Friday, July 9, 2010

strawberry lemonade cupcakes: bite of freshness

Ok ok, so I know I posted something very similar a couple of months ago, but I just couldn't resist making these too. Strawberries and lemons are probably one of my favorite summer flavour combinations. The sweetness of the strawberries mixed with the tangy taste of the lemons is just so refreshing and delicious. And since there's a massive heat wave going on right now, I'll take anything that'll freshen me up!

It's been really tough to stay cool when you don't have air conditioning at home and at school in the lab with hot ovens right next to us. But I have to say that I am really enjoying what we've been doing in the lab lately. Cookies, cookies and more cookies! And our first intro to modern entremets! I can't wait to learn more delicious and classic recipes, but I am definitely looking forward to summer break too. Hopefully I'll get to bake all sorts of things I've been itching to make. Or at least manage to go to the beach at least once!

This post is featured in the top 7 at Six Sister's Stuff: Fresh Food Friday: Strawberries
and in the top 6 at Cupcake Apothecary: A themed baker's Sunday

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Adapted from Annie's Eats

Yield: about 18-20 cupcakes


For the cupcakes:
3/4 cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. lemon zest
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
For the lemonade syrup:
3/4 cup lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
(You can add more of less sugar depending on the level of sweetness you want. I wanted mine to have more of a lemon taste so I put more lemonade.)

For the frosting:

1/4 cup strawberry puree (depending on how strong a flavour you want)
8 oz. (250g) package cream cheese, softened
1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vanilla


For the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350o F (the original recipe said 325oF but part of my batch didn’t rise properly and did all sorts of weird bubbly things). Line muffin pans with paper liners or grease. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the lemon zest. Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Add in the milk and mix until smooth. Add in the remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed until just blended. Do not overmix. (If you want to add chunks of strawberries, now would be the time to fold them in).
Divide the batter evenly between the paper liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the lemonade syrup:

Once the cupcakes have cooled, whisk together the lemonade and icing sugar in a small bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Poke several holes in the top of each cupcake with a toothpick and pour the syrup over the cupcakes, allowing it to soak in. (If you don’t want to waste your syrup on the counter top, simply hold the cupcake and pour the syrup over the bowl so the syrup drips back in it to reuse).

For the frosting:

Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender and strain through a mesh sieve into a bowl. You’re going to have to use a rubber spatula or rubber pastry brush to mix the puree and push down otherwise the liquid won’t go through since it’s so thick. Keep going until there are only seeds left (have patience – do a little bit at a time!). Cream the butter and cream cheese in an electric mixer with the paddle on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, then the lemon juice, vanilla and strawberry puree. If you find that you want more strawberries, just make some more puree and add it to the frosting.

Decorate the cupcake with the frosting (I used my new Ateco 846 tip) and garnish with fresh strawberries and a slice of lemon!

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