Sunday, May 23, 2010

Strawberry-Lime Cupcakes

With the close of strawberry season, this will be my last in this series of berry-inspired eats. I stumbled across this cupcake recipe a few years ago and knew I would make it some day because it combines some of my favorite flavors. I just had to wait for the right place (Durham) at the right time (the peak of berry season). When making a recipe that showcases a particular ingredient, you want to get it at its prime. So now this fruit treat has come to fruition.

Strawberry-Lime Cupcakes
Adapted from Food Network, makes 6 large cupcakes

1.5 cup flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1.5 tbsp lime zest
2 tbsp lime juice
1 drop green food coloring
6 strawberries, hulled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a jumbo muffin tin with cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.

Using a standing mixer or an electric beater, beat the eggs and sugar until light and foamy, about 2 minutes. While beating, gradually add the butter and vanilla. Turn mixer to slow and gradually add half the flour mixture. Mix in all of the milk, then the other half of the flour mixture. Divide batter evenly amongst muffin cups.

Bake cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the icing, whisk the powdered sugar, lime zest and lime juice in a medium bowl. You can add more lime juice if your icing is still too thick to spread. Mix in food coloring to make a pale green color.

Inserting the Strawberry

Use a paring knife to cut a cone out of the center of the cupcake. Don't worry if it takes a couple of tries to get the hole big enough. Just be sure not to cut all the way through the cupcake. Insert one hulled strawberry into the opening.

Hiding the Strawberry

Cover the strawberry with part of the cupcake that was removed. I took the cone of cake and cut off the top part to help hide the berry. This does not have to be that pretty or complete as you have icing to hide any imperfections.

Strawberry-Lime Cupcakes

Spread the icing over the tops of the cakes. Try to make it as even as possible. Garnish with mint leaves, if desired.

Hidden Strawberry Surprise

The end result is a large, delicious treat bearing a hidden surprise inside. I prefer to keep my baked goods a mystery, especially when they are stuffed with something and let tasters find it on their own. The cake itself is a simple white cake with good sweetness and vanilla flavor. The lime icing really brings it all together with a sweet-tartness to accentuate the berry and add interest to the cake without overwhelming it with too much sugar. If you use the mint, it adds an almost mojito like taste to the cupcake, which now makes me want to try making a mojito with strawberries muddled together with the mint. I would definitely make these if you want to wow some friends, family or coworkers. These cupcakes are an excellent coup de grace for what has been a delicious whirlwind of a strawberry season.

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