I’m happy that strawberries are in season again. In fact, when I overheard my pastry-chef friend talking about how good they are at the farmer’s market right now, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief and joy. Why such an emotional reaction to such a small red fruit? I wondered this myself. And then I remembered something. When I first moved to LA three years ago, it was strawberry season. That was not the easiest time in my life…okay I was downright miserable. But every Sunday morning I would get up, treat myself to a cappuccino and go to my neighborhood farmer’s market where vendors would smile and encourage me to sample their farm fresh berries. They were the sweetest strawberries I had ever tasted. I would always buy three baskets and walk around with my coffee in one hand, eating strawberries with my other as I shopped. This ritual made me grow to love Los Angeles and realize it’s actually not such a bad place to live. I’m still living here three years later and still buying more strawberries than I can eat. This time with my baskets, I made strawberry shortcake cupcakes. I was on dessert duty for a dinner party and my inability to decide between making strawberry shortcake or strawberry cupcakes resulted in these fruity little treats.
Yields 12 cupcakes
- 3 cups fresh strawberries, halved and sliced
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup 1% milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted organic butter, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1egg, room temperature
- 2 egg whites, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
MAKE CUPCAKES: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners and reserve. Place 2 cups of the sliced strawberries in a small food processor; process until pureed. You should have about 2/3 cup of puree, reserve about 4 tablespoons puree for whipped cream frosting and strawberry topping, and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a different bowl, mix together milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and strawberry puree; set aside. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until completely combined and fluffy. Add egg followed by egg whites and mix on medium speed until blended. Slowly add half the flour mixture and mix on low speed until blended. Add the milk mixture and mix until blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as needed, until blended. Using 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. The batter will be thick and you will need to use a spoon to scrape the batter out of the measuring cup. Place pan in oven and bake until cupcake tops are dry to the touch, 23 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cupcakes cool completely in pan before frosting.
NOTE: The cake portion of this recipe is adapted from the famous LA-based Sprinkles strawberry cupcake recipe.
While cupcakes bake, MAKE FROSTING: Chill a medium glass bowl in a freezer until it is cold. Pour whipping cream into bowl and mix with a hand held mixer on high. Add 1/8 cup sugar and remaining vanilla and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Add 2 tablespoons reserved strawberry puree to the whipped cream and mix until just blended.
In small bowl MAKE STRAWBERRY TOPPING: Pour remaining sliced strawberries, sugar and strawberry puree. Toss to coat.
Frost cupcakes with strawberry whipped cream frosting topped with strawberry topping and serve!