Thursday, July 14, 2011

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

During this summer of poorly-fitting swimsuits and shorts, I've tried to keep the sweets to a minimum. (Emphasis on the tried.) But I decided that our staff meeting at work needed a little something special, a little morale boost, a little pizzaz. So I dug out a summer recipe I've been wanting to try. Here are my results:

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
*from Annie's Eats*

For the cake: 
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp lemon zest
12 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped

For the lemonade syrup: 
1 cup lemonade concentrate, thawed
3/4 cup powdered sugar

For the frosting
1 cup fresh strawberries, roughly chopped
12 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
18 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract

- To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line muffin pans with paper liners.  In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.  Stir together with a fork and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until it is light and fluffy.  Add the sugar and beat until well combined.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl and beat on low speed until just incorporated.  Add in the milk and mix until smooth.  Add in the remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed until just blended.  Fold in the fresh strawberries with a spatula.

- Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full.  Bake about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once the cupcakes have cooled, whisk together the lemonade concentrate and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl to make the lemonade syrup.  Poke several holes in the top of each cupcake with a skewer and pour the syrup over the cupcakes, allowing it to soak in.  (Place wax paper underneath your cooling rack so you don’t make a mess!)
- To make the frosting, puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender.  Strain the puree through a mesh sieve to remove the seeds, and set aside.  Beat the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and very fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.  Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.  Mix in strawberry puree, a tablespoon at a time, until you achieve your desired texture and flavor of frosting.  Frost cupcakes as desired, and enjoy!

This recipe is definitely a keeper!

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