Thursday, July 5, 2012

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercram

Strawberry cupcakes

I've been meaning to post this for a while now. Strawberry season has come and gone here in CT - we're moving onto blueberries, raspberries and peaches, oh my! I certainly had my fun with strawberries though. Strawberry-rhubarb pie, strawberry-rhubarb vanilla bean jam, strawberry balsamic black pepper jam, strawberry lemonade, and of course, these sweet little strawberry cupcakes!

Pink isn't normally my thing, but these cupcakes were just so damn cute with their pretty pink frosting and little strawberries on top. The cupcake itself is a light, not too sweet vanilla based cupcake scented with strawberry. The buttercream is what packs the punch of strawberry flavor. Luckily, swiss meringue buttercream is light, airy and not sickeningly sweet, so don't be timid about piping on a generous portion atop each cupcake!

I used the strawberry-rhubarb jam I had canned a few days before, but you can use any high quality strawberry jam or preserve you have. Jam is a great way to flavor frosting so definitely play around with this recipe using different flavors throughout the year!   

Strawberry cupcakes
Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(cupcake recipe adapted from Sprinkles' Cupcakes)

Strawberry Cupcakes
Makes 1 dozen

1 1/3 cup strawberries, pureed in a food processor or blender
1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup room temp whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temp
2 large egg whites, room temp

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12 cup muffin tray with cupcake liners and set aside. Place strawberry puree in a medium heavy bottomed skillet and cook over medium heat until it has reduced by about half. Set aside and cool.

2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl mix together milk, vanilla and reduced strawberry puree. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium high speed until light and creamy. Add the sugar and continue to beat until very well combined and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the egg and egg white just until combined.

4. Set the mixer on low and slowly add half the flour mixture, mixing until just moistened. Add the milk mixture and mix until just blended. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until homogenous, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

5. Divide batter evenly among the muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with just a couple crumbs. Allow cupcakes to cool completely in the tin before frosting.

Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes 3 1/2 cups (you will have extra)

5 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 stick (1 lb) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon chunks and at room temp
seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup strawberry jam or preserves
1/4 tsp salt

1. Combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixture and set over simmering water. Heat mixture to 160F while whisking almost constantly.

2. Transfer hot mixture to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the vanilla bean seeds and salt, and beat on high speed until mixture doubles in volume, has stiff peaks and has cooled. This will take about 10-12 minutes.

3. Add the butter one piece at a time, mixing until completely incorporated after each addition. The mixture may begin to look lumpy, curdled, soupy or some other kind of awful, but don't worry! Just keep beating that sucker and it will come together into light, fluffy frosting. Once the buttercream is smooth and fluffy, add the  jam and mix until combined. Now you're ready to frost your cupcakes!

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