Friday, May 2, 2014

Sweet Strawberry Cupcakes

Until about 6 months ago, my definition of homemade cupcakes was a box mix. And don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with mixes. But as the rest of my cooking abilities began to develop I decided I needed a new challenge -- cupcakes. 

Cupcakes are great because they're perfectly portioned-out desserts, and you can customize them with hundreds of different cake / frosting combinations.

So today I’m sharing with you the single greatest strawberry cupcake recipe ever. Trust me, it does not get better than this. The amount of strawberry flavor packed into one of these little cupcakes is pretty unbelievable. And because you use real strawberries, the flavor tastes fresh and not artificial.

As I was making this recipe for the first time, I took a moment to taste the batter. I was BLOWN AWAY with the flavor. I seriously could not stop eating the batter. I passed the point of “I should probably stop eating this” and went straight to “I don’t care how sick I feel, I can’t stop.” And I can’t say I regret it. (Disclaimer: I should probably tell you not to eat raw batter seeing as it does have health risks)

When I finally came into consciousness after my "cupcake batter coma," I was able to salvage and bake the fluffiest, moistest (that’s a funny word) cupcakes ever.

Additionally, there are several options available when you're ready to frost the cupcakes. I made both a strawberry cream cheese frosting and a strawberry buttercream frosting. The verdict from my taste-testers was that they were both equally good, so I’ll post both recipes and let you decide which one you want to use!

Sweet Strawberry Cupcakes
Yield: About 24 cupcakes

For the Cupcakes
·      1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
·      1 cup granulated sugar
·      1 large egg
·      3/4 cup milk
·      1/4 cup strawberry yogurt
·      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·      1 and 2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
·      1/2 teaspoon baking powder
·      1/4 teaspoon baking soda
·      1/4 teaspoon salt
·      5 large strawberries (fresh or frozen)

For the Cupcakes
1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.     Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
3.     In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.
4.     Remove bowl from microwave and stir in sugar.
5.     Stir in egg, milk, yogurt, and vanilla extract until combined.
6.     In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
7.     Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and slowly mix until no lumps remain.  Set aside.
8.     Put strawberries in a food processor and pulse until strawberries become a chunky puree. You should have about 1/3 cup.
9.     Add the strawberry puree to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and fold it in.
10. Divide the batter among the 12 cupcake liners.
11.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
12. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Now that you’ve made the cupcakes, choose from either the strawberry cream cheese frosting recipe of the strawberry buttercream recipe to frost them!

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
·      8 ounces strawberry cream cheese, softened to room temperature
·      1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
·      3 cups confectioners' sugar
·      2 tablespoons heavy cream
·      2 teaspoons vanilla extract
·      1/4 teaspoon salt

1.     In a medium bowl beat the strawberry cream cheese and the butter together on medium speed for 3 minutes.
2.     Add 1/2 cup of the confectioners’ sugar and beat until combined
3.     Add another 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar and beat again
4.     Continue process until you’ve added and beaten all the confectioners’ sugar
5.     Add the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt
6.     Beat on medium speed for another 2 minutes

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
·      1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
·      1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
·      1/3 cup strawberry preserves
·      4 cups confectioners’ sugar
·      2 tablespoons heavy cream
·      ½ teaspoon salt

1.     Beat butter and vanilla together for 2 minutes
2.     Add strawberry jam and beat for another 2 minutes
3.     Add 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar and beat until combined
4.     Add another 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar and beat again
5.     Continue process until you’ve added and beaten all the confectioners’ sugar
6.     Add the heavy cream and salt
7.     Beat on medium speed for another 2 minutes

1.     It may seem silly to beat the butter for so long in the frosting recipes, but it’s completely necessary. It makes the frosting fluffy and ensures that you don’t end up with chunks of butter when biting into your cupcake.
2.     The amount of confectioners’ sugar in a frosting recipe controls the thickness of the frosting. If you think your frosting is too thin or if it isn’t holding shape just add more confectioners’ sugar.

This recipe is adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

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