Chocolate Cupcakes with Flaming Strawberries

Yield:  About 20 cupcakes

Cupcakes:

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line muffin tin with cupcake papers and set aside.

Sift together cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.  Add eggs, water, heavy cream, oil and vanilla.  Mix with a hand held mixer until smooth. 
Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each half full.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Let cool before frosting.

Frosting:

2 sticks softened butter
4 cups confectioners' sugar
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, cream together sugar, cocoa and butter; beginning on low speed then increase to high.  Beat until fluffy and lightened in color.  Transfer mixture to a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip.  Frost cupcakes.

Strawberries:

18-24 Strawberries - you'll need as many as you have cupcakes
Vodka, rum, or your choice of liquor 80 proof or higher (use Bacardi 151 for fail-proof results)

Hollow the strawberries carefully.  If you pierce the side of the strawberry accidentally, start with a new one.  Since you'll be setting the liquor aflame, it is important that your strawberry is leak-proof.
 
Set one strawberry atop each frosted cupcake.  Fill strawberries with liquor just before lighting (see tips).  If you need to light them all at once, (say, for a party) use a turkey baster to quickly fill all the strawberries and a grill lighter in lieu of matches.



Notes for flaming strawberries:
  • Any alcohol below 80 proof will not light well.  I used 80 proof and got a nice blue flambe'. Note: some have had trouble getting 80 proof to ignite - lots of people are recommending Bacardi 151 as a fail-safe.  
  • You can add a little sugar to the inside of the strawberry to sweeten things up.  However, the flame seems to last longer without the addition of sugar.
  • Make sure to use a liquor that you like.  Vodka is a good choice if you want very little flavor.
  • Alcohol evaporates, so light the strawberry soon after you spoon the liquor in. 
  • Do I have to say it?  Probably not, but my conscience will not let me go without.  Do not attempt to eat a flaming strawberry.  It's a relatively short burn time, lasting about 30 seconds to 1 minute. So, enjoy but be careful.  Use your noodle.

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