Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Meringue Buttercream
Since discovering the Cocoa Bean Cupcake Café I have had renewed enthusiasm in cupcakes—especially homemade ones. These cupcakes are great for spring and summer—when you can get fresh strawberries in season. The cupcakes are not too sweet, have a very tender texture, and taste great with the puffed cloud of silky strawberry buttercream on top. Alyssa made the buttercream herself, and she had lots of fun decorating the cupcakes. She did a fabulous job! If you store the leftover cupcakes in the fridge, be sure to bring them to room temperature before serving them so the icing will be nice and fluffy rather than hard.
2 ¾ cups (11 ¾ oz) all-purpose flour
½ cup (2 oz) cake flour (NOT self-rising)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks/4 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ¼ cups (15 ¾ oz) sugar
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large whole eggs plus 1 egg white (room temperature)
1 cup (8 oz) milk
2 cups (12 oz) finely chopped fresh strawberries, plus about 10 strawberries for garnish
Strawberry Meringue Buttercream (see recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, and salt.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter, sugar, and vanilla until pale and fluffy. Add whole eggs and the white, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the milk, and beating until well combined. Fold in chopped strawberries by hand.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 18 to 30 minutes (recipe states 25 to 30 minutes but I always check mine early). Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto rack and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored up to 1 day at room temperature in airtight containers.
To finish, fill a pastry bag fitted with a large open-star tip (Ateco #826 or Wilton #8b—I used Wilton #1M) with buttercream. Pipe buttercream onto each cupcake, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Just before serving, thinly slice remaining strawberries and tuck a few pieces into buttercream.
Yield: 34 cupcakes.
Strawberry Meringue Buttercream
1 ½ cups (8 oz) fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and coarsely chopped
4 large egg whites
1 ¼ cups (8 ¾ oz) sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks/12 oz) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
Puree strawberries in a food processor. Combine egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of a standing electric miser set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, mix until stiff (by not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes. I like to add some ice packs around the outside base of the mixing bowl to help lower the temperature more quickly during the beating process.
With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula and switch to the paddle attachment; continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Add strawberries and beat until combined. Stir with a flexible spatula until the frosting is smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.
Frosting recipe yields about 5 cups buttercream.
Recipe Source: Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes