Hey, watch out!
Phew! You almost got hit with that arrow! That could only mean one thing: It’s Valentine’s Day!
Ah, the holiday where sweets rule and chubby babies yielding weapons aren’t a brow-raising encounter. It’s also a day for many killjoy couples to make the irritating declaration that they don’t need a holiday to show their love. (mega eye roll) Nay Nay. Valentine’s Day is more than flowers and candy – I mean, there’s cake, too! Okay, I was kidding about that one. Well, not really … I mean, cake is delicious, but I digress.
Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love, friendship, and the joy of having other people in your life. Not just your lover, but your friends, your parents … anyone you want to tell “thank you for loving me.” And, yes, we should appreciate our loved ones all year round, yadda yadda, obviously, but let’s be honest here: if there wasn’t a holiday telling you to bring home cake, you’d probably never bring home cake, right? We all know the truth. So, this Valentine’s Day, instead of making silly announcements and ruining everyone’s fun, read this article and learn how to make the best of the holiday of love (with some help from Valentine’s Day Cupcakes of course).
The History of Valentine’s Day: Cupid, Hearts, and Gifts
Most people know the basic story of Valentine’s Day. The tales of good priest Valentine officiating weddings in secret to assuage Roman Emperor Claudius II’s outlaw on marriage are told in elementary schools across the world. You may also know that Valentine was captured for his crimes and beheaded on February 14th, only to be sainted by the Catholic Church centuries later. But what you may not know is that the oldest-known valentine was sent from a prisoner to his wife in 1415.
The “valentine” itself was a poem, written by Charles, the Duke of Orléans, when he was 21 years old. Charles was born into a petulant French royal family. His father, Louis I, presided over the House of Orléans, and his uncle, King Charles VI of France, also known as Charles the Mad (he was said to be schizophrenic), oversaw the House of Burgundy. Both men fought for control of France, and poor Charles was caught in the middle.
Like most royals at the time, Charles’s marital life had little to do with love. At only 12 years old, he was married to his 17-year-old cousin (the daughter of King Charles VI) Isabella of Valois.
A year later, Charle’s father, Louis I, was brutally assassinated, and his mother died soon after. Charles and his brothers accused their first cousin, John the Fearless (Duke of Burgandy), of murdering their father in an attempt to usurp power. They vowed revenge, thus intensifying the family civil war.
Soon after, in 1409, Charles’s young wife Isabella died giving birth. In yet another act of political alliance, Charles was then forced to marry 11-year-old Bonne of Armagnac, daughter of Bernard VII, Count of Armagnac, and soon-to-be Constable of France. Their marriage solidified the union of the two bloodlines. During the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, Charles was captured and imprisoned by the Burgundians. He was held prisoner in the Tower of London and, while there, he wrote a poem to his wife.
Charles addressed the note to his “very gentle Valentine,” referring to his wife, but the tone of his poem is less an expression of love and more a macabre verse about their dire ending.
Unfortunately, having been imprisoned for 25 years, Charles never saw his beloved wife again. She died sometime between 1430 and 1435, having never reunited with her husband or given birth to any children.
Charles went on to write hundreds of poems about love and nobility while in prison. Years after Bonne’s death, Charles returned to France and, at age 46, married Mary of Cleves, 14. They had three children. He died in 1465, but his poetry lives on in several books, including “The Poems of Charles Orleans” by Sally Purcell.
Mini-Cakes: Where did Valentine’s Day Cupcakes Come From?
It sounds to me like something two burnouts would think upon a drunken Friday night: a portable cake you can carry in your hand and stuff into your face in three bites or less. But in actuality, the first idea of the cupcake was thought up in 1796 by American baker Amelia Simmons. While she didn’t physically name the product, her cookbook, ‘American Cookery’, listed the first recipe for “a light cake to bake in small cups.”
It wasn’t until 1828 when celebrated author and cooking expert, Eliza Leslie, published “Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats” that we first heard the phrase “cupcake.” (You can find that very first recipe here!)
However, the real truth is, while Miss Leslie may have been the first to use the term, there is no single inventor of this delectable treat. Most of the time, ‘cupcake’ was simply the given name for measuring the ingredients – by volume, using a standard-sized cup, instead of being weighed – much like ‘pound’ cake.
With its compact size and perfect shape, the cupcake became an economical baked good for both bakers and consumers. Cupcakes are universally loved by children; they can be shared and gifted, and are the perfect choice for birthday parties and other celebrations.
While the history of the cupcake can’t be traced as easily as most desserts we know today, one thing is certain — bigger isn’t always better, and good things definitely come in small packaging.
Ditch the Roses: Why You Should Send Cake Instead!
While flowers may be the traditional Valentine’s Day Gift, I say … c’mon, dude, you can do better than that. Gifts are meant to be thoughtful. That means ditch the same tired bouquet of red roses you got last year (and the year before that, and probably the year before that, too) and, this year, send something your recipient truly wants. No, I’m not talking about diamonds; I’m talking about cake.
