For Valentine’s Day dessert, how could you go wrong with chocolate, Champagne, strawberries and cream? No matter if you’re someone’s Valentine, someone’s secret admirer or if 14th February turns out just to be an average, uneventful day, we have the perfect ‘means of seduction’/ ‘self-healing salve’ [delete as appropriate] to fit the bill.
These moist little white chocolate Champagne sponges are filled with decadent whipped vanilla cream, together with a luscious strawberry and Champagne syrup, voluptuously smothered with a rich white chocolate and Champagne butter icing.
Heaven in a mouthful, promise!
White Chocolate Champagne Cupcakes with White Chocolate Champagne Butter Icing and Strawberry and Cream Filling
Makes 12 cupcakes
For the white chocolate champagne cupcakes:
125g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
A pinch of fine salt
60g unsalted butter
50g Flora or margarine
70g soft brown sugar
60g caster sugar
50g white chocolate (I like Green & Blacks)
½ tsp chocolate extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large organic free-range eggs, separated
30ml Champagne or Italian Prosecco (if preferred)
For the white chocolate champagne butter icing:
75g white chocolate
125g unsalted butter
225g icing sugar
25ml Champagne or Italian Prosecco (if preferred)
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp chocolate extract
For the strawberry filling:
3 tbsp strawberry jam (I like St. Dalfour)
2 tsp Champagne or Italian Prosecco (if preferred)
For the cream filling:
50ml double cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
To make the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 180° and line a 12-cake cupcake or muffin tray with 12 cupcake cases (I prefer the silicone cupcake cases).
Break up the white chocolate, place in a microwave-proof bowl and microwave for three or four 30-second intervals, stirring in between to help the chocolate to melt. Do not allow the chocolate to overheat or it will seize and spoil. Once melted, allow to cool for a minute or two.
Sift the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl, stir to combine and set aside.
Meanwhile, cream together the butter, Flora, sugars, chocolate extract, vanilla extract and Champagne together till light and fluffy.
Add the slightly cooled chocolate to the wet ingredients. Separate the eggs into two separate bowls. Set the whites aside.
Whisk the egg yolks with a fork and add in three parts to the creamed butter and sugar, stirring to combine before adding the remainder of the yolk.
Add the flour in three parts to the wet ingredients.
Using a hand held electric mixer beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Add a quarter of the egg whites to the cake mixture to slacken the batter and stir. Finally gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter till smooth and velvety.
Use an ice-cream scoop to divide the cake mixture between the twelve cupcake cases, smooth with a spoon.
Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven or till golden and springy to the touch. Oven temperatures do vary so check the cupcakes after twelve or thirteen minutes and if required pop the cupcakes back in for a further couple of minutes.
The cupcakes are ready when an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the baking tray along with the cases and allow the cakes to cool completely.
To prepare the fillings:
Whip the cream to firm peaks, add the vanilla extract and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix the jam with champagne and set aside.
When the cupcakes are completely cool, cut a circular cone shape out of the centre of the top of each cupcake and place it directly next to the cupcake it comes from.
Using a ¼ teaspoon, scoop little mounds of the whipped cream into each cavity. Using a clean spoon drizzle the cream with a little of the strawberry and Champagne syrup.
Slice half of the golden sponge tips away from each of the cupcake lids and push the tops back onto the cupcakes.
To make the butter icing:
Melt the white chocolate in the microwave for four 30-second intervals. Once melted, allow to cool for a few minutes.
Sift the icing sugar and beat into the butter till light and fluffy. If you are using an electric mixer such as a KitchenAid, cover the top of the machine with a clean tea towel before switching it on to mix or you will be enveloped in a saccharine cloud of icing sugar – you have been warned!
Add the vanilla extract, chocolate extract and Champagne to the butter and icing sugar and stir to a thick and creamy consistency.
Do not panic if the mixture looks as if it is splitting. Simply sift a further tablespoon or so of icing sugar into the mixture, if required.
Finally, once the melted chocolate has cooled slightly, add to the cotton-hued butter icing and stir together confidently. The butter icing should become a velvety and voluptuously smooth frosting.
Once the cupcakes have cooled, use a palette knife to ice the top of the sponges with the butter icing. Alternatively use a piping bag and pipe the butter icing onto the cupcakes.