Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Perfect Way to SayYou Care - Conversation Heart Cupcakes

I know I don't usually post twice a day (heck, I'm lucky if I can get two a week done) but today - since it's Valentine's Day - I decided I couldn't not share these with you.  And since they start with a red velvet cupcake which I posted about earlier today, they kind of go together.

When I think of Valentine's Day, I think of two things: Whitman's chocolate sampler and Necco Conversation Hearts.  I always hated the conversation hearts.  They are very cute and they are a standard - especially in elementary school when the whole class exchanges valentines - but to me they are deceptively chalky and boring.  I've heard that in recent years, Necco has remade them and they are now fruity and more like sweet tarts, but I haven't tried the new variety because I can't get over the memory with how they used to taste.  But regardless of how I feel, there is no denying that Conversation Hearts are a quintessential part of Valentine's Day.  And now, I've finally found a way to share Conversation Hearts and still like the taste of them!

How cute are these?? They start with a basic red velvet cupcake and cream cheese frosting (or really any flavor combination that you feel like using) with the charm being in the cute little fondant toppers with conversation hearts messages written with food coloring markers.  At first I didn't love that the markers gave kind of a faded look to them, but then I opened a package of the candies and I realized in real life, the color is faded.  Done and done.

Working with fondant tends to be a little intimidating, but for a small cupcake topper, it's actually not that hard.  You will need some wax paper, crisco, toothpicks, food writer markers, gel food colorings, white fondant, a cutter (heart in this case), gloves and a rolling pin.

Line the counter with some waxed paper and put a little piece of the fondant down.  Make sure to keep the fondant you aren't using wrapped up so that it doesn't dry out.  Using a toothpick, add little bits of color at a time.  For the conversation hearts, we want some nice pastels so less is more with the food coloring.

While wearing the gloves, knead the color into the fondant as if you're playing with silly putty or pulling taffy.  Use a little bit of crisco if the fondant starts to get too stiff.

To roll out the fondant, put another piece of waxed paper on top of the pile and roll it out.

Again, you can use a little crisco to rub out any lines that may have been left by the waxed paper.  And then just punch out a bunch of hearts.

Transfer the hearts to a cookie sheet lined with more waxed paper.

Proceed with the rest of the colors: pink, yellow, orange, green and violet.  Technically, conversation hearts also come in white, but a white heart on top of white frosting is a little boring.  Set this sheet aside in a cool, dry area to dry for a few hours.

Funny, I totally had a sweater with this pattern when I was younger and I would totally wear it on Valentine's Day

After a few hours, when the hearts are all good and dry, it is time to write the messages on them.

Half of these got some pretty generic, friendly messages since they were going to my father's office.  But the other half got the classic messages like "be mine," "kiss me," and "xoxo."

To decorate your cupcakes, you can do a nice flat swirl of frosting.  I chose not to do too high of a pile, instead swirling from the inside out, so that the hearts had a good flat surface to sit on.

And then just place the hearts on the center and they are ready for you to tell someone how you really feel about them.

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day and take the time to tell someone how you feel about them.

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