Saturday, January 5, 2008

Here's a Heart as Sweet as His...

What's your favourite flavour? As a kid, we always had the three basic choices to fall back on, whether it was ice cream, cake, or frostings: chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla? Well, I know that hubby Andrew loves all three, though he freely admits that when presented with a box of Neopolitan, he's all about the strawberry in the beginning of the binge. Well, I was musing today as I travelled to and from George Brown College in Toronto today (in the process of making a "dry run" with the TTC and Go Trains before class starts on Saturday, which I've never taken alone before), and I came up with an idea, just a tiny, random idea, for a sweet nibbly gift for my love to enjoy on our three-year anniversary on the 7th. I do promise that I will stop talking about how excited I am about this occasion after Monday, really!

Anyways, we had a small glut of (out of season, sadly) strawberries left over from my mom's New Year's Party that were languishing in the fridge, along with about 1/3 of a container of sour cream from my mom's amazing stroganoff, so I took that little notion I had and ran with it in a small-batch run. I mean, what's the worst that could happen in the kitchen? Wait... don't answer that!

I have to say that I am extremely pleased with the turnout of these cupcakes. I don't even know if you can call them cupcakes, since they have no frosting and aren't all that cute, but they aren't wholesome enough for the "muffin" label. Whatever you call them, these are a taste sensation: creamy, slightly tangy vanilla and chocolate batters sandwich a sweet, succulent strawberry heart. All I can say is wow! I used a store-bought, plain baking mix as the base (I know, the nerve of me!), but if you have a favourite vanilla cupcake batter or plain muffin blend, mix the dry ingredients and divide it into two seperate bowls before proceeding with the recipe. If you don't have a favourite mix of your own, and don't want to start out of a box (I don't usually, but I was lazy today!), here's the recipe I usually use for my muffin batter, scaled for this recipe.

Basic Muffin Dry Mix
Serves 6
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl until thoroughly blended.
  2. Store in a cool, dry place.
For plain (vanilla) muffins, add to the above:
2-3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  1. Stir all ingredients together until just blended and still slightly lumpy.
  2. Bake in greased tins 20-25 minutes at 400F, unmould immediately and cool on wire racks.

Well that's all well and good, but what about my recipe? Well, now that you know how to do the base (or are waiting patiently with your recipe), I will explain the rest.

Sweetheart Neopolitan Cupcakes
Makes 6
  1. First, pre-heat your ovens to 400F, and grease 6 muffin cups.
  2. Take either 1 batch of the recipe above or 1 1/3 cups of your dry mix, and divide it roughly into two bowls.
Now you will need:

2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
3 strawberries, cut in half lengthwise

  1. Stir the cocoa powder into one of the two bowls.
  2. Melt together the chocolate chips and the butter, then stir in 2 tablespoons of the sour cream.
  3. Add the chocolate mixture to the cocoa muffin mix and add 2 tablespoons water. Stir gently to combine without overmixing, and set aside.
  4. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sour cream, the vanilla and the rest of the water to the plain mix and bring together gently.
  5. If either mixture is too dry, add 1-2 teaspoons of water.
Now, for the layering!

  1. Put a large dollop of chocolate batter into the bottom of the greased tins, dividing it evenly between each cup.
  2. Place 1 strawberry half, cut-side down, on top of the chocolate batter.
  3. Top with the vanilla batter, again dividing it evenly and making sure the chocolate batter and strawberries are covered completely.
  4. Pop 'em into the oven for 20 minutes, remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack. And... voila!
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 181.7
Total Fat: 5.4 g
Cholesterol: 6.9 mg
Sodium: 6.0 mg
Total Carbs: 32.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.9 g
Protein: 3.0 g