buttercream in bloom

What was observed as a day to honor St. Valentine became the day for courtly love. From chocolates to flowers, the Valentine’s day has evolved into romance, since the 15th century. While it’s the day for couples to express their undying love, Valentine’s day is indeed a black market for your neighborhood florist.

Lucky them, besides having to attend to the pressing need for flowers on frequent solemn occasions.

February the 14th brings me to the best romantic stories. The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Notebook, Love Actually, and Beauty & the Beast. Yes, I am a sucker for romance in print or on screen. Charge me guilty but watching or reading about another so in love gives you that fluttery feeling inside every nook and cranny of your tummy. You sigh, tear, ooh and awwww. It makes you wish for the close to impossible but…

…sometimes it’s nice to make believe once in a while.

I’m sorry I posted this on Valentine’s Day itself. But then again, to celebrate your love for one another shouldn’t just fall on this day. An excuse It’s reasoning on my part and the duty of us all. You don’t have to find any special reason to make these lovelies for your loved ones. (:

Swiss meringue buttercream is my go-to frosting from now on. Please ditch the traditional icing sugar and butter method. The Swiss style is so much tastier and lighter on your taste buds. For these cupcakes, I used Lebovitz’s chocolate cupcake recipe and added orange zest for that citrusy hint of flavor. It’s my first go at piping roses and chrysanthemums so please forgive the messy job above.

For piping tips, there are a few places to learn from on this big brother internet of ours.

To name a couple,

1) how to pipe roses
2) how to pipe chrysanthemums (video)

Having made these cupcakes before, I can say no less than yum. The cake’s light and moist all at the same time. Now that is what I love in cakes. Not those dense sponges so dry they could choke your esophagus. Feel free to improvise. Make a well in the cake for jam or extra cream spiked with baileys. You could even make hostess cupcakes and pipe sweet nothings on top.

Possibilities are endless when love is actually all around.

(Sorry, couldn’t help that last cheesy bit there)

Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!

On a side note, my friend and I have come up with a series of posts over at Bree. It’s our Valentine’s Day Special where love is in the air and all around. Come support us, follow us as a reader if you like us. xoxo

Chocolate-Coffee Cupcakes

from David Lebovitz’s Ready For Dessert

makes 12 cupcakes or more

 1 1/4 C (175 g) All-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 C (250 ml) strong brewed coffee

6 tbsp (50 g) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1/2 C (115 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temp

1 1/4 C (275 g) packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs, room temp

2 tsp vanilla extract

Zest of one orange

Preheat the oven to 350 F or 175 C. Line a standard 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

To make the cupcakes, into a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a medium saucepan, heat the coffee until almost boiling. Remove from heat, and whisk in the cocoa till dissolved, then add the butter, stirring until melted. Whisk in the brown sugar and let cool until tepid. Whisk in the eggs, vanilla and orange zest, then stir in the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Don’t overmix.

Divide the batter among the cupcake liners and bake until the cupcakes feel just set in the center, 20 to 22 minutes. (It really depends on your oven. The temperature of your oven may not be the most accurate. Gauge for yourself.) Let cool completely.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Recipe adapted from Alice Medrich for Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker via bakers royale

for this batch of cupcakes, you may like to half the recipe below like I did. But if you really like frosting, and I mean really, I can’t say no but “go ahead!”

5 large egg whites
11/2 cup sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, diced and softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla

1. Combine egg whites and sugar in a bowl placed over simmering water. Bring mixture to 150 degrees F while whisking constantly.

2. Transfer mixture to stand mixer bowl, fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until mixture cools and doubles in volume. At this point, make sure it is whipped to medium peaks. Very crucial.

3. Add butter in one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. The mixture may appear clumpy and almost curdled looking-this is normal. Keep mixing and it will become even and smooth again. Add salt and vanilla and mix to combine.

4. To pipe roses, you need tips such as a Wilton 104. There will be different sizes so it all depends on what size of the flowers you prefer. Flower nails are useful if you wish to decorate cakes and frosted cupcakes. For me, I piped them easily onto the cupcakes themselves. A flower nail may not be necessary.

5. As for the chrysanthemums: Here’s a technique from Martha.

Fill in a piping bag fitted with a coupler to easily change tips. Start with a No. 12 round tip and pipe a 1/2″ round dot on the center of the cupcake. Switch to a No. 80 tip (I used a No. 81, and this is the tip that looks like a “U”). Hold the tip at a 45 degree angle next to the dot. Squeeze and pull out in a quick stroke. Continue around the dot, then make a second, third, and fourth layer of petals on top of the first, making the petals shorter each time.

Finally switch to a No. 3 tip (a tiny open circle) and pipe three little dots on top.

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