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Strawberries & Cream Cupcakes

© David James Di Pardo – 2016

I made these cute little guys for my godmother’s b-day last week and I was really pleased with the way the recipe turned out so I figured I’d share it. Her favorite cake is strawberry shortcake hence my decision to make a strawberry flavored treat.

Strawberries & Cream Cupcakes

© David James Di Pardo – 2016

Let me tell you these are packed with strawberry goodness. Fresh, chopped strawberries in the cupcakes, strawberry preserves swirled into the buttercream frosting, and of course topped with more fresh strawberries. The berries I used are local and therefore on the smaller side, but incredibly sweet and flavorful. Almonds and almond extract would also make a nice addition to the cupcake and frosting if you choose to go that route. I preferred to keep it simple with vanilla bean paste allowing the strawberries to take center stage.

Strawberries & Cream Cupcakes

© David James Di Pardo – 2016

Layering the strawberry preserves with the buttercream in the piping bag gives these a cute swirl affect which I really like and stole borrowed from a Martha Stewart recipe. If you want a more pronounced swirl you can paint the inside of the piping bag with a line (or two) of red food coloring, but I chose to keep these simple and colorant free. You could also mix the preserves directly into the buttercream to make it a pastel pink. Its only frosting after all, have fun with it. You can also omit the frosting and make strawberry muffins, but somehow that doesn’t seem as much fun…

Strawberries & Cream Cupcakes

Makes 24 cupcakes

Cupcakes:

  • 2 cups chopped, fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup canola oil or coconut oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, or other non-dairy milk
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Buttercream Frosting:
  • 1 1/4 cup reduced aquafaba
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 1 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups Earth Balance vegan butter (3 sticks / approx 340g), softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, such as Spectrum (approx 225g), softened to room temperature
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup strawberry preserves, strained
  • Fresh strawberries to garnish

Place the aquafaba in a small pot and simmer until reduced to approximately 1 and 1/4 cups. Add the sugar to the hot liquid and stir until dissolved. Refrigerate overnight or place in the freezer until completely chilled but not frozen (if you’re tight on time).

For the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350°F and line 2 standard 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the oil, almond milk, sugar, apple cider vinegar, vanilla and salt. Mix until smooth.

In a separate bowl, or onto a piece of wax/parchment paper sift together the flour, cornstarch and baking soda to ensure they are free of clumps.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir together until just combined. Gently fold in the chopped strawberries.

Divide the batter among the lined cupcake tins using a tablespoon or large ice cream scoop.

Bake for 23-25 minutes, rotating the pans after 10 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the frosting, place the cooled aquafaba mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Start on slow and slowly bring the speed up to high. Whisk the mixture on high until stiff glossy peaks form, this may take a couple minutes depending on the speed of your mixer.

Reduce the speed to slow and add in the confections’ sugar. Let the sugar incorporate into the frosting before bringing the speed back up to high (otherwise you’ll wear it). With the mixture running on high begin adding the vegan butter and shortening, one tablespoon or chunk at a time. If the mixture looks like its beginning to split, don’t worry, it’ll come back together.

Once all the butter and shortening have been incorporated, the frosting should be smooth and hold its shape, beat in the vanilla bean paste.

Note: Depending on the temperature of your room and the temperature of the butter you used, you may find the frosting too soft to pipe. If that’s the case, place the bowl in the fridge to chill for 15-30 minutes.

To assemble, strain the strawberry preserves through a fine mesh strainer to remove any fruit solids and seeds, pushing it through with the back of a spoon or spatula.

Fit a pastry bag with a large star or round tip, and set it in a glass to keep it upright while you fill it with frosting. Also a good idea to fold down a couple inches of the side.

Dump the strawberry preserves into the center of your bowl of frosting. Using a large serving spoon or spatula, scoop up the frosting from the center of the bowl outwards so that each scoop has both frosting and preserves, layer into the pastry bag.

Starting from the center of each cupcake make a spiral outwards, to form a rose pattern. you can practice on a piece of parchment paper if you prefer and later return the frosting to the bag.

Top each cupcake with strawberries and serve at room temperature. If you’re not serving them immediately, they can be stored in the fridge. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they’re made, but I won’t lie, I ate left over cupcakes for a few days afterwards and they were still delicious.

Strawberries & Cream Cupcakes

© David James Di Pardo – 2016

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