I don’t know about you, my fellow Southern Californians, but I’m pretty tired of this cold weather. Summer is still months away, but I’m longing for the sun, the beach, driving with the top down, and those warm summer nights that you wish could last forever. It’s not a secret – I love summertime in California. But alas, it’s February and there are still several months acting as a barrier between me and this beloved season.
But never fear – Sugar Therapy is here. After all, this is “therapy”, and I have a [temporary] solution! What food reminds me of summer? Ice cream, of course! And not much beats an ice cream sundae when it comes to summertime desserts. Obviously it’s too cold for that, so I improvised and made cupcakes instead. This was a complete success, and the prescription totally hit the spot!
I knew I wanted to make a marble cake, but not with vanilla and chocolate – too boring! So I set my mind on a strawberry and chocolate combination. Good strawberry cake is hard to come by, and to be quite frank, they can be kind of gross. But this recipe is made with real strawberries, and doesn’t taste “box-mixish” or artificial. It tastes…good! What a concept. And with the chocolate? Oh, my. Wait, I’m not done. It’s topped with vanilla buttercream, chocolate ganache, sprinkles, and a maraschino cherry. It’s…um…so…good….I…love…
Oh, sorry. I fell into a cupcake coma.
This was quite an adventure. I’ll explain more in the recipe portion of the post, but oy vey.
First, I couldn’t find a strawberry cupcake recipe that didn’t include strawberry gelatin! For anyone who doesn’t know me, I can’t eat gelatin because I’m vegetarian. But after a lot of searching, I found a recipe that used real strawberries! That was doubly awesome because it just so happened that I already had strawberries in my refrigerator! For the chocolate cake, I had read that Hershey’s recipe is amazing but I always hesitated because it’s Hershey’s…I mean come on, it sounds pretty ordinary to me. Well it turns out it’s as good as people say it is, and I have found my go-to simple chocolate cake recipe. 🙂
You know when you notice you’re almost out of something (i.e. shampoo, milk, laundry detergent) and tell yourself that you need to pick some up, and then totally forget about it, but don’t realize it until you need it next? Well, yeah. That happened to me with vanilla. Vanilla?! I’m almost ashamed to say that. That’s my favorite ingredient, and I ran out! This was an interesting discovery when I was making the buttercream. I had plenty for the first batch, but when I realized I needed more icing, I had to quickly find a replacement. Incase you didn’t know, nothing compares to vanilla! *sigh* But you know what (sort of) has a similar flavor? Maple syrup. It worked out, to say the least.
I’ll stop babbling and let you read the recipes and look at the pictures. There are a lot of pictures. I couldn’t choose just a few!
Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes
Hand me a spoon, please. 😉
Cake #1: Pretty in Pink (strawberry) Cupcakes
(from Bake and Destroy)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 egg whites
1/3 cup fresh pureed strawberries
2/3 cup buttermilk
I also added slightly less than 1/4 cup of vanilla pudding to make it moist.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
3. In a large bowl use an electric mixer to beat together sugar and butter until well combined.
4. Add egg white one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. Add pureed strawberries, mixing well.
6. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of buttermilk, beating until just smooth.
7. Just for show, I added a little bit of pink food coloring.
Set the strawberry batter aside.
PAUSE. Um, pureed strawberries? ‘Tis easy. Worry not.
Hull the strawberries, cut them in half.
1 tbsp of granulated sugar.
1 tbsp of water
1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend.
2. Strain the puree. Just like no one wants eggshells in cake, no one wants seeds in their cupcakes.
Cake #2: Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water
Again, I added slightly less than 1/4 cup of vanilla pudding.
1. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.
2. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes.
3. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).
Okay, this part was pretty tricky. I put each batter in its own Ziploc baggy (as if it was frosting) and cut off a very small portion of the corner. Turns out the recipe isn’t kidding, the chocolate batter is thin, and moves fast. I really wanted more of a swirled effect, but I quickly learned that I was not the boss in this situation. The chocolate batter told me what to do. I squeezed batter into each cup, filling it about 1/2 full.
Next came the strawberry, which was much more manageable. I just squeezed the batter right on top of the chocolate. Without giving up my dream of a strawberry-chocolate swirl, I used a toothpick to mix it up…it didn’t really work. Oh well.
Your oven is set to 350. Your cupcake pan is filled and looking pretty and pink (or swirled if you’re cooler than me). It’s time to put those babies in the oven! Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool.
I made a mistake. I filled my baking cups wayyy too full. This is what happens when you fill your baking cups “wayyy” too full.
But look at it from this angle:
Not too shabby! Who knew it would bake that way. I guess that chocolate cake recipe rises a lot more than the strawberry one. Make note of that, and don’t fill the cups with as much chocolate batter as I did. Luckily I was using my now cherished Wilton non-stick pan. Phew.
This isn’t the most attractive picture, but it shows you what the cake looks like on the inside. Look how moist it is, too!
(Thank you, Martha Stewart)
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1.Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.
2. Reduce speed to medium. Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes. (After every 2 additions, increase speed to high, and beat for 10 seconds, then reduce speed to medium-high).
3. Add vanilla, brown sugar, and regular sugar. Beat until buttercream is smooth.
For my second batch of icing, I just swapped out the vanilla for maple syrup and used all the same ingredients and measurements. It worked just fine, but you can bet your bottom dollar I’m going to buy some vanilla before next Monday.
Last week I used Betty Crocker’s recipe for the cheesecake. This week, I used Martha’s recipe, but altered the measurements. I didn’t need as much as that recipe called for. Turns out that I like this ganache better than Betty’s. Stewart: 1 Crocker: 0
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tbsp light corn syrup
1. Place chocolate in a medium-size heatproof bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup just to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; pour mixture over chocolate. Let stand, without stirring, until chocolate begins to melt.
2. Gently stir the chocolate and cream until smooth and glossy.
The best part of making this cupcake was decorating it! I drizzled the chocolate, sprinkled the sprinkles (I couldn’t think of another verb), and placed that beautiful little cherry on top. After I put the first cherry on, was seriously overjoyed with how happy I was with the presentation. It’s so cute! Ahh I love it.
Did I mention I love how these look?
If you stuck it out and read the whole thing, pat yourself on the back, and make these cupcakes as a glorious reward. Thanks for reading! I’ll let the cupcakes wrap up this post.