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Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

     During this Valentine’s Day season, I was surrounded by alot of things that I’m sure most of you also witnessed: roses of every of pink and red, countless boxes of chocolates, and the shape of hearts covering the shelves. During this holiday, I know it’s commercialized as a couples holiday; however, it’s not. It’s an opportunity to remind those special to you how important of an impact they make in your lives. Whether it’s a childhood friend, a parent who never missed a soccer game or dance recital, or even a sweet neighbor who is there to lend a hand, show them your appreciation with something sweet. 

     I thought alot about what flavor combinations go perfectly together, and I came across a chocolate raspberry cupcake recipe from a fellow blogger, Ginny from the In Bloom Bakery. I’m sure you’ve heard about chocolate covered strawberries, but chocolate goes beautifully with all berries. So, I printed out her recipe, and I hit up my local grocery store. 

     Unfortunately, I was scouring the shelves, I couldn’t find freeze dried raspberries; all they had were freeze dried strawberries. So I figured, knowing the combination is a classic, I decided to tweak the recipe using strawberries in place of the raspberries. After picking up my grocery bags, I headed for my kitchen to get started. 

     Here’s the point where I tell you the golden rule of baking: always read your recipe “before” you start baking. I knew I had to take out the unsalted butter and the eggs before I got started so they would be at room temperature. What I didn’t read as carefully was that the milk and sour cream also needed to be at room temperature. Talk about a palm to my forehead. 

     So, after waiting once again for my remaining two ingredients to come to room temperature, I proceeded following the recipe word for word. After getting the cupcakes into the oven, I considered holding off on putting together the chocolate strawberry ganache and the strawberry buttercream until I had more time as it was getting late. Then I thought, well I could just make them up, store them both in the fridge, and assemble the cupcakes the next day after work. Before I could hesitate, I moved forward and I created both of these components before the cupcakes had baked and cooled.

     I started assembling the cupcakes one by one: creating a small indent into the center of the cupcake, pouring about a tablespoon of strawberry chocolate ganache in the hole, and swirling a bit of buttercream on top. The final step was to adorn the top with some type of decoration. While the recipe suggested using fresh berries, I decided to use some chocolate sprinkles. It seemed to just add a special little touch; plus sprinkles make everything better. 

     After placing all but one into my refrigerator, I settled down in on my comfy couch, and I dug into the cupcake. The first forkful I took, I made sure to get all three: the decadent cake, the light frosting, and the rich ganache center. As I tasted the fruits of my labor, the explosion of flavors similar to that moment in Ratatouille where Remi sees fireworks for the first time when he combined the flavors of cheese and strawberries. Okay, so while I may not have seen fireworks, the melding of the flavors were both decadent and comforting. 

     Knowing my self-control when it comes to sweets, I always share by either taking them to my coworkers, sending them to work with my boyfriend, or dropping them off to a family member; my grandfather is a regular quality checker of my baked goods. This time, I sent them with my boyfriend to share with the mechanics at his work. Needless to say, I received a clean and totally empty cupcake carrier. So I’m guessing they enjoyed them as well. 

     It’s nice to share your cooking/baking creations with friends and family. We create memories around food from those daily dinners with our families to the time you bring a chocolate cake to a friend going through a breakup. Food provides comfort, and it’s a sign to others that you’re thinking of them. 

     I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day; remember that it’s not a holiday for lovers, it’s a holiday about love. So be sure if you haven’t to let someone important in your life know how much they mean to you. 

Until next time!