Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Meringue Buttercream

Happy 4th of July! I hope you have a fun day planned with lots of food, fireworks and fun with friends and family. If you’re looking for a last-minute dessert for today and have some strawberries in the fridge, these cupcakes are it. I honestly had never given strawberry cupcakes a thought up until a couple of years ago. My Chief Culinary Consultant and I ventured into Georgetown for an afternoon of cupcake hopping. After waiting in an insanely long line during one of the hottest days of the summer in D.C. for some Georgetown Cupcakes, we went off the beaten path and made our way to Baked and Wired. I chose a red velvet cupcake while my CCC went for the strawberry cupcake, which was noted as the bestseller on the menu. My red velvet was fabulous, but after one bite of his strawberry, I immediately regretted my decision. It was fabulous – a yellow cake with fresh strawberries in the batter and topped with beautiful pink buttercream. It’s taken me a couple of years, but I’ve finely baked up my own version and amped up with strawberry quotient even more!

My Chief Culinary Consultant proclaimed that this is the best cupcake I have ever made. That’s saying quite a bit, considering that the likes of chocolate salted caramel cupcakes, chocolate & peanut butter cupcakes, margarita cupcakes, pb&j cupcakes and many, many more have graced my kitchen. So what makes this cupcake so amazing? Two very important elements: An incredibly moist and light cake that’s loaded with tons of chopped fresh strawberries, and a strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream that is absolutely to die for.

I’ve seen Swiss meringue buttercream in many cookbooks and on tons of other blogs, but this was my very first time making it. To be perfectly honest, it always just seemed like a lot more work than was necessary for frosting. You can now consider me a total convert. This Swiss meringue buttercream is fluffy, has a light-as-air texture, isn’t overly sweet and completely melts in your mouth. The addition of pureed fresh strawberries makes it the perfect complement to the strawberry-studded cake beneath.

This recipe comes from the book Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, which I love, but have one complaint about – the bizarre number of cupcakes that each recipe yields. Never one or two dozen, but usually larger quantities. This recipe will make 34 cupcakes, which is perfect if you’re making them for a crowd or taking them to a party. If you need to size the recipe down, know that one dozen cupcakes is about 35% of the total recipe below. My suggestion would be to utilize weight measurements to make sure that you scale down accurately. Alternately (and probably an easier option, in my opinion), you can make and freeze both the cupcakes and the frosting (separately) and then thaw as many as you need when you’re ready.

My guess, though? You’re going to want to make sure you have a full batch of these on hand, because once you eat one, you’re not going to be able to stop!

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Three year ago: Red, White and Blue Stained Glass Jello Stars
Four years ago: Classic White Bread

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Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Meringue Buttercream

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

2¾ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2¼ cups granulated sugar

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 egg white

1 cup whole milk

2 cups finely chopped fresh strawberries


For the Strawberry Meringue Buttercream:

1½ cups fresh strawberries (about 8 ounces), rinsed, hulled and coarsely chopped

4 egg whites

1¼ cups granulated sugar

1½ cups unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature


Directions:

1. Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.


2. Whisk together both flours, baking powder and salt; set aside.


3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and egg white, on at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour in two batches, alternating with the milk, and beating until well combined. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the chopped strawberries by hand.


4. Divide the batter evenly among the lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake until golden and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to pans to wire racks to cool for 15 minutes; turn out the cupcakes onto the rack and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored up to 1 day at room temperature in airtight containers before frosting.


5. Make the Strawberry Meringue Buttercream: Puree the strawberries in a food process or blender; set aside.


6. Combine the egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of a standing electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until the mixture is warm to the touch and the sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).


7. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, mix until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.


8. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all the butter has been added, scrap down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and switch to the paddle attachment; continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Add the strawberry puree and beat until combined. Stir the frosting with a rubber spatula until the frosting is smooth. Keep the buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.


9. Decorate the Cupcakes: Spread or pipe the buttercream onto each cupcake. Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, or refrigerate for up to 3 days.


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(Recipe source: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes)


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