Ralph just gets the best photos every time. Isn't this one amazing? It's exactly how I feel about these cupcakes: loving. The hearts didn't do so badly either..
Just the words 'Swiss meringue buttercream' have me dreaming of some heavenly dessert that is sweet but not too sweet, light but not too light, creamy but not to creamy.. It's like without even knowing what it tastes like at all from reading Martha (Stewart) I just know that this icing is going to be it: the tastiest, easiest to use and prettiest. It's a LOT for an icing to live up to. Depending on who you ask, this icing did and didn't. Personally, it's not my favourite, but I'm won over by the true strawberry flavour.
Let me start by telling you about strawberries. I love strawberries- they're not my absolute favourite fruit but just their colour and their taste.. It's the relationship between the two that's important. Say for example grapes- they're delicious but they don't make you look twice. Strawberries are so red and gorgeous, that it might not matter that they're just a tad too acidic to be completely comfortable to eat. It's like they're the gorgeous Jessica Rabbit girl with the iconic red dress and lips but they're just slightly lacking in the smarts department. It just matters that much less because strawberries are just so pretty.
Now I really dislike strawberry flavouring. I avoid it as much as possible. I just can't stand that it doesn't seem possible to replicate strawberry flavour without making adding that sickening sweet taste. Strawberries aren't all that sweet, the core of their flavour is in the sourness.
That's why I love this recipe. No flavouring- just strawberries chopped and pureed. YUM!
The only thing wrong with this recipe is that it makes so many cupcakes! I had 36 at home (Martha did warn me!). I send 12 off to work with Ralph, took 8-10 to work with me, passed them onto neighbors, Ralph's mom, ate far too many.. And there are still 4 left! Let me tell you though, the ones I took to work all disappeared, even though my office has 7 people in it on a good day, and I brought the Rice Krispy Treats in on the same day! I couldn't get one for Anibug, my wonderful best friend. But these cupcakes provided me with a perfect way to send my love:
The cupcakes were just wonderful. I said the icing wasn't my favourite, but the cupcakes absolutely are! The pieces of strawberry were small enough to be part of the cupcake rather than just chunks of strawberry inside the cupcake (BIG difference) . They were fluffy and just SO delicious, not too sweet, and not too acidic from the strawberries. Just absolutely amazing.. I can't wait to have another..
Adapted from Martha Steward's Cupcakes
3 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tblsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
225 g unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
3 large eggs
1 large egg white
1 cup milk
2 cups finely chopped strawberries (I used a Twista - not saying you should but it's made my life just a little easier in this case)
1) Preheat oven to 180 C
2) Line muffin tins with papers
3) Mix together in a bowl, the flour, baking powder, and salt.
4) In a different bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla.
5) Add eggs and egg white one at a time, mixing in between.
6) Add half of the flour mixture, mix, then add half of the milk and mix again. Repeat with the rest of the flour and milk. Mix thoroughly.
7) Add the strawberries and stir in by hand.
8) Divide between muffin tins and bake for 25 - 30 minutes. These cupcakes take longer than usual, so don't worry if they're not ready when you look in after 15 minutes. Also, if the come out a bit flat, try upping the temperature a bit, it helped me. This recipe will make 3 batches.
Strawberry Meringue Buttercream
From Martha Steward's Cupcakes
4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
340 g unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups Strawberries, blended to a juice
1) Put egg white and sugar into a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk these by hand until the mixture is gorgeously white and silky and is smooth when you rub it between your fingers (honestly, I just COULDN'T get it to this stage. I stirred and stirred and rubbed and rubbed! After about 20 minutes of nothing happening I gave up, but it was almost completely smooth when I did).
2) Now, the mixture needs to be mixed for about 10 minutes until is had stiff peaks and the bowl is cool to the touch.
3) While constantly mixing, add the butter, about a tablespoon at a time. Mix thoroughly.
4) Now, add the strawberries and stir in by hand.
I got SUCH great feedback on this icing- my boss LOVED it. Unfortunately for me, once I tasted white chocolate cream cheese icing, I was ruined for other icings.. One thing I'll say: 36 cupcakes are a great way to make friends, and a great way to necessitate making friends..