I like pregnant women because I tend to eat like one, and anyone who can keep pace with my appetite gets a thumbs-up. I also like pregnant women because they like to eat everything and I like to feed people everything. Win-win.
My editor and good friend, Laura, is awesome at what she calls “making humans,” and is about to pop another one in a week or so. Perfect time to feed her cupcakes, take her out to lunch, then send her on her way to out-of-the-office bliss.
Shana, Laura, Denny
Since it’s spring and I’m still drooling over the ripe strawberries on parade at the moment, Laura [and the office] received some strawberry lemon cupcakes with some decorations-gone-wild, courtesy of the Container Store [click here for the set] and Crate & Barrel [click here for the pinwheels].
The cupcakes are made with fresh strawberry purée-the trick is to draw out the sweetness of the berry by letting the purée sit overnight in the fridge. This way, the sugars release and you get a sweet cupcake without all the artificial flavoring. The strawberry and lemon frostings are made with cream cheese and mascarpone cheese, giving the frosting enough body and silk without needing too much confectioner’s sugar…plus, it just tastes damn good.
Happy baby producing, Lady Laura. May your son be as enthusiastic about baked goods as you are 😉
[Recipe for the cupcakes adapted from The Cooking Photographer] [Makes 12 cupcakes]
*Note: You will need to make the purée for the cupcakes the night before [ideally].
- Blender or food processor
- Stand mixer or hand mixer
- Fine sieve
- Zester or grater
- 2/3 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberry purée [about 1 quart of fresh strawberries]
- 1/2 cup [1 stick] unsalted butter, very soft
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp. almond extract
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- Few drops of pink food coloring [optional]
- 4 oz. cream cheese, rm. temp.
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, rm. temp.
- Pinch of salt
- 2 1/2 cups SIFTED confectioner’s sugar
- 1/3 cup seedless strawberry jam
- 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
- Few drops pink food coloring [optional]
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup SIFTED confectioner’s sugar
- 8 oz. cream cheese, rm. temp.
- 6 oz. mascarpone cheese, rm. temp.
- 1 Tbl. lemon juice
- Zest of one large lemon
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- Few drops yellow food coloring [optional]
Cupcakes: Gather enough strawberries to make the purée [almost an entire quart of strawberries]. Blend/process the berries until smooth and press through a fine sieve, to remove all seeds, into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with liners. In a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and salt until well-mixed. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract and beat until well-mixed. Add the buttermilk and strawberry purée and beat until mixed. Add the cornstarch and baking powder and mix to incorporate. Then add the flour and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Beat in food coloring.
Fill liners evenly with all of the batter. Bake for 25-30 min. or until toothpick comes out dry. Cool completely before frosting.
Strawberry frosting: Using a stand or hand mixer on medium-high speed, beat together cream cheese, butter, and salt in a large bowl until creamy. With mixer on low speed, beat in confectioner’s sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in strawberry jam and lemon zest. Beat in food coloring.
Lemon frosting: Pour the granulated sugar into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the zest of the lemon. Beat until sugar is tinged yellow and smells very lemony [2-3 min]. Add cream cheese and mascarpone. Beat until smooth. Add lemon juice and confectioner’s sugar. Beat until smooth. Add vanilla and beat. Beat in food coloring.
To assemble: Using a piping bag or ziplock with a slit cut in the top, pipe a round of strawberry frosting onto the cupcake. Using the same method, pipe a round of lemon frosting on top of the strawberry frosting.
Keep refrigerated until ready to eat. Keeps, covered and chilled, about 5 days.