating them warm and fresh out of the oven.
Time to distract myself! While they were cooling I set about making the toppers. I hadn’t used the embossers on fondant before, but it could only be easier than using them on sticky cookie dough. I switched it up a little by using a round scalloped cutter as it just looks a little cuter on cupcakes.
It’s really important to let the fondant dry so the toppers become stiff. The thinner you roll it, the quicker that will be. While they dried out I turned to making the buttercream.
I considered a couple different flavours, but really, they’re for Valentine’s Day. It’s gotta be chocolate.
I used my favourite 2D piping tip to get the soft, frilly swirls atop the cupcakes.
I gave them a moment to set up before topping them with the fondant cupcake toppers.
If the fondant hasn’t dried out, and the buttercream hasn’t set, the toppers can absorb a lot of moisture from the cupcakes and will start to sweat and sag. A little patience gives a crisp finish.
I’ve baked a lot of chocolate cupcakes over the years, but I’m yet to find anything that comes close to this recipe. And for a celebration that’s all about chocolate, there’s no other that tastes so appropriate.
Here’s how to whip up an easy batch of these cupcakes.
Sweet Heart Cupcakes
A rich, moist chocolate cupcake that's a breeze to make.
• 1 1/4 (190g) cups plain flour
• 1 cup (220g) caster sugar
• 1/3 cup (35g) cocoa powder
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
• 1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil
• 1 cup (250ml) water
• 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
• 1 tsp vanilla essence
• 200g butter, softened
• 2 cups icing sugar, sifted
• 1tbsp vanilla essence
• 1/4 cup cocoa powder
• 1/4 cup warm water
• Optional: 50g fondant + gel food colouring
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced/350°F). Line a cupcake tray with patty pans.
- Sift all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. In a separate bowl or jug, mix together the wet ingredients.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Whisk the flour mixture in until well combined and there are no lumps in the batter (you’ll need to work reasonably quickly as the vinegar will begin to react with the bicarb soda as soon as it meets).
- Divide the batter between the cupcake liners.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cake is well risen (it will bounce back when gently poked, or a skewer inserted into the middle will emerge clean).
- Leave them to cool inside the tray for 10 minutes, then remove to cool completely.
- Place butter, vanilla essence and 1/4 of the icing sugar in a large mixing bowl; beat until combined, then gradually add in the rest of the icing sugar 1/4 at a time.
- In a small bowl, combine the water and cocoa and mix to form a smooth paste. Add it to the buttercream mixture; beat for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
- Pipe or spread the icing onto the top of the cupcakes.
- If making the toppers, roll out thin pieces of coloured fondant. Use cutters and embossers to create the text and then allow to dry until completely stiffened. Adorn cupcakes with the toppers after buttercream has started to set.