Whether you make one or both, these Champagne Cupcakes and Champagne Truffles make a uniquely romantic approach to homemade Valentine’s treats!
Knowing how little I pay any attention to the commercial phenomenon called Valentine’s Day, I actually surprised myself when I made the decision to make recipes for the occasion this year. It’s partly because I saw a good opportunity to put some of my recipe ideas to good use, and also because I needed an excuse to buy a bottle of champagne. (Okay, the second one is really the main reason. SHHH!)
It has been a hot minute since I last had some champagne. Ever since cutting colas out of my life, anything bubbly has had little appeal to me. It must be why after so many years, a glass of Martini Asti tasted really good lol. Seriously though, as a rule of thumb, you don’t want to cook or bake with any beverage you wouldn’t drink on its own. Well I would certainly willingly indulge in some Martini Asti.
Anyway, I’m actually quite excited about the recipes I’m writing about today. They’re not Valentine-exclusive desserts, but I just thought: A lot of people are probably going to buy some champagne for Valentine’s. Maybe they’ll have some leftovers and would want to make something different with it instead of straight-up drinking it all up? If that wasn’t your plan, maybe this post would change your mind. You can start by watching my recipe video:
These recipes are two very different things with two very different levels of involvement. The reason why I lumped them together is because they can also be served together, with a flute of actual champagne on the side. I am not knowledgeable about champagne, but most people on the interwebs agree that Martini Asti is the one to pick if you’re looking for something cheap but good quality. The taste is pretty good for the price. Of course, you are free to use whichever champagne is your favorite, as long as you are okay with using it for these champagne-infused recipes!
The Champagne Truffles are incredibly easy, but they produce these really complex tasting chocolate mounds that will keep you coming back for more. I used Auro Chocolate, as always, and the 64% plays really well with the champagne undertones. It’s clearest when it’s newly made, but the champagne flavor mellows little by little as the days pass.
That said, it’s impossible to stop at just one when you’re faced with these truffles. I always thought I had a decent amount of self control when it came to food, but each time I had one of these, it would always be followed by a second one. And then I try very hard not to have a third. My brothers, on the other hand, eat these with reckless abandon lol.
I think the only issue you might have with these Champagne Truffles is during the shaping portion. They will melt all over your hands if you roll them too long, so I always try to pack the truffles into my small scoop and just hope that I can get some nice rounded tops. If not, well, just make a thick layer of cocoa powder rain down to cover the blemishes. They do look rustic, but they taste luxurious as long as you use good chocolate. That’s the most important part.
You can also make square truffles out of these, as instructed in the original recipe from Simply Recipes. Instead of refrigerating inside the bowl where you melted the chocolate, you transfer the chocolate into a buttered baking pan and refrigerate overnight. Once set, you just need to slice into squares with a warm knife. Dusting it with cocoa before slicing helps the knife to not stick too.
Champagne Chocolate Truffles
Yield will depend on size you decide to portion your truffles
- 285 grams 10 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup 120 mL heavy cream
- Pinch of salt
- 2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons, 40 mL champagne or sparkling wine (I used Martini Asti)
- Cocoa powder, to dust with
- In a heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate, cream, and a pinch of salt. Set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir until chocolate is just melted and smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in the champagne.
- Cover the bowl with clingwrap and chill for about 1 hour to firm up. Use a small scoop to portion the dough into 1 inch balls, then place on mini paper liners. Dust generously with cocoa powder and refrigerate at least 8 hours to set fully. (If making square truffles, scrape the chocolate into a lightly buttered 6-inch square pan or a mini loaf pan. Chill at least 8 hours or overnight before slicing and dusting.)
My biggest concern before I made these cupcakes was whether the champagne taste would actually show up in the finished product. Well I was impressed by the cupcake base from Liv For Cake blog. Whilst I was doing my research to build these Champagne Cupcakes, I came across a handful of recipes that became candidates. I just had the feeling as I read through Liv For Cake’s recipe that it would give me a great cupcake. Well it really exceeded my expectations!
Everything from the texture to the flavor of the cupcakes were superb. I actually would’ve happily ate the cakes on their own and enjoyed the sweet, slightly fruity champagne taste that seemed to permeate every moist crumb! The key is TO NOT OVERMIX the batter as you incorporate the dry ingredients and the champagne, and you also CANNOT OVERBAKE them. Otherwise, you might as well bid a moist cupcake goodbye.
