February 9, 2014

Strawberry Cupcakes

So, Valentine's Day is a thing that's happening. Soonish, right?

I kid. I know when Valentine's Day is. Its the day before my birthday, and it's usually the reason I have to wait a week to celebrate because everybody else has gooey romantic plans.

I don't really get Valentine's Day, you know? Don't get me wrong, I love all the things that comes with it. Pink, sparkly things, stuffed monkeys that make kissy noises (pictured above), chocolate and cherries, cheesy cards with bad puns and even worse double entendres. But seriously, guys. Is it really romantic if you're being romantic on the one day of the year the calendar tells you to be romantic?
And ladies, let's be reasonable. Guys only do romantic on February 14th because we expect them to do romantic because the calendar says we should expect the romance. First of all, if the woman wants the romance, why is all the responsibility on the dude? Secondly, isn't it more romantic if it takes you by surprise? If he shows up with flowers, chocolate, and dinner reservations on February 14th, he can't really do more than exceed expectations. But if he does it on a random date, then its unexpected and special. Call me crazy, call me bitter, but I find the latter much more romantic of the two scenarios.
Look, I'm not saying Valentine's Day should be abolished or anything. I'm not even saying it shouldn't be celebrated, but I like it best when its corny, pink, and sparkly.

These cupcakes are not some huge romantic gesture. They are cute and pink, decorated with sugar pearls and conversation hearts. They are perfect for a quiet Valentine's Day evening at home, exchanging cheesy greeting cards, giggling over the bad innuendos, and getting pink glitter everywhere.
The cupcakes get their flavor from strawberry sauce and a dollop of strawberry jam baked into the middle, which means you don't have to worry about trying to find strawberries in the dead of winter. The cupcakes themselves are based off of my Cherry Chocolate Chip Cupcakes, the whipped egg whites and buttermilk giving them a light airiness. My taste tester practically licked the liner clean, and they hadn't even been frosted yet.

And if you're wondering why the cupcake is brown and not pink, it's because I had forgotten to add the food coloring. Strawberries don't actually turn things red in baking, not without a little help, and the strawberry sauce I was using was more of a reddish brown to begin with. But that is most definitely a strawberry cake, no matter what the color.
Strawberry Cupcakes
Yield: 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar, divided
⅔ cup strawberry sauce
 cup buttermilk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 ½ cups flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
4 egg whites
½ cup seedless strawberry jam

For the frosting:
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp. vegetable shortening
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp. strawberry sauce
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Small pinch of salt
Red food coloring (optional)

For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 muffin tins with 24 paper liners. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and ½ cup sugar together at medium speed until fluffy. Add the vanilla.

Mix together the buttermilk and strawberry sauce and add about ¼ cup to the butter mixture. Beat until fully incorporated. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add about half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until just combined. Add the rest of the milk mixture, followed by the rest of the flour mixture. Beat until smooth.

In a separate bowl with clean beaters, whip the egg whites on high until they start to turn glossy. Gradually add in the remaining ½ cup of sugar, and continue to whip on high until soft peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold the egg whites into the prepared batter.

Add 1 tablespoon of batter to each muffin cup. Top with 1 teaspoon of strawberry jam and another tablespoon of batter. Bake 20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when gently pressed. Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting: using an electric mixer, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed. Gradually add in the sugar. Add the remaining ingredients, continuing to beat on medium until well incorporated. Increase the speed to high and whip until light and fluffy.

Recipe by Kim