A few days ago it was Valentine’s day and I’m NOT the type of girl that boycotts the day. But I AM the kind of girl that enjoys sharing sweet treats! And so, the night before V-day, I decided to bake cupcakes for my lab-mates.
Obviously, I wanted each little cake to showcase some of Valentine’s traditions: chocolate, pink, hearts. And the result was delicious! Also, I used fresh strawberries and the frosting had an amazing fruity taste!
Before you start make sure the butter is in room temperature. Preheat the oven at 190ºC (375ºF).
Begin by beating the butter until it’s soft. Add the sugar and continue beating until you get a nice fluffy mix. Remember to clean the sides of the bowl with the spatula while mixing. It is very important that your mix is finally composed by super-tiny butter pieces covered by the sugar. You absolutely should NOT have big pieces of butter here and there because they will never break down and your final mixture will not be homogeneous!
Then, add the eggs one by one, mixing in between. Continue beating the batter.
Now, put aside your hand mixer (or switch off your table mixer). You will not use it again for the cake preparation! You only need a whisk and a spatula.
Place your dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder – in a clean ball and whisk them together.
Prepare the milk and the vanilla.
It’s time for the final mix! In order to avoid over-beating the final cake batter, alternate dry and wet ingredients and mix with the spatula each time until just incorporated. For example, add ⅓ of the dry ingredients and mix, then add some milk and mix, and so on. Don’t forget to add the vanilla.
To bake the cakes I use the silicon forms. I find them very convenient, since the cake doesn’t stick on the bottom or the sides, and can be removed very easily. However, you can certainly use normal cupcake papers placed in a tin.
Fill in the cupcake container of choice HALF full! The cupcakes will rise, have no fear. Bake at 180ºC (356ºF) for 22-25min. Don’t open and close the oven at least for the first 15min. Do your first toothpick test at 22min. If the toothpick comes out clean then they are ready. If it still has batter on it, then continue baking. Test every 2-3min from now on until you get a clean toothpick.
When you are done with the cupcakes, or in the meantime, start preparing the frosting. Add as many strawberries as you think are necessary (you’ll need 3 tablespoons for the frosting) in the small food processor and puree them.
Beat the butter and the pinch of salt until it’s soft. Add the powdered sugar and continue beating. Add the vanilla and the 3 tablespoons of strawberry puree and mix only enough to blend them! Do not over-beat the frosting. It should be creamy. Also, fight the urge to add more than 3tbsp of strawberry puree!! Otherwise you might end up with runny frosting and it will not look nice on your cupcakes…
Store the frosting in the fridge. When the cupcakes have cooled down decorate them. If you don’t have the tool to pipe the frosting, then just use a spatula and cover them nice and pretty. If you are planning to sprinkle any decorations, as I did with the hearts, do it before the frosting cools or they will not stick on top of it!
And there you have it! Beautiful cupcakes to share with the people you love! You can store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for some days, but always allow them to return at room temperature before eating!
Have a nice day!
Makes 12-14 cupcakes
For the cake (original recipe from Cupcake)
115g butter at room temp
1½ cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
⅛ tsp salt
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup of milk
1 tsp vanilla
For the frosting (adapted from the Gastronomy blog)
3 tbsp fresh strawberry puree
115g unsalted butter slightly cold
Pinch of salt
1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
¼ tsp vanilla (liquid or powder)
Bring butter to room temperature. Preheat the oven at 190ºC (375ºF). Beat the butter until it’s soft, add the sugar and continue beating until you get a nice fluffy mix. Then, add the eggs one by one, mixing in between. Set batter aside.
Whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder. Prepare the milk and the vanilla. Alternate adding the dry and wet (milk) ingredients in the batter and each time mix with the spatula until just incorporated. Don’t forget to add the vanilla. Fill in the cupcake container of choice half full. Bake at 180ºC (356ºF) for 22-25min. Do the first toothpick test at 22min. Test every 2-3min until you get a clean toothpick.
Puree the strawberries. Beat the butter and the pinch of salt until it’s soft. Add the powdered sugar and continue beating. Add the vanilla and the 3 tbsp strawberry puree and mix only enough to blend them. Do not over-beat the frosting. Store in the fridge until the cupcakes are cool enough to be decorated. Sprinkle your decoration of choice (or none).