Strawberry Cupcakes - Five Ways
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Why I Love This Recipe
I've always wanted to do a fancy petit fours (or in this case fives) kinda' dessert or appetizer. It just seems so swanky and chic. Penelope came over to spend the day with me so we could catch up and just be bitches, and I wanted to involve her in this project. It was fun, exotic, and just in time for Valentine's Day!
The cupcake was odd; it was fruity but didn't resound of strawberry. It was a quandary, too hard to describe, but it was good none the less. Plus it came out an odd grey-purple color. The frosting luckily resounded of strawberry and really backed up that pink color. The cupcake tasted of strawberries. Ah but lets move on to the flavors...
Balsamic and Black Pepper Reduction
This was the favorite by far. The idea came to me as during summer, Rob and I do the Italian thing and macerate our strawberries in balsamic vinegar and pepper. We made this into a reduction and drizzled it on the cupcake. Pow! Zing! Pop! The reduction develops a surprisingly slight, lemony pizazz that pleasantly contradicts the strawberry flavors. It dazzled the senses.
This was the flavor we were really eager to try and at the same time understandably weary. Strawberries and cilantro actually share many of the same flavor compounds, thus they compliment each other nicely. The cupcake is sweet, but the single peppery leaf whispers in the back on the mouth and creates a nice finish.
Chocolate & Pink Salt
We at first used only a dark 60% cacao chocolate and that was pleasing. Chocolate and strawberries. Pink and black. It's classic. The addition of pink salt elevated this to a new platform of flavor; it enriched the chocolate to new heights.
Himalayan Pink Salt
Salt naturally enhances flavor, and it does no different here. It accented the strawberry flavors, ans the salt went wonderfully with the sweet. It's was definitely the wild card of the plate.
Orange & Cointreau
Orange oils and the orange liqueur mixed into a syrup created a fruity, cavity inducingly rich, and viscous lushness to the cupcake. Orange and strawberry go well together in strawberries romanoff so we knew the royal flavors this conveyed would give it presence amongst the other cupcakes with more bite.
Ingredients You'll Need
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup strawberry sauce (see below)
1/4 cup milk
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces or 1 package of cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
approximately 1/4 cup of strawberry sauce
2 cups of fresh strawberries, cut in half and stem removed sugar to taste
Orange Cointreau Syrup:
1/2 cup of Cointreau
4 good strips of orange zest
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
Chocolate, Salt, and Cilantro:
a leaf or two of cilantro
Strawberry Cupcakes - What You'll Do...
Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Measure out milk and strawberry sauce together. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine. Add about one third the milk/strawberry sauce mixture and beat until combined. Repeat above, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture.
Scoop into cupcake papers about half to three-quarters full (depending on whether you want flat or domed cupcakes). Bake for 20-22 minutes at 350F until a cake tester comes out clean. If using a mini cupcake tin, bake for 8-10 minutes and use Pam For Baking to grease the pan. Scoop into slots until three-quarters full.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting - What You'll Do:
Bring cheese and butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl.
Beat butter and cheese at medium speed until creamy. Add half of the sugar, beat until combined. Add strawberry sauce until you achieve the right color and flavor, making sure not to add too much or the frosting will be too soft. Gradually add remaining sugar (more if you have to) until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like.
Strawberry Sauce - What You'll Do...
Macerate strawberries with about 1-2 tbs sugar for 15 minutes.
Put strawberries in a small saucepan and heat under medium heat with lid on. Cook strawberries for approximately 15 minutes till strawberries cook down and become soft and saucy. Adjust sweetness with sugar until you get the desired sweetness.
Using a hand blender, puree until you get the desired smoothness or chunkiness. Cool before using in recipe.
Orange Cointreau Syrup - What You'll Do...
Combine all over medium heat until bubbling and all sugar has dissolved. Turn heat to low and let bubble for 5-8 minutes. Let cool, it should be a thick syrup. Drizzle on cupcake.
Balsamic Reduction: Take a 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar and a few grinds of black pepper and let come to a boil at high heat. Reduce to low and let reduce for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Drizzle on cupcake.
Chocolate, Salt, and Cilantro: Sprinkle on the salt. Place a leaf or two of cilantro on the cupcake. Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler and drizzle on cupcake.