Wednesday, February 13, 2008

White Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes with Strawberry Hearts

These vanilla-rich cakes are topped with a thick layer of creamy vanilla and white chocolate cheesecake and then decorated with strawberry hearts, just in time for Valentine's Day!

This was the first time that I made this recipe, having seen it a month or so ago in Cupcake Heaven by Susannah Blake. It was fairly easy to make, but I did make some adaptations as I went along, and I'd like to share the following advice:

1. The recipe, as called for in the book, uses self-rising flour. I don't use self-rising flour, and I'm willing to bet that a lot of other people don't either, so here is a handy substitution guide: To make "self-rising" flour, simply add 1 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp of salt per cup of flour used. I simply added the baking powder and salt to my recipe, and to make things easier, I'm posting the recipe I adapted below instead of the original.

2. The amount of batter you'll be making is small for a good reason. You only want to fill your muffin liners with about 2 tbsps. of batter so they have room to rise and take on a pile of cheesecake topping, without spilling over the top of the liner. Using this method, I easily got 12 cupcakes out of the recipe.

3. Watch the chocolate when you're melting it. White chocolate tends to burn very quickly, so keep an eye on it or you'll have one heck of a mess. Not like I learned this the hard way, or anything.

4. The cheesecake component needs time to chill and set so don't be impatient! Get those cupcakes covered and in the fridge, pronto! They need about 2 hours to set nicely, but they can go in overnight too. It's nice that this recipe can be made ahead of time.

5. To make the strawberry hearts, wash enough strawberries to add one to each cupcake. Using a paring knife, carefully slice each strawberry from the stem down, only cutting 3/4 of the way through so that the bottom of the strawberry is held together. Then carefully twist the sliced parts away from each other, making a heart shape. Cut off the stem and leaves or leave them on, your choice. Apply strawberry heart to the top of your cupcake and press gently.

6. February in Toronto isn't exactly strawberry season, so feel free to substitute raspberries, blueberries, or a medley of berries or even other fruits if you want. I think that using canned pie filling would be an OK substitute in a pinch, too.

Now for the photos...

Here are all the ingredients, ready to go:

The baked cupcakes, cooling:

The cupcakes, along with M&M Brownies, all ready to go to the Valentine's Party at work on Thursday (don't you wish you were invited?):

A closer look at the deliciousness:

And the extreme close-up... check out the cutesy cupcake liner and that glistening berry:

White Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes with Strawberry Hearts

Cupcake Batter:
4 tbsps. butter, at room temperature
5 tbsps. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsps. milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, a little at a time.
3. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, and then fold into the butter, sugar and egg mixture.
4. Stir in the vanilla and milk.
5. Transfer the mixture into the muffin cups, distributing about 2 tbsps. per cup.
6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until risen and golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
7. Let cupcakes cool. If cupcakes have risen above paper liner, carefully slice off the top using a serrated knife to create a flat surface.

Cheesecake Mixture/Topping:
1/4 cup white chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup cream cheese
6 tbsps. sour cream
1 1/2 tsps. vanilla
6 tbsps. icing sugar (a.k.a. confectioner's sugar)
Fresh strawberries

1. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, or in a microwave, then set aside to cool slightly.
2. Beat the cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla and icing sugar together in a separate bowl.
3. Beat in the melted chocolate.
4. Smooth the cheesecake mixture over the cupcakes, up to the rim of the paper liners.
5. Add sliced strawberry heart or whole strawberry.
6. Chill for at least 2 hours, and serve.

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