For the filling, I was planning on using raspberries but all I could find were strawberries. It worked all right and I thought it still complemented the entire package of the Champagne Cupcakes quite nicely. I reckon there would’ve been a bit more zing if I added a squeeze of lemon in. Now it’s very important with this filling to make sure you distribute the cornstarch slurry really well within the mixture. As soon as you pour it in, mix vigorously right away. If not, there might be bits that are more jelly-like than others.
The frosting is where it gets a little tricky for these Champagne Cupcakes. Personally, I cannot suggest that you pipe a big mound of the frosting on your cake because it is really sweet. I realize this is the characteristic of an American buttercream, but this one was sweeter than usual, so proceed with caution. Pipe only the amount you need to cover up that little hole you dug out to put the filling in.
I can’t imagine eating just the cake and the sweet frosting without the berries in the middle to balance things out. However I also cannot imagine eating these cupcakes without the frosting. The frosting is that thing that completes the experience of eating these Champagne Cupcakes. Believe me, when I tried them without the frosting, it felt like something was missing. You still need that little swirl of it. If you and your date have a sweet tooth however, feel free to double the frosting recipe because it won’t be enough to liberally frost all 18 cupcakes.
These cupcakes are best eaten at room temperature. The frosting of the cupcakes hardens in the fridge, and when you eat it cold, it develops a melt in the mouth quality that has its own charms. Personally though, since frosting isn’t meant to resemble butter when you eat it, I would let the cupcakes sit at room temp for 10 minutes before eating. That way, the filling and the frosting both loosen up, and the cake becomes tender and not too cold. Yum!
Also, you will have more berry filling than you need from the recipe below. What you can do is: Instead of making a hole in the center of your cupcake, just top your cupcakes with a layer of the berry jelly, and then pipe a little dollop of frosting on top. Heck you can do half filled and half topped! It’s entirely up to you.
Champagne Cupcakes with Strawberry Filling
For the Champagne Cupcakes
- 2 ¼ cups 270 grams all-purpose flour
- 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup 170 grams unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 ½ cups 300 grams granulated sugar
- 5 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup 240 mL champagne or sparkling wine (I used Martini Asti)
For the Berry Filling
- 2 cups about 400 grams frozen strawberries or raspberries
- ½ cup 100 grams granulated sugar
- 1 ½ Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon water
For the Sweet Champagne Frosting
- 2 ¼ cups 270 grams confectioner’s sugar
- 1 cup 227 grams unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 Tablespoons champagne, room temperature
Make the cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line 18 cups out of two cupcakes tins with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a separate large bowl, beat the butter until smooth. (You can use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beating at medium speed.) Add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg whites one at a time, mixing at a lower speed, incorporating each one before adding the next. Mix in vanilla.
- Alternate mixing the flour mixture and the champagne into the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. (The sequence should be: 1/3 flour mixture – ½ champagne – 1/3 flour mixture – ½ champagne – 1/3 flour mixture.) Fully incorporate each component before mixing in the next, but avoid over-mixing the batter.
- Divide batter among prepared liners, filling a little over ¾ of the way full. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Do not overbake! Cool in tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Make the filling
- In a medium pot, heat frozen berries over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, until the berries break down and start boiling lightly. The strawberries won’t break down as easily as the raspberries so you may need to smush it a bit.
- Stir in the sugar and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk together cornstarch and water to create a slurry. Pour into the boiling mixture and stir vigorously right away for about 1 minute to distribute the slurry as evenly as possible.
- Remove mixture from heat and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. It will continue to thicken as it cools until it almost looks like slightly runny jam. (If you’re not immediately making the cupcakes or if you’ve made this in advance, store in an airtight bottle in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.)
Make the frosting
- In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until smooth. Add vanilla and champagne and beat vigorously until the buttercream becomes luscious and lighter in color. It should also be a pipe-able consistency. (I don’t recommend adding more sugar since it already is sweet as it is, but feel free to add about ¼ cup more sugar if your frosting won’t hold its shape.)
- Take your cooled cupcakes and dig a deep hole in the center of the cupcakes using a corer, a small spoon, or even the round end of a piping tip. Scoop in some berry filling into the center, until it reaches the top. Then you can either trim the cut out portion of the cupcake to make a lid, or just pipe a thin layer of frosting right on top of the filling.
Cupcake base from Live For Cake blog; Filling from Sugar & Soul Co blog; Frosting from Gimme Some Oven blog
Have a happy Valentine’s weekend, ya’ll!