For me I sit somewhere in the middle. I don’t believe that Valentine’s Day is a holiday of any real significance (and I do see it as more of a marketing plot) but I enjoy being able to use it as an excuse to be a little cornier than I could get away with on an ordinary day. It’s always nice to have a reason to show the ones we love just how much they mean to us.
The Hubby and I celebrate in a very casual way: no special dinners or huge undying proclamations of love. In fact this year I have been ditched for his weekly soccer game. Nevertheless we always make an effort to get something kind of quirky for each other. Last year I got him a mini-basketball hoop, the year before that a video game. Funnily enough, the Hubby maintains that one of the best gifts I ever gave him was the device which turned his light into a clapper (clap on, clap off) which was a Valentine’s Day present going back a few years. This year I’m giving him an ice-cream maker. You are probably thinking that sounds more like a gift for myself than him, but the passion for ice-cream lies with The Hubby in my home.
But this Valentine’s Day was a little different for me (my first as a wife) so I wanted to do something a more special – not really for The Hubby but more for my family and friends. Of course this meant whipping out the mixing bowl, beaters, sugar, flour and eggs to create some type of Valentine’s themed treat (despite The Hubby’s endless derision).
I already had the perfect recipe in mind: Linzer Heart Cupcakes. An absolute treasure which I found on an amazing blog: Not Quite Nigella which is full of fantastic recipes, food articles and many inspired ideas.
So I made a special effort to leave work earlier than usual and was very excited to begin baking when I got home. I had already bought red cupcake liners, a small heart shaped cookie cutter and cellophane over the weekend in order to make these sweets. After cooking a quick dinner, putting on a load of towels and changing the sheets on the bed I began baking…
It is an easy recipe (which is always good when you’re baking at 9pm) and the decorating is surprisingly simple given the prettiness of the cupcakes. The cake itself is extremely moist and fluffy, which could be the product of beating the sugar with canola oil (I tend to always use butter) and the taste was not too sweet.
I would definitely make these again (for different occasions by altering the shape of the cutter) and hope you will be inspired to try them yourself.
Linzer Heart Cupcakes
(Adapted from Not Quite Nigella)
For the Cake
- 1 1/2 cups white/caster sugar
- 3/4 cups canola oil
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Approx. 1 1/2 cups any jam (I used strawberry)
- Approx. 1/2 cup icing sugar for dusting
- You will need a small heart shaped cutter
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F and line a cupcake baking pan with paper liners.
- Use a handheld electric mixer to beat sugar and oil together in a large bowl.
- Then cream in eggs until light and fluffy (best to add them in one at a time).
- Beat in milk and vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.
- Gradually beat dry ingredients into wet until just combined with a wooden spoon. When you only have a little pit of dry ingredients left use a whisk. Make sure not to over-mix.
- Fill each cupcake with batter to just under the top of the paper liner – a little higher than usual but this is so you can cut off the tops more easily.
- Bake 22-24 minutes, or until light golden around the edges.
- Cool for 5-10 minutes in the cupcake baking pan and then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling completely so you can begin decorating.
- To decorate flip the muffin onto its top along the line of the paper liner and cut horizontally using a bread/serrated knife.
- Then take the top of the cupcake. Press gently into the middle of the top with your heart shaped cutter to create the heart shape. Gradually lift the cutter (the mini heart should come with it).
- Take the cupcake top (and mini heart cut-out if you wish) and dust with icing sugar.
- Take the base of the cupcake and place a generous dollop of jam in the middle – I spread mine just a little, about 50mm from the edge.
- Put the cupcake top back onto the base to create your heart stamped cupcake.
- Do not overfill the cupcakes with batter as they may spill of the edges which you will later have to cut off and leads to a wonky shaped cupcake.
- To check if the cupcake is cooked all the way through insert a toothpick into the cake. If it comes out clean or with a few crumbs it’s done!
- If you are in a rush to decorate (like me at 10pm last night) you can pop the cakes into the fridge AFTER they have cooled in the pan for 5-10 mins. Leave them in for 5-10 minutes and they will be cool enough to jam and ice.
- Putting the top of the cupcake top down on the bench before stamping with the heart cutter helps avoid the cupcake splitting.
And there you have it. A simple recipe that looks just divine and a gorgeous gift for family and friends.