It's amazing the power our senses have to deeply imbed memories without asking permission to steal these moments. The smells and tastes of a meal can stick with you forever, even in small hints and notes, and force you back to a different time. A time of celebration upon a first taste of a vanilla custard reminiscent of that filling in your childhood birthday cake, a time of sadness with a blackberry jelly filled doughnut at a funeral brunch, a spicy heat distinctive to only the salsa enjoyed on the beaches of Mexico. Some things just don't leave you--even if you barely remember them being there in the first place.
Most bring up positive, happy memories--others have just marked moments in time. The cupcakes mark a time of big girl panties, of rolling with the punches, of DOING today instead of waiting until tomorrow, of carpe diem.
...That was all a little deep. Let's get real. At the end of the day they are CUPCAKES and no day with cupcakes is a bad one. It's impossible. You try it. You have a bad day when you're eating a cupcake. You have a bad memory involving a delicious, fresh, homemade with love cupcake. It's impossible.
These strawberry cupcakes are moist and fresh and delicious---and will store the flavors of fresh strawberries deep in your palate that will bring to the surface a time of celebration, a time of progress forward. I made mine Mickey/Minnie Mouse themed for a friend and they were a huge hit with everyone. They'd be perfect for a birthday party, a summer bbq or as always here at Dressing on the Side---a midweek slump that needs a little extra lovin'
Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Butter-cream frosting
adapted from Martha Stewart (this makes about 30 cupcakes, I halved the recipe and made 12 standard cupcakes plus 8 mini cupcakes--for quality control tasting...duh)
1 3/4 C sugar
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter softened at room temperature.
3 C whole wheat flour (or regular all-purpose)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 C milk10 oz fresh strawberries, small dice
dark chocolate rounds
In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a mixer with paddle attachment combine the butter and sugar until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time until combined, then add in the vanilla. On the low setting of the mixer add the flour mixture by thirds, alternating with the milk. (It should go 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 milk, 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 milk, 1/3 flour mixture). Then fold in the strawberries. Fill your cupcake liners 2/3-3/4 full (I usually use a 1/4 cup as a guide). For this occasion being Disney themed, I used a red cupcake liner with white polka dots---(a little Mickey/Minnie ode).
For the icing (***okay, so this as a plain vanilla recipe is amazing, with the addition of fresh strawberries it became a little runny--so for next time I'd include an extra 1/4 C butter and an extra 1/2 C sugar--the extra sugar works for these cupcakes because the slight tartness of the strawberries creates a balance)
1 1/4 C butter softened at room temperature
2 1/2 - 3 C powdered sugar (start with 2 and increase by 1/4 cups as you incorporate other ingredients including strawberries)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
~7 medium strawberries finely diced.
In a stand mixer whip the butter for about 2-3 minutes. By 1/4 cups add the powdered sugar until 2 cups are combined. Add the vanilla and whip another minute. Add in the strawberries and whip on setting 2-4 for about a minute/2 (I liked that the strawberries broke up even more and made the icing pink) Check the consistency and add the last of the powdered sugar by 1/4 cups. Stop when you've reach desired
consistency (so it might take anywhere from 2-3 cups of the sugar). My icing was a little runny but it spread across the cupcakes wonderfully and some of the strawberry juice soaked into the cupcakes over night. You could also refrigerate the icing before piping for a stiffer icing to be served immediately.
When the cupcakes are completely cooled pipe on the icing and add 2 chocolate rounds as 3D Mickey/Minnie ears or add 3 chocolate rounds as a 2D Minnie/Mickey silhouette.
These cakes (more importantly their frosting) deserve a second go-round in my kitchen). They deserve to be perfect--but for now they're a delicious work in progress.