Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes

I make these every year for New Years Eve, but they would be fantastic for Valentine’s Day! Vanilla bean cupcakes with rosé champagne soaked strawberries, frosted with a champagne buttercream and topped with a chocolate covered strawberry these are every bit as decadent as they are romantic! 

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line one and a half muffin tins with liners. Dice up 1/2 cup of fresh strawberries and soak in 1/2 cup good rosé champagne at room temp (my favorite is Cave de Lugny Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé), set aside. Sift together the 2 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt in a bowl. Combine 2 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract, the seeds from 1 vanilla bean and 1 1/4 cups whole milk at room temperature. in a large liquid measuring cup. Place 8 tbsp softened unsalted butter and 1 3/4 cup sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add 2 large eggs at room temperature one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition. Reduce the speed to low. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then gradually add one-third of the milk mixture, beating until well incorporated. Add another one-third of the flour mixture, followed by one-third of the milk mixture. Add the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk mixture, and beat just until combined. Gently fold in the diced Champagne-soaked strawberries.

Scoop batter into baking cups and bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. It’s really important that all the liquids and the butter be at room temperature. If any of them are cold, the frosting will separate once the champagne is added and it won’t turn out. Combine 16 tbsp softened unsalted butter and 4 cups confectioner’s sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until a coarse meal is formed. Add1 tsp whole milk, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract and 1/2 cup of the same champagne used for the cakes and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Place the frosting in a piping bag with a large star tip and frost all the cupcakes. Melt the Baker’s chocolate in a double boiler and dip the strawberries in the chocolate. Let chocolate dry on a parchment lined baking sheet and then garnish each cupcake with a chocolate covered strawberry.