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Holy mouthful. I guess I could be creative and come up with an awesome (and shorter) name for them…Spanish Vampire Cupcakes? Bitter Sweet Surprise? See, I’m no good at this!

What I AM good at, is eating these delectable cupcakes. I made these back in late January/Early February, I don’t remember. They were supposed to be a Valentine’s Day post, so HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Coming off a Christmas high, cranberries were still on my mind back in late-winter. I love cranberries – particularly in chutney form! One day I walked into my local Wegman’s and came face to face with blood oranges! Mmmm. As soon as I saw them I knew I needed them, and, as usual, I also NEEDED cupcakes. In my belly. So, these babies were born.

To start with I zested two Blood Oranges and kept the zest of each separate. The zest of one orange went into a saucepan with a bag of cranberries, a cup of sugar, and a couple of cups of water. I simmered these just until the cranberries began to pop open. Now, in retrospect, I think I should have just reconstituted dried sugared cranberries. To do that I would have simmered the rind in sugar-water for a little bit and then turned off the heat and dumped in the cranberries. That way they might have been more whole instead of a mushy-ish mess. But, I digress. After the cranberries popped open I strained them in a colander.

The next step is to prepare your favorite chocolate cake. It can even be from a box. I did mine from scratch and incorporated some unsweetened Ghirardelli chocolate pieces. Delicious! Once I had done all the preparing of the chocolate cake batter, I gently folded in the cranberries. I then poured the batter into cupcake molds/pans and baked per the directions on the box.

Next, the icing! I chose to do a blood orange swiss butter cream! (ok, so, I made these months ago. Writing this post right now when I have no cupcakes left, is torture.) First of all, juice both your blood oranges and set the juice aside. I found this swiss butter cream recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s website. After preparing the icing as she described on there, I slowly mixed in the juice. I did this little by little to gauge the color change and the consistency. I’m not super familiar with adding juice to butter cream icing…or butter cream icing in general. I added the juice of about one orange to the 9-inch cake batch of icing (and drank the rest). Additionally, I added the rest of the grated zest. (PS, I know she warns you that it might take a while for the butter cream to come together. Trust her! Every time I make it I mix so much that I think surely I did something wrong, and then, magically, it’s icing! Keep at it!)

After your cupcakes have fully cooled, it’s time for the fun part. The part that is ONE step away from being able to shove a cupcake or two into your mouth. ICING TIME! I tried a couple different icing techniques with these. I tried my oldy but goodie smearing on the icing with a spatula:

Pretty, no?

I also got out my cookie/icing gun. I’d never used this for icing. I was pretty scared. I was pretty sure I’d fail and it’d look terrible. This is what happened. It was a total, glorious, fluke.

WHAT? I DID THAT? Ok, guys, get a cookie/icing gun. They make it look like you know how to decorate cupcakes.

Another technique I tried was filling cupcakes. I found this handy little cupcake corer on clearance at Target the week before I made these cupcakes and snatched it right up. Also, I may have gone overboard on the filling.

I hope you like icing.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I cut out a stencil in the shape of a heart, on regular paper. Using some cake decorating powder that I found at Michael’s, I filled in the stencil! This would probably have been a little nicer if I’d had a tiny little sifter. But, it worked out!

Some of my best friends are spread out over the country/world. I miss them and wanted to share some cupcake love so I devised a way to package and send them off! I baked 8 cupcakes in teeny mason jars! I then filled four of them, iced all of them and gave two friends two of each. They cost a bit to ship, but I don’t regret sharing!

Sorry this is a little late for V-Day 2012, but it’s never too late to show some love! Or to just make yummy cupcakes.

Did you make a fancy dessert for Valentine’s Day this year?

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