July 19, 2010

Monday Sweets: Strawberry-Cream Cupcakes

The occasion: Bachelorette party.

The honoree: A bride who loves all things pink and girly.

The concoction: Magnolia's vanilla cupcakes (to which I added almond flavoring) with cream filling and topped with extra-pink strawberry buttercream frosting.

Verdict: They were oh-so festively pink and pleased the female party-goers... and the guys who munched on them after the girls-only festivities.

Component analysis:
Cake: the lightest, most pleasing texture of any cupcakes I've tried; will for sure make again.
Icing: too sweet and almost-fakey strawberry flavor for me, but the spreading consistency was perfect. (Fresh strawberries tend to give me liquidy icing.)
Cream filling: Easy to prepare but time-consuming to stuff. (I attempted piping but resorted to cutting a portion of the top off, filling the middle, and replacing top.) It looks pretty but didn't add much flavor to the cakes. It would probably have more spotlight in a chocolate Hostess-imitation cupcake.
Decor: I need to stick with sprinkles like these light pink pearls from Michael's until I really learn how to pipe icing. Attempts at creative hearts, swirls, and letters did not make the photo.

Mmm, surgary pink delights!

Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcakes 

Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes.
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour 
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 
2 cups sugar 
4 large eggs, at room temperature 
1 cup milk 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 teaspoons almond extract, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers. 

In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside. 

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. 

Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing. 

Note: If you would like to make a layer cake instead of cupcakes, divide the batter between two 9-inch round cake pans and bake the layers for 30-40 minutes. 

Cream Filling    
Enough to fill and decorate 24 cupcakes 

1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow cream 
1/2 cup shortening 
1/3 cup powdered sugar 
1/2 tsp vanilla 
Whip the marshmallow cream, shortening, powdered sugar, and vanilla until it begins to get fluffy.  Add the water and whip well. 

To fill the cupcakes, I used a wide star tip (size 21 is what I use) attached to a coupler on a piping bag.  I just pushed the tip into the top of the cupcakes and pressed about a tablespoon of filling inside.   If you do not have a piping bag you can just cut out a little bit of the cake from the top, make a hole, fill the hole with filling, then top with the cake you cut out. 

Strawberry Buttercream
Follow instructions for raspberry buttercream; substitute strawberry jam for raspberry. Add red food coloring to make icing more pink, if desired.

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