Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

When I first saw these cupcakes, all I did was dream about them. I was dying to make them right there and then, but I had neither lemons nor strawberries nor time. A few days (or weeks) passed and I finally got around to making these. WOW. These were very lemony and very delicious. The other reviews I read said the cake had a light lemon flavor, but mine did not. They had a punch you in the face lemon flavor. Maybe it was the lemons. I bought some beautiful, juicy lemons at the store. The recipe called for the zest of three lemons and the juice of one and a half lemons. As I started to zest and juice, I quickly learned my lemons were very fragrant, large, and juicy, so I reduced the lemon zest to two lemons and the juice to one lemon. I still think the cake was very lemony and I could have cut down even more on the lemons.

The only problem with these cupcakes was they overpowered the fabulous, strawberry, I-can't-stop-eating it, swiss meringue buttercream. This icing was so light and delicious. These cupcakes would have been even better with a simple vanilla buttercream or even cream cheese icing—something heavier to better compliment the denser, flavorful cake. All in all both recipes were a winner, just not together. Now go and make these!

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride as adapted from Martha Stewart Living

3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (I omitted since I used salted butter.)
2 sticks butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons lemon zest (3 lemons) (I used 2.)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 and 1/2 lemons) (I used 1.)
1 teaspoon vanilla (I only used 1/2 teaspoon.)
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a muffin tin with 24 cupcake liners.

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at at time, mixing thoroughly. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beating on low, add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, and ending with the flour mixture

Fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 full. Bake for 18 - 24 minutes, rotating the pans at the halfway point (I forgot to do this and mine were fine). Cool completely before frosting.

Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
6 teaspoons meringue powder
6 tablespoons warm water
3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks butter, cut into 16 pieces (room temperature)
1/2 cup strawberry puree 

In a large heatproof bowl (or stand mixer bowl) combine meringue powder, water, and sugar. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and transfer to stand mixer.

Using the whisk attachment, whip mixture on high until it holds stiff peaks (about 6 - 7 minutes). Continue beating and add the butter a few pieces at a time. Add strawberry puree.

Continue beating until buttercream is thick, smooth, and glossy (about 3 - 5 minutes).*
*If mixture starts to look curdled, keep beating.

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