Good Eats and Sweet Treats from My Small Boston Kitchen

Strawberry Cupcakes for Easter

In all the time I’ve been a blogger, I’ve never gotten into the groove of sharing holiday-themed recipes in advance of the holiday. Obviously it makes sense, nobody wants a recipe for Easter Cupcakes when Easter is over, but I’ve just never put enough planning into it to make it work. Well, this is my newfound attempt at getting holiday content up and shared BEFORE the holiday, and I’m quite pleased with what I have to share!

I did a lot of Easter recipe research before I started baking yesterday, and couldn’t really settle on just one thing. I hadn’t made cupcakes in a while, so I decided to go that route, and the decorations just sort of came about as an afterthought. I’d bought a bag of Easter M&M’s some time ago, so I knew I wanted to incorporate those, and I also had bookmarked this really neat blog tutorial on how to make Mum (flower) Cupcakes, so I thought I’d give that a try.

The strawberry swiss meringue buttercream had other plans in mind, so my mum replications weren’t exactly spot on, but I had fun playing around with the designs. I’d definitely like to try mum designs again in the future!

Swiss meringue buttercream is a different beast than any other frosting, and while I was quite pleased with how the buttercream came out flavor-wise, it’s appearance left something to be desired. I followed the instructions exactly, and the buttercream pre-strawberries was perfect, so I’m not entirely certain where I went wrong (maybe didn’t beat it enough after I added the pureed strawberries?), but it was still easy to work with and incredibly delicious. It tastes like strawberry ice cream!

The cupcakes were also yummy, very light and airy, with a wonderful buttery taste. One thing that was a tad disappointing is that the strawberry pieces in the batter sunk to the bottom of the cupcakes, so the top half of the cupcake is all batter, the bottom half all strawberries. It didn’t impact the flavor or texture, but I like my cupcakes to be consistent throughout and these weren’t. They also don’t rise much while baking, so you have to be careful not to over-fill the muffin tins before baking. Otherwise, you end up with cupcakes like mine that have crispy edges that strayed outside the boundaries of the paper liners. Aesthetically I like my cupcakes to have a slight dome or at least stay within their paper liners, but since I have such bold flowery designs on these, I’d hardly pay the extended edges an extra thought.

Overall these cupcakes are adorable and super flavorful. But beware – you can eat a couple before you even realize where they’ve gone! If you have other candy decorations, like speckled egg candies or jelly beans or mini cadbury eggs, those would work just as well to decorate, or you can just use the frosting. I didn’t add the M&M’s for flavor, just for color – the cupcakes have plenty of flavor going on themselves.

If you’re looking for something bright and springy to grace your (Easter) table this weekend, these would be a good choice! The swiss meringue buttercream can be daunting, but if you have the patience it always works out, and it’s flavor is unparalleled!

Strawberry Cupcakes
adapted from Annie’s Eats

For the cupcakes:
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2¼ cups sugar
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs plus 1 large egg white
1 cup milk
2½ cups finely chopped fresh strawberries*

For the frosting:
1½ cups fresh strawberries (8 oz.), rinsed, hulled and coarsely chopped
4 large egg whites
1¼ cups sugar
3 sticks (1½ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

1) In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend.

2) In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs and egg white one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions alternating with the milk, mixing each addition just until incorporated.  Gently fold in the chopped strawberries with a spatula.

3) Divide the batter between the paper liners, filling each about ¾-full.  Bake until light golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-28 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Allow to cool in the pans a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

4) To make the frosting, place the strawberries in a food processor or blender.  Puree until completely smooth.  Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.

5) Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer** fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.  (The bowl should be cool to the touch.)

6) Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (or longer – it WILL come together!)  Blend in the strawberry puree until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

7) Fill a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip with the frosting. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired, and garnish with fresh berries or berry slices.

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