Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
OK, I promised I'd share my favorite cupcake recipe from our backyard concert a couple weeks ago. (It was so fun. Seriously.) And although I'm loyal to chocolate 99.9% of the time, this one turned out to be my favorite. Maybe it's because this cupcake has been a labor of love. It's time consuming. Let's just throw that out there. This is not a cupcake to make for the birthday party you forgot you were throwing and just realized guests will be on your doorstep in 30 minutes. But when you DO make them I can assure you it's worth the effort. I found this recipe online, and while the original was very good, I wanted more strawberry flavor. So with some random tweaks this was born:
These are the star players:
The recipe starts like any cupcake recipe--cream the butter, the sugar, the eggs, and the lemon zest.
Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk, add the vanilla, then scoop them into the liners.
At this point it gets different. I had pureed some strawberries before so I added about a teaspoon of puree to each cupcake.
Then used a wooden skewer to give 'em a little swirl.
After they baked, I poked some holes in each cupcake and poured a yummy lemonade syrup/glaze over the top.
You could eat them at this point, and probably be perfectly happy. But then there's the frosting. That's really where the strawberry flavor comes in.
Butter, a little bit of cream cheese (for texture and tang), powdered sugar...and a secret weapon.
You can ground these strawberries up to make a powder.
I add a couple tablespoons of this powder, a tablespoon or two of the already-pureed fresh strawberries, and a TINY splash of strawberry extract...strawberry heaven.
Pipe it on and top with a strawberry and that's it! Stand back and feel like a fancy cupcake chef.
They are the perfect summer treat--in fact, this very batch will be part of an intense lemonade stand menu. (Because I'm Holiday Mom, remember?) Wanna try them? Here's the recipe.
Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes (Adapted from Bites of Sweetness)
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter 2 Tbsp. softened cream cheese 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar 2 Tbsp. ground freeze-dried strawberries 1-2 Tbsp. fresh strawberry puree Splash of Strawberry Extract (optional, but recommended!)
For the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pans with paper liners or grease. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the lemon zest. Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Add in the milk and mix until smooth. Add in the remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed until just blended. Add vanilla and mix just until incorporated.
Divide the batter evenly between the paper liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Spoon in 1 tsp of strawberry puree into each cupcake, swirl with toothpick or skewer. Bake about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
For the lemonade syrup:
While the cupcakes are baking, whisk together the lemonade, powdered sugar and water in a small bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Once the cupcakes have cooled slightly, poke several holes in the top of each cupcake with a toothpick and pour the syrup over the cupcakes, allowing it to soak in. (I like to do this while the cupcakes are still warm.)
NOTE: At this point the cupcakes can be frozen. Let them thaw at room temperature when you're ready to frost them.
For the frosting:
Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add ground strawberries and mix until combined. Slowly add powdered sugar and strawberry puree. Splash in strawberry extract and mix until incorporated.
Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and garnish with a strawberry and small wedge of lemon.