Cupcakes are all the rage - and I say it's about time....who doesn't like their own personal little cake?! Back when my kids were in school and it was still fine to take home-made treats for their birthdays, they always requested cupcakes. I was forever making cupcakes...the regular sized ones...and just when it became politically incorrect to take cupcakes to school, my kids had graduated and I had moved on to mini-cupcakes...just two small bites, hardly worth counting calories!
The next best thing to a cupcake, mini or not, is a cupcake with filling...it's like this nice little surprise inside of a nice little surprise! Fillings are really easy to whip up - with ingredients that you have on hand and everyone who eats one will think you're a genius - they'll never guess at how simple it is!
For a bridal shower, I made three different kinds of cupcakes - vanilla, lemon and chocolate - and four different kinds of fillings...strawberry cream, peaches and cream, lemon cream and chocolate fudge - all topped with the same vanilla buttercream frosting, as I ran out of time! For most cream fillings I start with preserves. For strawberry cream I used room temperature strawberry preserves, and having them at room temp is really important. I combine the preserves with fresh unsweetened whipped cream, fill a pastry bag with a large decorator tip and that's it. There is a trick to filling cupcakes...the first two or so usually get "blown up" because I apply too much pressure and filling shoots out the sides ...so of course I have to eat those immediately.
Once I had my kids helping me fill cupcakes - I gave them each a bag and showed them how to do it - I left the kitchen for a second and when I returned both of them had their bags up to their mouths squeezing as fast as they could!
1/2 cup preserves or curd (strawberry, peach, plum, raspberry, lemon curd, lime curd, etc.)
1 cup unsweetened whipped cream
Bring preserves to room temperature, whisk by hand until smooth. If you're using preserves with pieces of fruit, make sure the fruit is small enough to go through the decorator tip, if not, remove them. If you don't want pieces of fruit - which I personally like - then use jellies. Fold in whipped cream until well incorporated. Attach a large decorator tip to a pastry bag, fill with filling. Gently push tip into center of cupcake and apply slight pressure - when you see the filling coming back out the top, you're done! You can scrape off the filling on top of the cupcake with a spoon, if you want, or when frosting the cupcake just go over it (easy to do if you're piping on the frosting.)
To make a chocolate fudge filling in a snap, melt 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave, stir until smooth. Let sit until room temperature, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1 cup whipped cream, and mix to combine. Fill pastry bag with large tip and fill cupcakes.