Since this is the day o' love, I wanted to give you all a strawberry-tacular recipe that's sure to please any Valentine. And to really show them you care about them, these Strawberry Baby-Cakes are made from scratch and frosted with a pink icing that takes it's hue from strawberries. No artificial food dyes in this one!
Yields 6 "baby cakes"
6 ramekins, greased
2 Tbsp vanilla
1 package of your favorite vanilla cake mix (I use Pamela's Classic Vanilla Cake Mix for gluten free and do the 3 egg equivalent of Ener-G Egg Replacer to keep these egg free, but they will turn out more like a sponge cake if you do that, still delicious)
1 cup chopped strawberries
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp honey
16 oz cream cheese (I use Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese for dairy free)
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
Splash of vanilla
6 reserved strawberries, sliced into a fan, for garnish, optional
Into a small saucepan, heat your strawberries, water and honey over medium high heat. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium and allow strawberries to cook down until you have a soupy consistency. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a minute or two, then using a blender or an immersion blender, puree the strawberry compote until completely smooth. This will yield you just shy of 1 cup of puree. Place it into the fridge to chill completely, at least 1 hour or more.
Prepare cake batter according to package directions, but if it doesn't already call for vanilla, add 2 Tbsp more. Divide batter among 6 prepared ramekins and bake according to package directions. Check with a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake to make sure they are done through and through. You'll want to use the cupcake recommended bake time on the package, and then may have to add a minute or two. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Once fully cooled, with just a slight twist, you should be able to easily pull each baby cake out of it's ramekin.
While cakes are baking, prepare your frosting. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together your cream cheese, powdered sugar, strawberry puree and splash of vanilla. Blend until completely smooth and is a beautiful light pink color. Pour into a pastry bag if you want to get fancy, or just plan to drizzle over the cakes (I tried both, but my piping skills are abysmal so I just said screw it and grabbed a spoon). Either way, pour into bag or leave in the bowl and allow to set up in the fridge until your cakes are completely cooled and ready to frost. Because of the low powdered sugar but high liquid content in this frosting, don't expect a super firm frosting, it will be more of a ganache or thick yogurt consistency, but it's delicious and refreshing.
Divide strawberry cream cheese frosting evenly between all cake and if you're drizzling the way I did, it looks like you tried to do something cool if you let it run down the sides a bit. Then garnish each baby cake with a fanned strawberry and prepare yourself because the cook is about to be kissed!