For the cupcakes:
For the chocolate butter cream frosting:
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 3/4 c powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/4 c cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2-3 Tbl milk or heavy cream
- Fresh strawberries, washed and dried completely
- 1 lb bag orange candy melts
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- 10-12 store-bought, gluten-free chocolate sandwich cookies
Preheat and prepare.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two standard sized muffin pans with a total of 18 paper liners. Set aside.
Prepare the cupcake batter.
In a large mixing bowl and a handheld electric mixer, beat together the cake mix and room temperature butter until thick. Add the sour cream and milk, blending well to combine. Add the eggs one at a time and beat on medium speed for one additional minute. Use a standard ice cream scoop to fill the muffin cups 3/4 of the way full - I made 18 cupcakes filling the ice cream scoop level.
Bake the cupcakes for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the frosting.
While the cupcakes are cooling, make the chocolate buttercream. Using a stand mixer or a handheld mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt and slowly mix in on low speed; mixture will be thick. Add the milk or cream one tablespoon at a time. Beat the frosting 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy. Set aside.
Prepare the garnish.
Crush the chocolate cookies in the bowl of a food processor or mini chopper. Set aside in a shallow bowl. Melt the coconut oil and orange candy melts in a microwave safe bowl at 50% for 2 minutes in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds or until smooth. Carefully dip the fresh strawberries and swirl to remove excess. Place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet to harden. Repeat with remaining strawberries. Spoon remaining melted chocolate into a small zip top bag. Seal bag and let sit for 1-2 minutes to cool slightly. Snip off a small corner of the bag and gently drizzle chocolate over the dipped strawberries. Let harden.
Assemble the cupcakes.
Using a small spoon, scoop out small hold in the center of each cupcake to make an indentation for the dipped strawberry. Frost the area on top of the cupcake around the hole with chocolate buttercream, then dip in the crushed cookies to cover the buttercream. Gently push a strawberry 'carrot' into the remaining hole of the cupcake. Repeat with remaining cupcakes. Serve. Makes 18 cupcakes.
Adapted from Life Made Simple and Savory Sweet Life