Every Valentine’s Day, my brother and I would stumble into the kitchen. After rubbing the sleep from our eyes, we’d sort through the little piles of chocolate kisses and conversations hearts on the table that Cupid’s fairies dropped off during the night. (If Christmas has Santa and Easter has the Bunny, why wouldn’t Valentine’s Day have its own candy-carrying character?)
Then Mom would sigh and reluctantly allow us each to eat one sweet treat before making us a special breakfast. She usually whipped up pancakes, waffles, or cinnamon sugar toast — practically a dessert itself! As soon as she set our plates in front of us, we’d inhale the food before rushing off to school.
But if February 14th fell on a weekend, we’d enjoy a more leisurely breakfast. Mom would bake Pillsbury croissants or even homemade muffins, if we promised not to sneak extra chocolates while the pastries cooled on the counter. And with such festive muffins waiting for us, we readily agreed!
Heart-Shaped Cranberry Muffins
modified from CL’s raspberry cream cheese muffins
These muffins are sweet enough on their own, but some people might mistake these as little Pac-Mans instead of hearts without icing…
6 tbsp dried cranberries
¼ c. water
1 c. flour
½ tsp baking powder
⅛ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ c. fat-free cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp tub-style margarine
¾ c. sugar
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ c. skim milk
4-6 tbsp powdered sugar
¼ tsp water
⅛ tsp vanilla extract
2 drops red food coloring
- Preheat the oven to 350°, and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Lightly coat the liners with nonstick cooking spray. Drop a marble in between each paper liner and the side of the muffin cup to form a heart shape.
- To prepare the muffins, combine the cranberries and water in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and heat on high for 2½ min. Let cool and drain any remaining liquid.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, cream the cheese, margarine, and sugar. Add in the egg whites, one at a time, and the vanilla, mixing well. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and the milk, mixing just until incorporated, and beginning and ending with the flour. Gently fold in the cranberries.
- Evenly distribute the batter between the prepared liners, and bake at 350° for 22-25 min or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 min before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- To prepare the icing, stir together 4 tablespoons of powdered sugar, water, vanilla, and food coloring in a small bowl. Add more powdered sugar as necessary to achieve the desired consistency. Spread in the shape of a heart on top of each muffin.