april 28, 2017
How do you decide which recipes to publish, Michele? Easy. Pick what’s in season and what looks good at the markets. Let me tell you my little secret, however – quite often the recipe is something I want to eat. Eat and share, of course. Today’s recipe for miniature strawberry cupcakes fits the bill on all three counts : local berries are in season, they are looking beautiful at the markets (and the aroma is intoxicating) and I really, really, really want to eat these. Not sure if the sharing aspect will get a workout this go round.
Cupcake shops have proliferated and on occasion I’ll indulge my serious sweet tooth by picking up one (okay, two) and devouring it on the ride home, crumbs be damned, but the jitters overtake me not long after the nirvana passes because the shop owners are so very generous with the creamy frosting. I’m not complaining, mind you, since I have been known to view cake as a mere vehicle for mounds of icing. All the nutrients are in the frosting, yes? Anyway, those are my thoughts as I write this recipe for cute little vehicles (mini Coopers?) of cinnamon scented fresh strawberry cake topped with generous dollops of fresh strawberry buttercream. Just the right amount of ecstasy without the hangover effect of the sugar high inevitable with the Mack trucks of full size cupcakes.
Here’s what I like about these cupcakes : quality is the same whether or not you make them gluten free, they freeze well and can be defrosted quickly for a sweet treat and the recipe makes 36! Here is your gift to the bake sale, the picnic, the office gathering, the neighborhood deck party now that the weather is gloriously pleasant, the kids birthday party. Need a quick and homemade recipe for that affirmative when you ask if there is something you can contribute to the gathering? Here it is. If they make it to the party.
Mini Strawberry Cupcakes
makes three dozen mini cupcakes, or one dozen full size cupcakes
1 ½ cups flour : for gluten free, I like Bob’s Red Mill 1-for-1, which already has the perfect amount of xanthan gum (all purpose flour works well, too)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries, local if you can find
¾ cup cane sugar
¼ cup honey
½ cup neutral oil like canola or grapeseed
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large egg at room temperature
1 ½ sticks (12 tablespoons) room temperature unsalted butter
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries, pureed to yield about ½ cup
6 cups lightly packed powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place 36 mini cupcake liners in pans.
- Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in small bowl and set aside.
- In medium mixing bowl, whisk sugar, honey, oil and vanilla together – mixture will appear lumpy.
- Add egg and whisk until smooth.
- Sprinkle dry ingredients atop wet, then scatter finely chopped strawberries, then use spatula to combine all, until dry is just incorporated into wet (don’t overmix).
- Working quickly, use small spoon to divide batter among the mini cake liners.
- Bake 18-20 minutes or until tops no longer appear glossy and when touched, the tops lightly spring back (exact time will depend on depth of mini cake pans, your oven, etc – so check!).
- Remove mini cupcakes from pans and cool to room temperature.
- In large mixing bowl, beat butter with electric mixer until softened well.
- Add ¼ cup strawberry puree, mixing well, then 3 cups of powdered sugar, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add 1 tablespoon puree, mix, then another cup of powdered sugar, then alternate sugar and puree again until all sugar is added, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go; you will likely use all the puree, but if more liquid is needed, add a few drops water or milk until you have a soft yet firm buttercream (if too soft, you won’t be able to pipe shapes from the pastry bag).
- Choose a star or round tip, place in pastry bag (or cut a small diagonal hole in the corner of a heavy duty gallon freezer bag, insert tip and use this as your pastry bag) and pipe star or rosette shapes on each mini cupcake.
- They will keep well at room temperature in a cool spot up to two days, and in the fridge for up to one week; they freeze beautifully.
- baking powder loses leavening ability if batter sits, so as soon as you mix batter, work quickly to load up the mini muffin cups
- best way to puree strawberries for the buttercream is with a mini chop or the beaker attachment of an immersion blender (my favorite kitchen toy)
- the buttercream may be made ahead one day, loaded into the pastry bag, refrigerated, then allowed to come to room temperature before decorating