June is my birth month and I have a deep love for all things sweet and summery, so I was super thrilled to find out that this month’s Iron Cupcake theme is Summer Berries! There are four main summer berries that come to mind (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry and blackberry) and I’ve planned a cupcake for each one. Let’s meet our first contender!
Since I had a decent amount of strawberries left over from my latest frozen creation, I decided to do the sensible thing and make my strawberry cupcakes first.
Instead of making everything in the cupcake strawberry-flavored, I decided to provide a little variation by revisiting my theme of boozy cupcakes, and flavored the cake itself with a wonderfully fruity Rosé.
I also macerated some small strawberry halves in a few drops of the wine and a sprinkle of sugar, then popped them in the middle.
(Apologies for the crappy picture, I ate the cupcake at night and gave the rest away the following day so I didn’t have a chance for a better innards picture. I stole Bowser’s light for this shot.)
I wanted to keep everything light and fluffy as possible so I skipped the butter, choosing to use a pure meringue frosting to top these cupcakes.
Let’s get closer and see what else is going on.
I was really excited to make a strawberry cupcake because in my little idea notebook I have a page of general flavor pairings I wanted to try and one included strawberry.
Strawberry and pink peppercorns, to be precise.
I can happily say that I tried this combination, loved it and can now cross it off!
I was originally going to crush the peppercorns but they’re kinda sticky on the inside and don’t really…crush. But, since they’re not really pepper to begin with, eating one whole (even on its own) is no big deal. They’re intense, but sweet and fruity with a hint of spiciness.
These cupcakes are lovely and a real treat for any fan of fruit and wine. The frosting is a little runnier than my previous meringue-only frosting due to the amount of strawberry puree required to give it as much strawberry flavor as I wanted, but it held up great to swirling with a large round tip, in a dollop-y fashion.
Pretty in Pink Strawberry Cupcakes
First, Make the Cakes:
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp fine salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup rose wine
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 egg whites
- Tiny amount of red gel food coloring
Preheat the oven to 350. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a handheld electric mixer, cream the butter, then beat in the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the dry mixture and the wine alternately, in thirds. Once well combined, beat in the vanilla and turn the mixer up to medium-high, then beat in the eggs. Beat for a couple minutes, until the batter is somewhat fluffy. Turn off the mixer and add a drop or two of food coloring, then quickly incorporate on medium speed. It should be a baby pink color but not too pink. Pour into lined muffin tins (fill 3/4 full – do not overfill) and bake for 12-15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in one of the cupcakes comes out clean, but before the cakes start to brown. Allow to cool fully before filling or frosting. Makes 9 regular-sized cupcakes.
A couple of hours before you want to assemble the cupcakes,
Prepare the Strawberries:
- About 5 small strawberries, washed, drained & hulled
- Splash or two of the wine
- 1/2 tsp or so of sugar
Cut the strawberries into 9 heart-shaped equal pieces. Arrange in one layer in a bowl and splash with the wine. Sprinkle the sugar on and refrigerate for a couple hours.
Once the strawberries have macerated, place a piece of strawberry in the middle of each cupcake, using the cone method and trimming the top cone as necessary to fit the berries inside (mmm, cake scraps).
Immediately Make the Frosting:
- 2 egg whites, room temperature (and aged if possible, for a stronger meringue)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Pinch cream of tartar
- Pinch fine salt
- Up to 1/4 cup strained strawberry puree
- Few drops of red gel food coloring
- Pink peppercorns, for garnishing
Place the whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a double boiler over simmering water (ideally right in the metal bowl of a stand mixer so you can transfer it to whipping easily). Whisking gently but constantly, allow the sugar to dissolve (let it come to 160 degrees if you are concerned about eating raw eggs – you will kill any potential bacteria at that temperature). Move to a stand mixer and whip the whites on medium-high until the mixture is room temperature and forms soft peaks. Turn the mixer off and add a third of the strawberry puree, then mix it in on medium. Repeat until flavored to your liking (if you add too much it will get runny so be careful). Drop in the food coloring and mix on medium-low briefly to intersperse it evenly throughout the meringue.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a very large round tip with half of the meringue and pipe it on the cupcakes in an even swirl pattern, refilling with the rest of the meringue about halfway through. Gently place a few (around 6) pink peppercorns on top of each cupcake, spreading them evenly so you get one or two in each bite.
Obligatory Iron Cupcake information:
Our June ETSY PRIZE-PACK is from artists:
- A sweet cupcake ID bracelet by INSANEJELLYFISH, http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5021935
- A groovy linocut piece from BLOCKHEAD PRESS http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=6108705
- a sweet surprise from Sweet Cuppin’ Cakes Cupcakery, http://www.acupcakery.com/
- PLUS, IronCupcake:Earth can not forget our good friend, CAKESPY, http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5243382, who is now going to be doing a piece for our winner each month until further notice – sweet!
Last and certainly not least, don’t forget our corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS, http://www.fiestaproducts.com, HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, http://blog.hellocupcakebook.com, JESSIE STEELE APRONS http://www.jessiesteele.com; TASTE OF HOME books, http://www.tasteofhome.com; a t-shirt from UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM http://www.upwithcupcakes.com/. Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers, http://www.1800flowers.com .