Monday, March 4, 2013

Strawberry Cupcakes

Try to follow along: I place a call to Alyssa and it was going to voice mail. I start heading out of the alley, looking left for any oncoming cars as I begin to turn right. No cars from the left so I turn my view (and the car) to the right and encounter a small, blue convertible heading straight at me. The driver gets out of his car and decides to give me a piece of his mind about how I shouldn't be on the phone (ok, maybe so) and I should stay in my lane. My rationale disappears "Hey buddy, you are in MY lane." This is not the UK (or wherever your accent is from) and you do not drive on the left side. Once you move to our country, you get to follow our laws and the accent does not serve as an excuse. After a few back and forths, he closes his car door and I roll up my window and mutter "jacka** (there were no kids in the car.)

Then I remember my phone call.  I wonder if Alyssa liked the vmail that I left for her.

Spring says to me “pastels” and “fruit” so maybe that’s why strawberry cupcakes invaded my brain the other day.  I found this recipe on Oprah and Martha Stewart so it must be true!  I crave a powerful strawberry flavor to my cupcakes so am recommending (and will try myself) adding strawberry extract to the original recipe.

Strawberry Cupcakes
1.      2/3 cup fresh or frozen whole strawberries (thawed if frozen)
2.      1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3.      1 t baking powder
4.      1/4 t coarse salt
5.      1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
6.      1 t pure vanilla extract
7.      1 t strawberry extract*
8.      1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
9.      1 cup sugar
10.  1 large egg , room temperature
11.  2 large egg whites, room temperature

* this recipe has not been tested with the strawberry extract however I prefer a more strawberry flavor to the cupcake itself so will try this next time

1.      1/2 cup frozen whole strawberries , thawed
2.      1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter , firm and slightly cold
3.      Pinch coarse salt
4.      3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar , sifted
5.      1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

To make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350°. 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.

To make the icing:
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 (I had to scrape down the sides and attachment often).  Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree; mix until just blended. Do not overmix, or frosting will incorporate too much air.  Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.

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