Cupid’s Cupcakes are the ultimate declaration of love: strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla all in one! Fill with Nutella and garnish with a chocolate heart for an over-the-top festive Valentine’s Day treat.
Remember how last week was all about pizza dough?
Well, this week’s all about chocolate.
These Valentine’s Day cupcakes are filled with Nutella and topped with strawberry Nutella swirled buttercream. And yes, they’re every bit as lush as they look!!
If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
Today’s cupcake recipe begins with a very familiar cupcake batter. My vanilla cupcakes are tried and true, combining an extra fluffy crumb and undeniably buttery vanilla flavor. It’s difficult to replicate that bakery style cupcake perfection, but this recipe nails it EVERY TIME. I depend on this base recipe because the ingredients guarantee success;
- Egg Whites (no yolks): Lift up the crumb instead of weighing it down.
- Sour Cream: Leaves all the moisture.
- Cake Flour: Promises an extra soft texture.
Here’s a complete run-down of the recipe if you’re interested.
There’s no point straying from this recipe because the results are fantastic and consistent. Plus, it’s really easy to adapt the cupcake into different flavors like peanut butter and jelly cupcakes, pistachio cupcakes, and coconut cupcakes.
My #1 tip: Fill the cupcake liners only about 2/3 full. These cupcakes rise up tall and excess batter will overflow.
Strawberry Nutella Cupcakes = Cupid’s Cupcakes
I call these Cupid’s Cupcakes because they’re the most festive Valentine’s Day cupcakes I’ve ever made! We’re taking my vanilla cupcake recipe, stuffing it with Nutella, and topping with beautifully swirled buttercream. (Giving us neapolitan vibes!) Strawberry and Nutella is an underrated flavor combination. It’s definitely cupid approved.
My trick for filling cupcakes: Here’s a video tutorial. (Scroll halfway down the post.) I also show you how to swirl two frostings together in that video. Don’t overcomplicate things because it’s actually very easy!
Two Frostings from 1 Basic Recipe
Besides the flavor, what you’ll love most is that the two frostings start with 1 basic buttercream. Convenient! Even though there’s a lot going on, this recipe is just like any homemade cupcake & homemade frosting recipe– the buttercream is simply split into two flavors.
- Add Nutella to half of the buttercream and strawberry “dust” to the other half.
What’s strawberry dust? A dessert miracle, that’s what! Strawberry dust is the secret to real strawberry frosting. Grind up freeze-dried strawberries and beat the powder right into the buttercream. Freeze-dried strawberries are REAL strawberries, so you get real flavor without comprising the buttercream’s texture. I discovered this trick several years ago and it graces my strawberry cake and strawberry cupcakes. And the frosting is naturally pink!
Valentine’s Day cupcakes are a tradition! Cupcakes are an extra special treat and it’s fun to dress them up for different holidays, especially February 14th. Here are a few Valentine’s Day cupcake recipes from previous years:
- 1 and 3/4 cups (200g) cake flour* (spoon & leveled)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature*
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (120g) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup (100g) Nutella
Nutella & Strawberry Swirl Buttercream
- 1 cup (10-12g) freeze-dried strawberries*
- 1 and 1/2 cups (345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 6 cups (720g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream or milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup (100g) Nutella
- optional for garnish: chocolate heart candies or strawberries
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. (I used these pink cupcake liners.) Line a second pan with 2-3 liners – this recipe makes 14-15 cupcakes. Set aside.
- Make the cupcakes: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamed, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the egg whites on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour and mix in the milk *just* until combined. Do not overmix.
- Pour/spoon the batter into the liners. Fill only 2/3 full to avoid baking over the sides. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For around 35 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before filling and frosting.
- Fill the cupcakes: Watch my cupcake filling video (found in this post) for a visual of this step. Using a sharp knife, cut a circle/hole into the center of the cooled cupcakes to create a little pocket about 1 inch deep. The piece you removed will be the shape of a cone. Spoon Nutella inside each carved out cupcake. Use as much Nutella that will fit. Slice off the pointy end of the “cone” piece you removed so that it can fit on top of the filling. Place on top of the filling.
- Make the buttercream: Using a blender or food processor, process the freeze-dried strawberries into a powdery crumb. You should have around 1/3 – 1/2 cup. Set aside. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Divide buttercream in half. Beat 1/3 cup of Nutella into half and the strawberry dust into the other half. If either frosting seems too thin for piping, add an extra Tablespoon of confectioners’ sugar. Add an extra Tablespoon of cream if frosting seems too thick.
- Swirled frosting: Fill a piping bag with a piping tip (I used Wilton 1M piping tip for the pictured cupcakes). Add a spoonful of the Nutella frosting, then a spoonful of the strawberry frosting, then continue alternating spoonfuls of frosting until the piping bag is filled. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes. I piped a basic tall swirl. See #2 in this post about piping a tall swirl.(I have a video tutorial in that blog post if you need a visual.) Decorate with garnishes, if desired.
- Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Make ahead tip: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Cake flour: If you cannot get your hands on cake flour, you can make a DIY version from all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Remove 2 Tablespoons. Mix in 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. This equals 1 cup of cake flour. I suggest doing this twice, mixing it all up in 1 bowl then removing 1/4 cup since you need 1 and 3/4 cups in this recipe.
- What to do with leftover egg yolks? I have some recipe ideas for you!
- Where to buy freeze-dried strawberries? I always find them in my regular grocery store in the dried fruit aisle. Wegmans, Giant, Trader Joe’s and Target carries them. Keep your eyes peeled– they’re more commonly found that you think! Do not use the chewy/gummy dried strawberries. You need FREEZE-dried strawberries which grind into a powder.
- Why is everything at room temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information.
- Nut allergy / Alternative to Nutella: Instead of Nutella filling, fill the cupcakes with chocolate ganache. Instead of the Nutella frosting, swirl the strawberry frosting with my chocolate buttercream.
- Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin.
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