Delicious, dreamy, and sometimes decadent, cake is the perfect gift for virtually any occasion. After all, nothing says “I think you’re sweet” quite as much as sending sweets, and the endless variety of flavors express the ways of amour like nothing else.
Red is the symbolic color of romance. Convey your passion with an indulgent Red Velvet Love Cake.
Perhaps you have something a little more sinful in mind? A dozen decadent chocolate Valentine’s day cupcakes will extend the intimacy from one day to twelve.
If friendship is all you’re trying to reveal, a vanilla cake with festive sprinkles is just what the love doctor (aka you) ordered.
This Valentine’s Day, when you’re trying to come up with the ideal gift for someone you love, remember: Ditch the roses. Send cake instead!
Our Favorite Valentine’s Day Cupcakes Recipe
Peanut butter and jelly are staples in my house. If you have kids, I bet you’re nodding your heads right now. Most kids love little more than a hearty PB&J sandwich, except for maybe homemade cupcakes. Combine them, and you have a delicious dessert that your family will beg for again and again. Now, between you and me, my co-worker Shannon Youngblood makes them the best, and she guards the very prestigious (and award-winning!) recipe with her life. But it just so happens that I got my hands on a copy, and I’ll share it below, as long as it remains our little secret.
Shannon’s Secret Recipe: Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes
- — Yellow Cake Mix (If you’re buying from the store, buy a box that says “moist”. Trust me. This is IMPORTANT)
- — Eggs
- — Oil
- — Milk
- — 1 Box of Vanilla Instant Pudding
- — Jelly (I use Grape, but feel free to use whatever jelly YOU like)
- — Jumbo Cupcake Liners (You can find these at any craft store)
- — Creamy Peanut Butter
- — 2 Bags of Confectioners Sugar
- — 4 Sticks of Unsalted Butter
- — Vanilla Extract
- — Gallon Zip Lock Bags
Before You Start:
- Make sure your Milk, Butter, and Eggs are ROOM TEMPERATURE.
- — Spray your Jumbo Liners with light cooking spray
- — Follow your box cake decorations with the following changes:
- — Add 1 extra egg
- — Add a splash of vanilla extract
- — Swap the water in your directions for the milk
- — Mix with a WHISK ONLY until there are no lumps. Do NOT overmix or they won’t rise.
- — Mix in your box of Instant Pudding Mix DRY. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes. You’ll see it start to thicken.
- — Fill your liners until they are ½ -⅔ full. (Your liners will stick out of the pan a bit, but that’s completely ok!)
- — Follow your box directions for oven temperature.
- — Put your cupcakes in for 10 minutes and then rotate and bake again for another 8-10 minutes, or until your toothpick comes out clean.
- — Wait until they are COMPLETELY COOL on a cooling rack or your counter.
- — Take a pairing knife and at an angle cut a deep circle through the top of your cupcake and pop out the piece of cake. (It will look like a cone of cake)
- — In a bowl, combine a couple of tablespoons of jelly and a splash of water and mix. The water will help make it more pliable to work with.
- — Scoop a little bit of your jelly into the hole you’ve made and pop your cake cone back on top. (Don’t worry if it’s not flush. Your icing will cover your hole)
- — Make sure your butter is SOFT, but not MELTED.
- — Add 2 sticks of your butter into your mixer, or into a bowl with a hand mixer, and mix until it is well creamed.
- — Add a splash of vanilla.
- — Add ½ Cup- ¾ cup of peanut butter and combine these together.
- — Add a splash of milk and half of a 2lb bag of powdered confectioner’s sugar. (Be very careful or you’ll have a kitchen full of powdered sugar!)
- — Slowly add in more powdered sugar, and splashes of milk until you get the consistency of icing. There is no wrong answer on consistency. Whatever YOU like works perfectly!
- — Now, if you’re like me and you make Valentine’s Day cupcakes for fun and don’t have piping bags, grab one of your gallon-sized ziplock bags, and fill it up with your icing.
- — A few tips. Cut a very small corner to start and increase as needed. You don’t want icing going everywhere.
- — After you’ve got the right size, squeeze your bag into a bowl until it “burps” This will save you from an ugly swirl on your cupcake.
- — You can swirl your bag around and up, or even just a fun blob on top.
- — The top is up to you. Sometimes I leave it plain, sometimes I’ll add a chocolate peanut butter cup, and sometimes a spoonful of jelly. It’s really up to you!
We’d love to see how they come out if you try this recipe! Tag us on social media with the hashtag #Cakesoverseas!
Woo-Hoo! You’ve learned all about cute little Valentine’s Day Cupcakes!
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Toni T. is a writer, mother, amateur makeup artist, and coffee addict — not necessarily in that order! A lover of all things vintage, she’s an encyclopedia of useless 80’s trivia and adores a bold red lip. She is a second-generation Greek American with dreams of traveling abroad to see the land on which her ancestors walked but, for now, she resides in the ‘burbs of New Jersey with her husband and children.