There's something about eating cupcakes that provides an instant mood boost. And when made with fresh, in-season strawberries, they're pure heaven for your taste buds.
Despite the hot temperatures this weekend, I was in the mood to bake and decided it was the perfect time to try a recipe I dreamed up at work a few days ago. Strawberry shortcake cupcakes combine a vanilla cake with fresh strawberry filling, topped with vanilla buttercream spiked with more strawberries.
I'll admit, I cheated a bit with this recipe and used a box cake mix to reduce time in the kitchen. I think the result was still pretty delicious, but if you're so inclined, make the cake portion from scratch.
Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
1 box vanilla cake mix
1 12oz can lemon lime soda (I use Hansen's diet)
1 container strawberries (if possible, use organic)
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Combine cake mix with soda (I know this sounds weird, but I promise you won't taste the soda) and stir until well combined. Divide batter into a lined cupcake pan (fill each cup about 3/4) and bake according to cake mix directions. When done baking, allow to fully cool on a wire rack.
While cupcakes are baking, wash and remove the stems from the strawberries, then puree in a food processor. After cupcakes have cooled, use a cupcake corer to create a small space to add the pureed strawberries. I use this model from William Sonoma. If you do not have a cupcake corer, use a small paring knife and carefully cut a tiny amount from the top of each cupcake. After cupcakes are cored, fill with strawberry puree.
Now it's time for the icing on the cake. Beat room temperature butter and vanilla with confectioners sugar, adding a half cup at a time until combined. Then mix in 2 Tbsp strawberry puree. Add frosting to each cupcake (in my opinion, the more the better) and finish each one off with a swirl flourish! Store finished cupcakes in the refrigerator.
As for the leftover strawberry puree - freeze it in an ice cube tray to use in cocktails. For example, add a cube or two to a lowball glass and top with prosecco.
OR, add freshly chopped mint to the puree and freeze in popsicle molds for a refreshing treat on a hot summer day.
What's your favorite way to use summer strawberries?