I would like to dedicate this post to my lovely little sister Melanie, first and foremost. She has been my first mate in my ship of life (as cliched as that might sound). We’ve always been inseparable. Yes, I know, she is a little sister and yes she does get on my nerves more than I would like, but regardless, I am happy and proud to announce that we have never gotten into a real fight before. Beat that! And, as a matter of fact, my sissy’s 12th birthday is this coming Wednesday and we decided to celebrate for her today. It was a relatively low-key celebration, but it gave me the perfect opportunity to go crazy about baking! As you might find I normally do…
I started brainstorming for her birthday about a month ago. My eyes fluttered through recipe indexes of, oh I don’t know, 20 blogs, keeping mental records of the most delicious and girly/cute recipes I saw. Cheesecake and chocolate were my most frequently checked, but surprisingly, the victor of this mind game of mine was something that I had never even heard of before seeing it: strawberry lemonade cupcakes.
Something about the simplicity of the recipe (like how it doesn’t need buttermilk, which I’m too lazy to go out to buy) created instant attraction. Moreover, something about the cupcakes and the idea of strawberry and lemon zest together in one was most definitely not a simple marriage of convenience but a bond of true love. Sort of like those scenes in movies where the camera suddenly zooms in on a person’s face and the whole screen blurs to symbolize a flashback, that’s what I felt upon seeing it. My mind reached back into the depths of my memories and I heard the refreshing tinkling of ice cubes in a cold glass of strawberry lemonade as I sat bathing in the cool shade of my patio with the season’s hottest sunglasses nestled on my nose.
BOOM! That was it. It’s funny how a simple memory triggers things right? Well, I instantly printed the recipe out and slammed it on my mother’s desk saying “This is it!” Strawberry lemonade cupcakes, huh Natalie? We’ll see about that…
Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes (Adapted from Annie’s Eats)
Yield: about 19 cupcakes
For the cake:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
3 tsp. lemon zest
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup milk
2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Stir together with a fork and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until it is light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until well combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. 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. Fold in the fresh strawberries with a spatula.
Divide the batter evenly between the paper liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake about 25 to 30 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.
And, what’s a cupcake without frosting? Unfortunately the recipe from the site cited above needed lemon juice and an extra 4 oz. of cream cheese I did not have. But I still managed (cleverly -ahem-) to find another recipe for strawberry cream cheese frosting.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting (Adapted from Ezra Pound Cake)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup strawberry puree
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Freshly sliced strawberries, for garnish, optional
In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree and the vanilla extract. (Simply put 1/4 cup of strawberries into your blender and press “puree”) Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth.
Now the fun part…Putting it together!
These cupcakes were blissful. The strawberry had melted inside to become soft and blended so well with the cupcake. The frosting was absolutely delicious (with a lot of leftovers ;)). And, oh! Happy birthday Melanie. Hope you enjoyed munching on the cupcake(s) as much as I enjoyed making them. Love you.