May 10, 2010

Strawberry Cupcakes

For her 30th birthday party last week, a  friend requested that every guest bring a cupcake as the price of admission: an excellent excuse to dust off the old cupcake tin and bake a few--something I haven't done in ages.    I wanted to make something fun, and pink seemed like the perfect color for the occasion.  (Apparently, my instincts were right on).

Pink made me think of fresh strawberries, which were already on my mind because the 14th and U Farmers' Market had featured an early crop of strawberries that morning (only for the early-birds, though).  I settled for frozen strawberries and a recipe from Sprinkles Cupcakes, which had been featured on Martha Stewart and appeared in my search for "fresh strawberry cupcake recipe."
Overall, they turned out very well.  The cake itself left a little to be desired.  The cupcakes had a lovely, soft pink hue, but the strawberry flavor was a little too subtle and the crumb was a little too coarse (almost like cornbread) and just the slightest bit too dry.  I may be able to account for the dryness in the fact that I only had 2% milk, rather than the whole milk called for, but with so much butter in the recipe already, I don’t see how a few grams of milk-fat could make that much of a difference.  I am curious to know whether using 2 whole eggs (rather than one whole and 2 whites) and using cake flour (rather than all-purpose) would improve the texture.  Next time, I also plan to experiment with ways to boost the strawberry flavor -- without using anything artificial.  My first thought was dried strawberries  because the flavor is concentrated and they wouldn’t require adjusting the liquids in the recipe.  However, I think an even better way may be to use twice as much strawberry puree, but cook it down by about half, so that it is the same volume as that required in the original recipe.
The frosting was the cupcakes’ saving grace--rich and creamy with wonderfully bright, fresh strawberry flavor (although next time I may try using a bit less butter).  The recipe made more than enough for 12 cupcakes.  I ended up using all of it, but found that the cupcakes may have been better with about 1/3 less frosting.  (And I rarely ever think there’s such a thing as too much frosting.)
All that being said, the cupcakes were a hit, both with Brian and with the birthday girl, and I can’t wait to have the opportunity to make (and eat) them again!
The recipes are certainly worth a try…


Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcakes

Makes 1 dozen

2/3 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
Place strawberries in a small food processor; process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree, add a few more strawberries if necessary or save any extra puree for frosting; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.

With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.


Sprinkles Strawberry Frosting

Makes enough for 1 dozen cupcakes

1/2 cup whole frozen strawberries, thawed
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
Pinch of coarse salt
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until pureed. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree (save any remaining strawberry puree for another use); mix until just blended. Do not overmix or frosting will incorporate too much air. Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.

1 comment:

Leslie said...

We celebrated Jack's first birthday with strawberry cupcakes. Strawberry cake is Don's grandmother's specialty.

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