By Taylor Rexrode
With Valentine’s Day on Friday, many students may be looking for that last-minute gift for someone special.
They want something heartfelt yet inexpensive, something that acknowledges the amorous holiday, as commercialized as it is, but doesn’t seem too desperate or cheesy.
Those who don’t have a Valentine may want to enjoy something that doesn’t require having a significant other, perhaps something sweet that can be shared among friends or alone while bingeing on a Netflix marathon.
Why not cupcakes?
With the rise of Pinterest, baking truly became an art, with many variations on traditional desserts. Among those decorated desserts is the Surprise Raspberry Heart Cupcakes from McCormick, a white cupcake with a raspberry heart center.
While the center of my cupcakes looked more like a pink blob than a perfectly crafted heart, I was surprised to find out that my cupcakes were tasty despite my cutting corners on the recipe.
Surprise Raspberry Heart Cupcakes
Originally pinned from
What you need
1 package (2-layer size) white cake mix
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons McCormick Raspberry Extract, divided
24 drops McCormick Red Food Color
2 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
5 tablespoons heavy cream
1-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter
Yields 12 cupcakes
*For my version of the recipe, replace confectioners’ sugar and heavy cream with your favorite prepackaged frosting.
What to do
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake mix as directed on package. Remove 1.5 cups of the batter to medium bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of raspberry extract and red food color. Pour into greased 8-inch square baking pan. Reserve remaining batter.
Bake 12 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Cut out 12 heart shapes with 1-inch heart-shaped cook cutter. Set aside.
Stir vanilla into reserved batter. Pour ½ of the batter evenly into 12 paper muffin cups. Press one cake heart vertically into center of each muffin cup. Bake 15-18 minutes or until top of cupcake is set. Cool cupcakes on wire rack.
Meanwhile, beat butter and remaining 2 teaspoons raspberry extract in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar alternately with cream, beating well after each addition and scraping sides and bottom of bowl frequently. Frost cooled cupcakes with frosting.
What went wrong
Since I was on a tight budget, I did not pick up supplies to create the frosting (I used Duncan Hines fluffy white whipped frosting) nor did I track down a heart-shaped cookie cutter. This latter issue may have been what made my cupcakes less than romantic. Once my small raspberry cake had cooled, I cut out jagged hearts with a butter knife, many of which fell apart in my hands or were lopsided.
Another issue I had with the recipe was the fact that it didn’t say whether or not to put more cake batter on top of the inserted cake hearts. For my own experiment, I put cake batter on half of the cupcakes (the prettier ones of the bunch) and left the other half of the cupcakes topless, exposing the tops of pink hearts. Those uncovered cupcakes came back crispy like little pink croutons sticking out of a muffin. The other looked like as cupcakes should – soft and smooth.
I think my cheapening of the recipe probably kept my cupcakes from looking like those in the picture from McCormicks. With practice and a heart-shaped cookie cutter, I think the recipe is plausible. Whether or not it is worth it to bake hearts into a cupcake is another question entirely. But if you’re looking for something inexpensive and Valentine-themed, these cupcakes are a great way to celebrate.