Monday, April 18, 2011

Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcakes

Cupcakes had me down. They are so pretty. Maybe too pretty for their own good. The taste wasn't living up to its looks. So many of my batches were so-so. I even had a conversation with a friend that, perhaps, cupcakes are overrated.

I set out to do some research, and hopefully, prove myself wrong.

These tips really helped me, they come straight from Candace Nelson of Sprinkles Bakery.
  • Temperature is key - All ingredients should be at room temperature before you begin, otherwise, the ingredients can become lumpy when combined, which encourages overmixing (not good).
  • Don't overmix - Stir ingredients together until just combined. Overmixing leads to dense cakes, rather than light and fluffy.
  • Use the best ingredients - The quality of ingredients really does make a difference. In this recipe, use organic strawberries. Reviews reported that normal strawberries made it hard to taste their flavor.
Ok, now to the good stuff.

My final tip: find a fantastic recipe. This Sprinkles recipe won me over. The cake is light, fluffy and has a nice flavor. I added lemon zest thanks to another blogger who suggested it. The frosting? Well, it's basically like biting into a strawberry ice cream cone.


Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcakes
2/3 cup whole fresh organic strawberries
zest of 1 lemon, grated (my addition)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (4 oz)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature
Sprinkles' Strawberry Frosting (below)

   1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
   2. 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.
   3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, lemon zest, and strawberry puree; set aside.
   4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually 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.
   5. 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.
   6. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 17 - 19 minutes. Cool completely.

Sprinkles Strawberry Frosting (I halved this and it lightly frosted 12 cupcakes)
3/4 cup whole fresh strawberries
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
Pinch of coarse salt
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
zest of a whole lemon, grated (my addition)

   1. Place 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. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined. Add vanilla, lemon zest and 5-6 tablespoons strawberry puree (taste the frosting, add more or less strawberry puree according to your liking); mix until just blended. Do not overmix or frosting will incorporate too much air. Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.

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