May 13, 2011

Party In Your Mouth: Strawberry Cupcakes

I can't resist the overwhelmingly large containers of fresh fruit at Costco. With strawberry season in full force, how can you resist the 8lb container? Not me! However, I can only snack on so many strawberries - plain, with a little sugar sprinkled on top or dipped in nutella - before the freshness starts to decline. 

I found some very odd, unique takes to dishes using strawberries, such as this strawberry risotto. Not tempting enough to make but still very interesting indeed.  Maybe one day I will venture out and try this....maybe. 

I had a cupcake craving several weeks ago and ended up going to the grocery store to buy some.  They weren't great and didn't satisfy my craving one bit.  This was my opportunity and hooray, it was great!  Using fresh strawberries definitely added an additional level of flavor - the bites of baked strawberries in the cupcakes with the combination of the fresh strawberries in the frosting worked well together.  I don't like overly sweet cupcakes so these cupcakes were perfect. If you like sweeter cupcakes, you can add more sugar - maybe 1/2 cup more or added more sugar to the frosting.  I also made a small batch of mango cupcakes and they were just as good. They made the batter a little more moist and you can probably cut down on the sugar as the mangos I had were incredibly sweet.  Sorry, no pictures of the mango cupcakes.

Strawberry Cupcakes
Makes approximately 36 cupcakes

1 3/4 sticks of unsalted butter
1.5 cups sugar
5 eggs
Zest from two lemons
1 cup sour cream
3 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
2.5 cups diced strawberries
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Make sure your butter is room temperature. I like to take mine out at least a half day in advance so it is perfectly creamy when you mix. In your mixer, cream butter and sugar on high for about 2 minute.  
3. For the eggs, I like to bring them out about an hour prior to baking.  Crack into a bowl to make sure you don’t get a bad egg in your batter or any shells.  Add one egg at a time to the sugar butter mixture while it is on medium high. Make sure to stop and scrape down the sides to make sure it is evenly mixed.  
Don't worry if it looks a little curdled. Keep mixing and it will smooth out.  
4. Add the sour cream and vanilla.  You can cut down on the vanilla but I have a tendency to almost always double the amount because I love the hint of flavor it provides. Let this mix on medium slow.  

5. Next, add the lemon zest.  

6. In another bowl, mix together the cake flour, salt and baking soda. You can use unbleached flour if you do not have cake flour. With cake flour, I find that it is just a little lighter and you end up coming out with less dense cupcakes. Add the flour to the mixer in three portions – making sure to turn off the mixture when you add or you’ll have a nice sprinkle of flour on your face and clothes.  

7. Add in the diced strawberries with a spatula and/or fork.
8. With your cupcake pan all nice and lined, use an ice cream scoop and fill each cupcake liner about 3/4th of the way.  
 (I made mini cupcakes too.)
9. Bake for 20-25 minutes. I put my timer at 18 minutes just in case your oven cooks a little faster. My total time in the oven was 22 minutes.

Meringue cupcake frosting

2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup sugar
1 stick butter
1 cup diced strawberries

1. With a small bowl set over a pot of simmering water on the stove, beat the egg whites and sugar with a hand mixer until it doubles in size and becomes a little frothy.  You want to make sure the sugar is dissolved.  
2. Pour the mixture into your electric mixer with a whisk attachment (you can probably still use the hand mixer if you’d like) and set it on medium high. Start adding the butter 1 tbsp at a time until it becomes light and creamy. Add in the vanilla extract. 
3. With a spatula, fold in the strawberries into the frosting mixture.  Spread a little bit onto each cupcake and enjoy!

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