8 Valentine’s Day Cupcakes You’ll Fall in Love With
Hector Manuel Sanchez
1 of 8Hector Manuel Sanchez
Banana Gingerbread Cupcakes
Gingerbread or banana bread? Can’t decide which you like better? This spicy, sweet, super-moist mash-up is just for you. Finish the cakes off with a glossy confectioners’ sugar glaze and a heart-shaped cookie topper for maximum cuteness. One pro tip: Measure the oil before the molasses and the sticky sweetener will pour easily out of the measuring cup.
Adding a splash of coffee to the batter deepens these dreamy cupcakes’ intense chocolate flavor, while a hidden center of store-bought cherry preserves take them to the next level. Finally, a crown of airy, gently sweetened whipped cream topped with wisps of chocolate and juicy cherries is a simple but eye-catching way to finish them off.
Frozen wild blueberries are smaller and sweeter than conventional blueberries, with less moisture and bigger flavor that makes them ideal for baking. But don’t worry: If you can’t find wild berries, regular ones will still turn out fine. A trick to remember: Add them to the batter while they’re still frozen so they stay intact during mixing.
Heady cardamom pairs wonderfully with citrus and gives these tender cupcakes an exotic edge. Ground cardamom works perfectly well in this recipe, but if you want a real punch of flavor, it’s worth looking for whole, unsplit green pods in the spice section of a well-stocked supermarket. Just gently crush the pods to extract the seeds and grind them in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.
Browned butter adds a luxe caramel note to this rich cream cheese frosting—but be warned: once you taste it, you may never go back to the plain version. The nutty flavor works perfectly with the tender crumb and gentle sweetness of the spiced carrot cake and a flurry of toasted coconut is a simple but festive garnish.
These homey cupcakes, flecked with nuts and spices and topped with creamy maple buttercream, are as perfect for dessert with your sweetie as for a lazy morning over coffee. Just be sure to use a good quality maple syrup with deep flavor. (Grade B works well.) It makes all the difference.
Making a classic buttercream frosting takes a bit of effort, but the results are silky and buttery beyond compare. The pink is pretty, but you could also try swapping out the raspberry jam for 2 ounces of melted bittersweet chocolate for an even more decadent combination.
These citrus-spiked butter cakes are topped with a lofty puff of fresh meringue. The meringue frosting is lovely as it is, but can also be toasted for even more flavor. Simply set the cupcakes on a baking sheet in a 500°F oven, and bake until the meringue begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Just remember to keep a close eye on them!