Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ugh... It's Valentine's Day

Nothing like a week of 12 hour work days ending on none other than Valentine's Day. Could I be anymore lucky? Now, I'm not bitter, just frustrated. I came across the idea of Strawberry Cupcakes on Tuesday and have been plotting their creation ever since; unfortunately I had to wait until today (Valentine's Day) to make them. The recipe yields 34, so it looks like I'll be playing cupcake cupid all weekend to avoid the possible accident of eating them all myself...

My friend Doro has perfected the fresh fruit cupcakes, and her creations at SweetieCups were definitely part of my inspiration. Martha (Stewart) provided me with the basic cupcake recipe and I added a few twists and turns: lemon juice to enhance the strawberry flavor and a lighter, healthier frosting. Sorry, but Buttercream makes me gag especially when I look at the recipe, "3 sticks of butter and 1 Cup of Sugar". Sorry Martha, but I want to enjoy my cupcake guiltlessly. However, if you do enjoy guilty pleasures, go for the buttercream frosting. Another tip is instead of chopping your berries coarsely puree them in a cuisinart. This will save you a lot of time and help bring out the ever so soft pink flush in the cake. And, of course, the sweeter the berry the better the cupcake!

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs plus 1 egg white
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups coarsely pureed strawberries (save some for garnishing)

4 cups + powdered sugar
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, very soft.
4 - 6 tablespoons of the pureed strawberries
1 tablespoon red sprinkles (optional)
squeeze of a lemon
Fresh strawberries or chocolate shavings for decoration

Preheat oven to 350F degrees

Line your standard muffin tins with paper liners, I prefer white. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a mixer cream butter and sugar until light and fluggy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition. I like to crack mine into a liquid measuring cup and pour them in one at a time.

Reduce speed to low. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet (milk & vanilla) and ending with dry. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl so ingredients are well combined. Divide the batter among the cupcake cups, and fill each about 2/3 full.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until toothpick tester comes out clean (mine took about 20 minutes). Let cool in tins on wire racks. Per Martha, cupcakes will keep, covered, for up to 2 days.

For the frosting, in a bowl, combine the butter, powdered sugar, strawberries, lemon juice and sprinkles in a mixer or with a hand mixer. Beat on very high until ingredients are combined. Continue adding more powdered sugar until frosting reaches your preferred thickness.

Pipe or spoon frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. I topped mine with fresh strawberries and/or chocolate shavings. Although you don't get the typical cupcake look with this frosting, the results taste awesome!

Happy Valentine's Day! Be sure to give your loved ones a hug... or a strawberry cupcake.

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