Sunday, April 22, 2012

Strawberry Meringue Butter Cream Cupcakes

Welcome to heaven, population: you.

Too corny?  Oh well.  It was difficult for me to share these cupcakes with my family, so I really do believe I've found my favorite recipe.

But it's not just the cupcakes, trust me.

I was planning on using an angel food recipe for the cake, but then found this handy dandy box of strawberry cake mix at the store and quickly ditched my preliminary efforts.

 I followed the box mix directions, with one minor exception.

I added about 1 cup of diced strawberries to the mix.  This way it really reinforced the strawberriness of the cupcake.

And it wasn't over powering.  It was still the light and fluffy that I was looking for, just with little chunks of love added!

 Where I really wanted to spend my time was with the Strawberry Meringue Butter Cream frosting.  I know I try to avoid Martha Stewart, but I think she really nailed this one.

4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) strawberry jam, pureed in a food processor
I started off by using my PC Batter Bowl over a sauce pan of simmering water.  I combined the egg whites and sugar until dissolved and warm to the touch.

You're supposed to use your free standing mixer bowl, but since my KitchenAid is shoved back in the corner of a deep cabinet, this was a close second.

 Next, I added my whisk attachment to my hand mixer (again, I was supposed to use the free standing mixer), and whisked until there were stiff, wet peaks, which felt like forever.  Martha claims it's 6 minutes, but with a hand held, it certainly felt longer.

Finally, I'll let Martha take it from here...

With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. (If frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) Beat in vanilla. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes. Stir in strawberry jam with a rubber spatula until frosting is smooth.
 Here's where I added my own trick...
You know I love to can, right?  Well, I didn't have a plain strawberry jam in the house, but I did have one better: I had a strawberry jam with Thai herbs that I made about a month ago.  It's sweet like strawberry jam, but the basil, mint, and cilantro add just a bit more.  I processed it, as per directed, and then used my hand mixer to blend the entire thing together.  (It was much quicker than doing it by hand.  I tried that first and got extremely frustrated.)

By the time I was done, none of my frosting tips were wide enough for my chunks.  So, I just took a spoon and smeared the frosting on.  For the topper, I just took a quarter of a strawberry and made two cuts along the length of the strawberry from the hull, leaving the tip connected.  With the little bit of left over frosting, I just dipped in the leftover strawberries.  I had to force myself not to eat it all.  SO GOOD!

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