Posted by Grace Massa Langlois on Friday, 1st February 2013
I haven’t made cupcakes in a while and I’ve been craving the taste of sweet, juicy strawberries unfortunately the strawberries at my local market aren’t as sweet and juicy this time of year. Thankfully I tucked a few flats away in the freezer during the peak of Ontario strawberry season making them perfect for using throughout the winter in recipes like this one for Strawberry Cupcakes. It’s the best way I know how to give my winter-baked goods a kiss of summer.
Although the process is a little time consuming especially when you’re freezing a few flats nothing beats the taste of fresh, in-season berries. The process for freezing berries is quite easy; wash, hull, pat dry and freeze in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with baking paper (to prevent sticking to pan).
When the berries are completely frozen, portion (I freeze in 226 g or 8 ounce portions), transfer to resealable plastic bags and return to freezer for storage.
The other benefit of freezing berries in-season aside from the obvious health benefits is the cost-savings, fruit is much cheaper to purchase during the growing season. I’m ashamed to share that when I was working I rarely thought in terms of cost savings but now that I’m home and my income has dropped it’s become a priority.
Funny thing is I started preserving on a larger scale for the savings but now, I can’t not preserve because of taste especially when my kids notice the difference.
Frozen berries can be used in many different ways, smoothies, frozen fruit pops, cocktails, muffins, pancakes, crumble, coulis, mousse, the list goes on and on. Having said this, there is a big difference in the texture of fresh berries and frozen berries, after defrosting the berries tend to become mushy.
For these Strawberry Cupcakes I used a combination of plain flour and cake flour because I wanted a tenderer crumb; they’re moist and light and the in-season berries provided a sweet strawberry flavour. I adore the flavour combination of strawberry and vanilla so I added a touch more vanilla in the cupcake batter and added vanilla seeds for an extra kick of vanilla flavour to the Strawberry Meringue Buttercream frosting.
I would’ve preferred to top the cupcakes with fresh berries but that wasn’t an option so I chose to decorate with sugar pearls and sprinkles instead.
My daughter, Liana, was the taste-tester and as she took her first bite (without frosting) I waited with bated breath for her reaction. A little side note, Liana loves strawberries, most berries really but she’s particularly picky (actually very picky) about the use of berries in sweet treats. I couldn’t believe it when she said, “You know what mom I didn’t think I was going to like these but they’re really good”. Yes! The reaction I was hoping for.
If you were planning to send treats to school for Valentine’s Day these Strawberry Cupcakes would be a flavourful alternative to regular vanilla or chocolate cupcakes. If your children have their heart set on chocolate cupcakes adding strawberry purée to the batter and topping with Strawberry Meringue Buttercream would also be a tasty option.
Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Meringue Buttercream
Makes 18 standard-sized cupcakes
- Strawberry Purée
- Strawberry Cupcakes
- Strawberry Meringue Buttercream
- 453 g (16 ounces) fresh or frozen strawberries, cut in quarters
- Bring strawberries to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set-aside to cool until room temperature.
- Transfer to blender jar, and process to purée.
- Press purée through fine mesh sieve into small bowl with flexible spatula, discard solids. To ensure a seed-free purée, rinse sieve and press the purée through the sieve for a second time.
- Reserve 180 ml (¾ cup) for the cupcake batter. Transfer the remainder to an airtight container, cover and refrigerate.
- Any leftover purée can be stored in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.
**Recipe Update: Please excuse my error, when I did the conversion from grams to cups for the cake flour I made an error. Initially I wrote 90 g (¾ cup) but I forgot to add the tablespoons, the proper conversion is ¾ cup + 2½ tablespoons. I’ve made the correction but I apologize to anyone who’s made the recipe using the cup measurements.
- 94 g (¾ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 90 g (¾ cup + 2½ tablespoons) cake flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 150 ml (½ cup + 2 tablespoons) whole milk, room temperature
- 180 ml (¾ cup) strawberry purée
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 113 g (½ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 197 g (¾ cup + 2 tablespoons) caster (superfine) sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- Preheat oven to 180° C (350° F). Line eighteen standard muffin cups with paper liners.
- Using fine mesh sieve, sift together plain flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl, whisk together until combined well.
- In large pourable container, stir together milk, strawberry purée and vanilla.
- In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Add the eggs one at-a-time, beating at medium speed and beating until combined well after each addition.
- Reduce mixer to speed to low, add the flour mixture in two additions alternating with the milk mixture in one addition, begin and end with flour mixture, scraping down sides, bottom of bowl and attachment as needed.
- Remove bowl from mixer and using large flexible spatula, clean sides of bowl and give the mixture one last stir.
- Using retractable ice cream scoop, divide batter evenly among the prepared cups filling each cup no more than two-thirds full.
- Bake until golden and cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 22 minutes.
- Transfer tins to wire rack. Let stand in the tins to cool, 5 minutes. Carefully remove cupcakes and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Strawberry Meringue Buttercream
- 454 g (1 pound) unsalted butter, cold
- 150 g (5 large) egg whites, room temperature
- 338 g (1½ cups) caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 120 ml (½ cup) strawberry purée, cool not cold
- Pink or red food colouring, optional
- Remove cold butter from refrigerator and cut into 1 cm (½-inch) cubes, return to the refrigerator to chill.
- In bowl of stand mixer, whisk together egg whites and sugar until combined well.
- Cook mixture, whisking constantly, over a saucepan of just simmering water (make sure bottom of bowl is not touching the water) until sugar is dissolved, reaches a temperature of 70° C (160° F) and mixture is milky white, about 3 minutes. To test for doneness, rub a small amount of mixture between your thumb and index finger; the mixture should feel smooth.
- Remove bowl from heat and attach to stand mixer fitted with whip (whisk) attachment. Beat the egg mixture starting on low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, until stiff, glossy peaks have formed and mixture is completely cool (touch bottom of bowl to feel temperature), 10 to 12 minutes.
- Meanwhile, remove butter from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature.
- Reduce mixer speed to medium-low. Add the butter, a few cubes at-a-time, beating well after each addition.
- Add the vanilla seeds and salt and beat at medium speed until vanilla beans are evenly distributed, about 1 minute.
- Replace whip attachment with paddle attachment. Beat the mixture on the lowest setting to eliminate any air pockets that may have formed, 5 minutes.
- Remove bowl from mixer. Using large flexible spatula, fold the purée, a couple of tablespoons at-a-time, into the frosting. (Please note if you prepared purée according to recipe above there should be enough leftover to add more if you choose. I recommend only adding a tablespoon at-a-time at this point to not affect the texture of the frosting.) If using food colouring, add tint, one-drop at-a-time, folding into mixture until desired colour is achieved.
Frosting and Decorating Cupcakes
- Sugar pearls or heart sprinkles, optional
- Transfer frosting to large pastry bag fitted with large decorative tip (Wilton 1M). Using bowl scraper push the frosting down into the cone, twist to seal the bag and squeeze the bag over the frosting bowl until there is a burst of air and frosting comes out of the bag.
- Hold the pastry tip about 1 cm (½-inch) above the surface of the cupcake at a 90° angle: pipe three spirals of frosting, without releasing pressure, and piping upwards, beginning and the outer edge and working towards the centre.
- Decorate with sugar pearls or sprinkles. (If recommend using tweezers to apply pearls.)
- Buon Appetito!
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