Warm the heart of your Valentine with Cinnamon Heart Cupcakes. A fluffy vanilla cupcake swirled with spicy sweet cinnamon heart candy gel and topped with Italian buttercream kissed with the same sticky sweetness. Beautiful and perfect for sharing on Valentine’s Day.
While vanilla cupcakes with buttercream are lovely enough, here they get a hit of sweet cinnamon spiciness and colour from cinnamon heart candy. When thinking of what to make for Valentine’s Day I just couldn’t get the cute heart shaped candies out of my head. I knew I wanted to make them into a gel, but would they actually break down enough to do it? I really didn’t know for sure, so I bought two pounds of cinnamon hearts and set to work!
The gel was a hit with the first attempt and I was pleasantly surprised at how well they actually dissolved once ground up a little. My second go with the gel yielded waaaay too much for what was actually needed for the recipe. So round three was an adjustment of amounts. Good thing I bought the store out of cinnamon hearts. With the success of this particular candy I am excited to think about the possibilities with other little candy gems. The future looks sweet indeed!
Making Italian buttercream got you a little nervous? You don’t need to be a master baker to pull it off; you just need to know the process and what to look for. Mostly the later because it will look like a lumpy separated mess at some point and you will think you have failed miserably. When in reality that’s not the case, the butter just hasn’t been fully incorporated and further beating at high speed will generally correct it. It may also be that the buttercream is a little too cold and the butter bits have firmed up too much and it’s not smooth or it’s a little too warm and the butter actually starts to melt a little, creating a separated appearance. Luckily a slight cool down or warming up and a good beating is all that is needed to keep your buttercream on the right track to a silky smooth, feather light wonder.
Knowing what to look for and how to manage it is the key. Let me tell you, it’s worth every little bit of effort. Not only is it silky smooth but it’s not too sweet or sugary like American buttercream, you know the one with 4 cups of powdered sugar! You’ll notice the difference immediately and your heart will be won. Enjoy!
Recipe Concept: Compelled To Cook
Recipe Source: Vanilla Cupcakes adapted from Live Love and Sugar, Italian Buttercream adapted from Food 52
- 1 cup cinnamon heart candy
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 3 tsp cornstarch
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 large egg whites at room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 pound unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Using a mini processor or grinder, grind cinnamon hearts until powdery (some bits will remain). In a small sauce pan bring 1/3 cup water to a simmer. Whisk in cinnamon heart powder all at once, stirring constantly until starting to dissolve. Increase heat and continue to stir, melting the candy, approximately 1-2 minutes (some bits will not dissolve). Dissolve cornstarch in 2 tbsp cold water and add to liquid candy, stirring constantly. Allow to boil briefly and remove from heat. Strain while hot, removing any candy bits that refuse to dissolve. Allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes about 1 cup.
- Preheat oven to 350℉. Line 20-22 muffin tins with paper cups. In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment beat oil and sugar together until combined. Add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each. Whisk in milk and vanilla and mix until smooth. Add dry ingredients all at once and whisk on medium low until combined. Increase speed and whisk until smooth. Add hot water and whisk on low until smooth and just incorporated.
- Divide batter evenly between muffin cups, using 1/3 cup for each. Drizzle approximately 1 tsp of cinnamon heart gel over each cupcake ( I used a plastic squeezable bottle with an approximate 1/8 inch hole). Using a thin device such as a chop stick swirl cinnamon heart gel within the batter, creating swirls. Bake for 16-18 minutes or when a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 10-15 minutes before moving each cupcake to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before icing.
- In a medium sauce pan combine sugar and water. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat over medium high heat, stirring often until sugar is dissolved. Brush sides of pan with cold water to remove any sugar crystals that have formed on the side. Stop stirring and allow mixture to cook to 230℉.
- When syrup reaches 230℉ start beating the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with a whisk attachment. Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. When syrup reaches 240℉ remove from heat and add to egg whites in a slow steady stream with mixer on medium high speed. Egg white mixture will be smooth and glossy when all the syrup is added.
- Continue to whisk until egg white mixture is no longer warm to the touch. I like to speed up the process by placing large zip lock bags with ice water around the base of the bowl. Once mixture is cool enough start adding butter by 1" chunks with mixer on high, incorporating butter as you drop it in. Once all the butter has been added, continue to whisk until smooth and light. Add vanilla and 2-3 tbsp of cinnamon heart gel and whisk to combine.
- Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use. If refrigerating, allow to come to room temperature and re-whisk until smooth before continuing.
You will likely notice about the time all the butter is added that the buttercream looks separated. Don't panic, continue to whisk at high speed and the buttercream should come together. If it does not, it is likely too warm. Cool bowl in an ice bath briefly, stirring occasionally for a few minutes. Return to mixer and whisk at high speed.