This past week, Daren and I were lucky enough to spend the week with friends in the Outer Banks, NC. This is our second year making this trip, and I know we’re all excited to have it become a yearly tradition. With a group of 13, we rented a huge house right on the water and spent our days relaxing and enjoying each others’ company. Unfortunately, this year we didn’t have the best weather; another friend and I both work in schools, so we have to go based on when spring break falls. With such an early spring break this year, it was still pretty cold out and extremely windy. That didn’t stop us from at least attempting to get some beach time in – and hitting the hot tub when we couldn’t take the cold any longer! Amber got to enjoy the company of her friends Sadie and Kaia as well; we’re very fortunate that the 3 of them get along so well. At least, when Amber isn’t trying to referee Sadie and Kaia’s playtime… I can only imagine how many times she woke someone up with her barking at them.
Now I certainly couldn’t let a group gathering go by without making SOMETHING, so I brought a couple batches of cupcakes down with me. (Last year I tried to bring my stand mixer down with me, but Daren has this thing about heavy/unnecessary items negatively affecting your gas mileage so that got vetoed real quick.) The first were these strawberry cupcakes, which are made with all fresh fruit and a Swiss meringue buttercream. Swiss meringue is a little more complex and a little more time-consuming than American buttercream, but to me the flavor is totally worth it. It’s less sweet than American buttercream, and has more of a buttery flavor; while some people prefer the sweetness of the American-style, Swiss meringue is easily Daren and my favorite. And apparently it tastes even better when you add strawberry puree to it – to me it tasted a lot like strawberry ice cream! I think Swiss meringue is worth trying at least once; however, if you know you prefer American, I think you could probably take this whipped vanilla frosting and add the strawberry puree to that. I would add the puree slowly, until the frosting reaches the desired flavor/consistency; I can’t guarantee that will work though since I haven’t tried it.
Overall these cupcakes were a huge hit, as were the coconut ones I’ll be sharing with you later!
For the cupcakes:
- 2¼ cups (9 ½ oz.) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (2 oz.) cake flour
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2¼ cups (15 ¾ oz.) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs plus 1 large egg white
- 1 cup milk
- 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 2½ cups finely chopped fresh strawberries
For the frosting:
- 1½ cups (8 oz.) fresh strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
- 4 large egg whites
- 1¼ cups (8 ¾ oz.) granulated sugar
- 3 sticks (1½ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs and egg white one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine the milk and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions alternating with the milk, mixing each addition just until incorporated. Gently fold in the chopped strawberries with a rubber spatula.
Divide the batter between the paper liners, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake until light golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-22 minutes. Allow to cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter and fresh liners.
To make the frosting, place the strawberries in a food processor or blender. Puree until completely smooth. Clean the bowl of your stand mixer and the whisk attachment thoroughly, and lightly wipe them down with white vinegar or lemon juice. Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water (I do this right in the clean bowl of the stand mixer). Heat, whisking frequently (constantly as the temperature gets higher), until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat immediately when it comes to temperature. If not heating in the stand mixer bowl, transfer the mixture to the bowl and fit the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until thick and smooth again. The mixture may become soupy or curdled; just continue to beat and it WILL eventually come together. Blend in the strawberry puree until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Continue to beat on medium-high 3-5 more minutes, until light and fluffy.
Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.
Yield: About 30 cupcakes