Wednesday, May 25
When I was little, and between bouts of frustration over the realization that one could not actually bake in an Easy Bake oven ( despite several failed attempts ), I used to have imaginary parties with my Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Occasionally She-Ra would join in, but only if that fickle Blueberry Muffin was off somewhere riding My Little Pony. They were not what I would call 'Tea' parties, because A: I was a tomboy girly girl, and B: I never was crazy about tea. Preferably I would have loved to call them soda parties, but since soda was taboo in the green-stuff stuffed fridge, I settled for...wait for it, H20. It was a sad excuse for a party, I was hoping my parents would realize this, break down, and by me a bottle of root beer and a box of Ho Hos. But they sat around the mini table and pretended to enjoy their water and non-existent cake. Cold, cold hearted they were. :-p
During those parties, I always imagined serving little delights like these cupcakes, which just ooze with whimsical memories of childhood. They're also bursting with strawberry flavour and all the lightness and joy that comes with it. Since I have a thing for texture (and by thing, I mean an obsession), I used ground granulated sugar for the frosting (see recipe), which gave it a pleasant crunchiness that popped out intermittently between the ripples of strawberry. The cupcakes themselves are soft, and moist, and naturally pink! If a little girls' Easy Bake oven could bake, this is what it'd make.
Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcake (adapted from Martha Stewart)
2/3 cup of fresh strawberries (cleaned, dry)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon of pure almond extract
1/2 cup (that's 1 stick) of unsalted butter ,at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg , at room temperature
2 large egg whites , at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
Place strawberries in a small food processor; process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree. Add a few more strawberries if necessary, or save any extra puree for frosting; set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt, whisk together and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla and strawberry puree; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes.) Slowly add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before frosting. [Note: My muffins were ready after only 18 minutes, so keep a close watch on them at that point.]
1/2 cup whole strawberries (cleaned and dry with stems removed)
1 cup ( that's 2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm (let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted [Note: I used granulated sugar and ran it through the food processor for a few minutes. This gave the frosting a slight crunch that I found irresistible.]
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
Place the strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until pureed.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes.) Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined.
Add the almond extract and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree mix until just blended [Note: I used 5 Tablespoons.].
Make sure that you don't over-mix, or frosting will incorporate too much air. It should have a dense, creamy ice-cream like consistency.
Makes 12 Cupcakes