Chocolate Cupcakes with Flaming Strawberries...
Call me easily amused, but these little torch-topped cupcakes delight me. Besides being a cute novelty item for a party, I think they would add a little drama to the end of a romantic meal. I've been looking for something different to serve for Valentine's dessert, and this is definitely different. The strawberries are hollowed out and filled with bit of liquor, then ignited with a match.
For the cake portion, I chose a one bowl chocolate cup cake recipe because 1. it's quick 2. it is easy, and 3. it fits my prerequisite for a light ending on date night.
I should say, a light ending provided you don't eat too many. Which is really, really easy to do.
The cakes are just sweet enough, and have a light, fluffy crumb - the perfect vehicle for rich chocolate buttercream.
Notes for flaming strawberries:
Any alcohol below 80 proof will not ignite well. I used 80 proof which makes a small blue flame. Note: some have had trouble getting 80 proof to ignite - lots of people are recommending Bacardi 151 as a fail-safe.
You can add a little sugar to the inside of the strawberry to sweeten things up. However, the flame seems to last longer without the addition of sugar.
Make sure to use a liquor that you like. Vodka is a good choice if you want very little flavor.
Alcohol evaporates, so light the strawberry soon after you spoon the liquor in.
Room temperature alcohol ignites better than refrigerated.
Do I have to say it? Probably not, but my conscience will not let me go without. Do not attempt to eat a flaming strawberry. It has a relatively short burn time, lasting about 30 seconds to 1 minute. So, enjoy but be careful. Use your noodle.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Flaming Strawberries
Yield: About 20 cupcakes
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line muffin tin with cupcake papers and set aside.
Sift together cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, water, heavy cream, oil and vanilla. Mix with a hand held mixer until smooth.
Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each half full. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool before frosting.
2 sticks softened butter
4 cups confectioners' sugar
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, cream together sugar, cocoa and butter; beginning on low speed then increase to high. Beat until fluffy and lightened in color. Transfer mixture to a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip. Frost cupcakes.
Vodka, rum, or your choice of liquor 80 proof or higher (use Bacardi 151 for fail-proof results).
Hollow the strawberries carefully. If you pierce the side of the strawberry accidentally, start with a new one. Since you'll be setting the liquor aflame, it is important that the strawberry is leak-proof.
Set one strawberry atop each frosted cupcake. Fill strawberries with liquor just before lighting (see tips). If you need to light them all at once, (say, for a party) use a turkey baster to quickly fill all the strawberries and a grill lighter in lieu of matches.