So what is the difference between a normal cake and a Valentine’s Day cake? In my opinion, nothing. Just the extra bit of red colouring and heart-shaped design thrown in for the effect. Yet just like the ‘holiday‘ itself, it’s all about that something supposedly extra-special which will grasp the consumer by his/her wallet and convince them that if they love their partner, then they will buy them a card, a gift, a bouquet of roses and whisk them away for a spontaneous break. As for the other 364 days of the year – ah, who cares?!
Will I be buying A a Valentine’s Day card? Yes, it’s already bought. Why did I buy it? I did not intend to, but going into a card shop recently to buy a wedding day card, it was impossible to escape the humungous Valentine’s Day section which covered three-quarters of the shop. It may be a card for me, but others are willing to buy that AND a soft-toy, a mug, balloons, special candles, clothing (“You and Me Forever Babes”) and what not. Once Boxing Day set here in England, all shops and super-markets immediately started displaying their Valentine’s Day and Easter ware. Perhaps the country is not as skint as the Big Heads want us to believe. So I succumbed to it all and bought the card. No, it’s not a foot-long card, just a simple one.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy receiving gifts of any kind as much as any female. I think it’s the compulsory romanticism of the day that just bugs me.
So instead of buying heart-shaped stencils and red colouring and baking a Valentine’s cake, or buying one of those horrible ready-made cakes found at the supermarket – fully covered in coloured tasteless icing sugar, I suggest making these really good muffins. I did them last Friday and not only did I manage to get the appearance right (I’m not very patient with appearance), but the taste was great. They’re not hard to make, do not take much time and all ingredients are easy-to-find ones. And I promise you, your other half will appreciate them, and your work 🙂 At least mine did!
- 25g plain chocolate, broken into pieces
- 125g softened butter
- 125g caster sugar
- 150g self-raising flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- icing sugar, for dusting
- 100g softened butter
- 225g icing sugar
- grated rind of half a lemon
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (I did 2 to ‘hide’ the buttery taste)
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line a 12-hole bun tin with 12 cases (I only managed to make 8 with these ingredients).
- Melt the chocolate (place it in a bowl, and set it over a saucepan of gently simmering water). Leave to cool slightly.
- Place the butter, sugar, flour, eggs and cocoa in a large bowl and beat together till smooth. Beat in the melted cholocate and spoon the mixture into the cases
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes (till springy to the touch). Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
- To make the icing, beat the butter till fluffy. Then gradually sift in the icing sugar and beat to combine.
- Beat in the lemon rind, then gradually beat in the lemon juice.
- Cut the top off each cake, and cut that top in half. Pipe the buttercream over the cut surface of each cake, and then push the two cut cake pieces into the icing to form wings.
- Finally, dust with sifted icing sugar.
You can add the grated rind of half an orange and 2 tablespoons of orange juice to the cake mixture, and replace the lemon juice and rind with orange juice and rind to make Chocolate and Orange Butterfly Cakes. You can add some chopped hazelnuts to the cake mixture or you can replace the melted plain chocolate with melted white chocolate.
And if you want to be all mushy and romantic, you can print or hand-make a banner “Fly away…to my heart” and decorate the stand with rose petals. Have them after a romantic meal a’ deux with some chilled white, ideally after the children have been put to bed…
Wait, did Cupid’s arrow just strike me?