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Desserts, Sweet Snacks

Strawberries + Cream Cupcakes

Easter Cupcakes 2016: a few years ago, I started a random new tradition of baking Easter themed cupcakes — wth flowers or birds nests or rabbit ears or … well, sommething Easter-y. This year there are three kinds. Enjoy!

Ingredients
for the cupcakes
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons table salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but slightly cool, cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs
3/4 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the strawberry fillings
1 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar

for the butter cream frosting
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water
4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups confectioners sugar

Directions
First make your filling, as this will need time to cool completely and are actually best if you let them cool in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours prior to assembly.

Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Process 2 cups sliced strawberries and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a blender or food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Transfer strawberry mixture to a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Add gelatin to strawberry mixture, stirring constantly until gelatin dissolves. Cover and chill until consistency of unbeaten egg whites, stirring occasionally (about 30 minutes). Reserve about half of this mixture as the compote filling.

Next make your cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a mini muffin pan with paper baking cups and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar on low speed. Add the butter, 1 piece at a time, and combine until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add the eggs, 1 at time, and mix until fully combined.

Add the milk and vanilla, increase the speed to medium, and mix until the batter is light, fluffy and free of lumps. Fill the lined muffin cups three-quarters full, being careful not to overfill. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean, about 12-15 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. Place the strawberries and the sugar in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Macerate and let the berries become soft and the sugar completely melt. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until smooth. Return to the sauce pan and add corn starch slurry and bring to a boil until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Once cooled, in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese and butter. Add the strawberry syrup. Add the sugar and beat until smooth. Depending on the consistency, you may want to add more confectioners sugar.

To assemble and decorate: Insert a small knife at a 45 degree angle about 1/8 inch from the edge of each cupcake and cut all the way around, remove a cone of cake (or use a cupcake corer, if you have one). Cut away all but the top 1/4 inch of the cone; leaving only a small disk of cake which will be used to top the cupcake. With a small spoon, pour in 2-3 tablespoons of the strawberry compote. Top with the disk. Frost liberally with the strawberry frosting.

Keep refrigerated until almost ready to serve.

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