Friday, February 10, 2012

American Beauty Cupcakes - Chocolate & Roses for Valentine's Day

There is something about a chocolate cupcake, particularly topped with fluffy pink frosting, that just makes me all happy, bubbly, and excited. Years ago, whenever I was having a bad day at work or just wanted a treat, I would drive over to Russos during my lunch break and pick up a half-dozen (don't judge - they came in packages of six!) of their homemade chocolate cupcakes with pink frosting. I would share some with my favorite co-worker, Claudia, and bring some home. But usually I ate two, er... one, at my desk and felt immediately that all was right with the world once again. (Note to self - next birthday make yourself a chocolate layer cake with pink frosting).

You know what else makes me feel happy, bubbly, and excited? When Thom brings me flowers. By the time I met Thom I had been disappointed in love so many times that I didn't feel the need to celebrate Valentine's Day. Nevertheless he sent roses and gerberas to my office to let me know the day mattered, and I mattered, to him.  No, our relationship isn't perfect. But yes, we are stupid for each other. Whenever he brings me flowers for no particular reason he makes me feel like that scene in Julie & Julia when Paul Child (Stanley Tucci) says, "you are the butter to my bread and the breath to my life." Swoon!
"Happy Valentine's Day! Love, Thomas"
Over the last few years we've become complacent about Valentine's Day. Neither of us needed to make a big production out of it and so we didn't. But this year I wanted to do something... something different. Something that makes you feel happy, bubbly, and excited... and as special as when someone sends you roses. And thus was born the concept for the American Beauty Cupcake - a tender chocolate cupcake topped with rose-scented American buttercream. I named it for the American Beauty rose, which is a very fragrant, full bloomed rose of a deep pink color.

American Beauty Cupcakes ~ makes approximately 16 cupcakes
1.25 cups whole milk
1 cup cake flour
1/2 cup AP flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate, melted
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp rose water
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Rose Flavored American Buttercream
3.5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
pinch salt
1 teaspoon rose water
2-3 teaspoons whole milk
food coloring, optional

Notes before you start: these cupcakes will dry out very quickly and are at their peak the same day they are made. If you must store them, store them in an air-tight container and consume as quickly as possible. Which shouldn't be too difficult if... um... you're anything like me.

Preheat oven to 350ยบ F.

Sift together the two flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate bowl cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, combining after each addition. Add melted chocolate and combine. Add half of the milk, gently beat in half of the dry ingredients, then milk. Add remaining dry ingredients and fold in with a rubber spatula.

Divide evenly among cupcake tins, filling each 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

To prepare the frosting, beat the butter until smooth. Add two cups of confectioner's sugar, one cup at a time, beating until incorporated. Add rose water and continue beating. Add one teaspoon of milk and remaining confectioner's sugar, one cup at a time, beating continuously. Add remaining milk, as needed, until desired consistency is reached. Note: if you like sky-high frosting you should make one and a half times the recipe indicated above.

You can leave the cupcakes as they are now, or if you want to be extra decadent (it is Valentine's Day, after all!) decorate with chocolate hearts. And if you're serving these for a very special Valentine dessert, pair them with Rosa Regale sparkling wine. Rosa Regale, meaning Regal Rose, is a sparkling red wine with notes of berries and roses. It pairs beautifully with chocolate desserts and is absolute magic with these cupcakes.

We don't need a holiday to say "I love you" but just because we love to bake yummy treats for those we love... I hope you'll have a cupcake.



  1. Oh Cake,

    I love your blog, which is beautifully written and a real pleasure to read, and of course your utterly fantastic recipes.


  2. Classy! I have never used rose water but I see it all the time on Cupcake Wars ;) Must be something I should try out. Beautiful cupcake decorations and great looking recipe!

  3. Hey Jess,
    I love your blog thank you for sharing with everyone. Question where could one get Rose water? Thanks
    Jimmy G. (LCB)

    1. Good to hear from you, Jimmy! I hope all is well with your cake making ventures. I got my rose water at Williams Sonoma but you can also get it at Middle Eastern grocery stores and possibly Whole Foods or Wegmans.

  4. Fab flavor, icing is yummy. Great recipe.

  5. i love this quote, you are the butter to my bread, the breath to my life. more than chocolate, i love these love quotes that people write in their posts. :) i'm such a romantic at heart! the american beauty cupcake looks delicious! i hope this year is a memorable valentine's day. sounds like you got a good man with ya~ :)

  6. I love the idea of making things on Valentine Day instead of doing the more conventional stuff. I'm so over Valentines day, I feel like I get so much love from my hubs during the year, I don't really need it. This is a beautiful tradition :)

  7. Decadent chocolate cupcakes for me any day, any time!!And yes, that scene from Julie & Julia is one of my favorites too!I loved the name of your beautiful cupcakes and how beautifully you've decorated them!Thanks for the recipe and have a great weekend!

  8. They are so pretty & lovely!!. If you get a chance, pl link with my event too
    Decorating Challenge- Valentine’s Day Ideas

  9. I love this recipe. A great use of rose water. Pink is my favorite color and suitable for Valentine's Day. Very beautiful decoration also.

  10. Love is in the air! These are adorable, and make me feel all bubbly and excited! :)

  11. These looks deliciously inviting. Lovely post like always

    The Pumpkin Farm

  12. Adorable cupcakes--especially love the rose flavored buttercream!

  13. Pretty! These make me feel happy and bubbly too!

  14. Those are gorgeous! And Thom sounds like a sweet, sweet man. Both perfect for Valentine's day!

  15. These look just wonderful!!! I love your chocolate recipes! And I've awarded you a Liebster Blog Love award - I've enjoyed reading your blog sooo much. Go to my site to get it at and keep up the great blogging!!

  16. These look absolutely fabulous! I love the love birds, especially, it's what we had on top of our wedding cake :)

  17. Cupcakes can definitely make a bad day good. I love the little birdies kissing.

  18. Sooo Pretty! I think that cupcakes make everyone feel better! Great Post! Thanks for sharing!

  19. They look so romantic! i love the presentation!

  20. What a sweet post! I think they'll be perfect for Valentines Day!

  21. These are so romantic and fabulous! I love the pink frosting and decorations :)

  22. These cupcakes are lovely, and more importantly they sound delicious! Hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day :)!

  23. Thanks for sharing this so pretty cupcakes...Happy Valentine's day!!

  24. I just love roast chicken, but somehow haven't made it that much!Your step-by-step tutorial is great for somebody like me who likes it, but is a bit intimidated!That color is gorgeous!Thanks for sharing Jess :)

  25. Beautiful cupcakes - a perfect recipe for V-Day :D
    I adore your recipes!

    Choc Chip Uru
    Latest: Giant Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Stuffed Peanut Butter M&M Cookie For One

  26. Very cute and lovely.. Its like making my valentine hearty-hearty..:') actually, I'm eating here at Pizza Paradiso Orlando and I'm imagining your cake as my dessert! I'm going to try this, thanks a lot for the recipe.

  27. Very cute and lovely.. Its like making my valentine hearty-hearty..:') actually, I'm eating here at Pizza Paradiso Orlando and I'm imagining your cake as my dessert! I'm going to try this, thanks a lot for the recipe.

  28. Such a Pretty Cake.
    This is a perfect gift for someone special.
    Your Pics looks fantastic.


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