Good weather at least gives us a break in this cloudy winter. Besides, strawberries are now in season, what means I can only think of them (well, and of chocolate, of course!).
But ironically, now that I can use fresh strawberries… I go and bake artificially flavoured strawberry cupcakes instead of adding pureed strawberries to the dough or to the buttercream, like I’ve done before. It feels like cheating, but I had two reasons. First… I manage to ate all the strawberries before making these cupcakes (oops!); second, this recipe works all year round, as you don’t need fresh strawberries (the same principle underlying this recipe).
For these cupcakes, I have followed the recipe of basic vanilla cupcakes of the Hummingbird Bakery. It is quick and easy to perform, and it yields only 12 cupcakes (more than enough for a small family like mine). And most important: foolproof and delicious.
STRAWBERRY CUPCAKES WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM
For the cupcakes:
120 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
140 g (3/4 cup) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon (7.5 mL) baking powder
a pinch of salt
40 g butter (room temperature)
60 mL + 60 mL (1/4 cup + 1/4 cup) whole or semi skimmed milk
1 egg (the recipe calls for a medium egg, though I have always used large eggs and there is no big difference)
1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) strawberry flavour
- Preheat the oven, 180 ºC.
- Mix dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) with the butter until sandy consistency (stand mixer: paddle attachment, speed 2-4, 2-3 min).
- Add 1/4 cup milk and whisk until integrated
- In a separate bowl, mix the rest of the ingredientes (egg, vanilla and strawberry flavours, and the other 1/4 cup milk), whisk until well mixed. Then, pour into the previous mixture, and beat until incorporated and smooth (but do not overmix, just a couple of minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl in the middle).
- Divide the dough in the cupcake liners (do not fill higher than 2/3 of the height; this task is better performed with an ice cream spoon). Bake 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden and a skewer inserted into the cupcakes comes out clean.
- Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting.
For the buttercream:
160 g butter (room temperature)
20 tablespoons icing sugar (it can be more or it can be less, depending on how sweet you like the buttercream)
5 teaspoons (25 mL) milk
80 g melted white chocolate
- With the paddle attachment, beat the butter, icing sugar and milk at low-medium speed for several minutes (until light and fluffy).
- Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave (medium power, checking and beating each 30 seconds).
- Add the melted chocolate to the butter mixture (the chocolate must be slighlty warm: not too hot to melt the butter; but not too cold to solidify again). Beat until integrated and smooth.
Before attempting any recipe, I note down the quantities and directions in a small draft notebook. If the recipe is a success (that is, if I really like it), then I neatly copy the information, notes and modifications on the “pretty notebook”, and occasionally (when I find the time to do it), post it on the blog. If the recipe fails, or simply it’s not what I expected, I stamp a big red “Do not repeat” mark on the draft notebook.
Lately I have a sort of fixation on chocolate. I see new recipes on blogs, but only the most chocolate-y are the ones that attracts powerfully my attention… and go directly to the “recipes-to-try list”. If it were possible, I would try one different recipe a day… But it’s materially impossible for me!
I have never bothered to bake homemade cookies at home, it was something for what I was very lazy. Lazy… until the day I tried this recipe. They are so tasty, so yummy… and the strawberries and white chocolate add a special touch.
The best part is that preparing them is quite easy and fast. Since I baked them for the first time, that cookie laziness has turned into an obsession for homemade cookies. This recipe calls for dried strawberries, but you can use any other dried fruit instead (adding a flavouring of the same fruit will enhance the taste of the cookies, but vanilla extract will work as well). Don’t be afraid of doubling the quantities to obtaine more dough: the cookies will disappear, guaranteed!
STRAWBERRY SHORTBREAD COOKIES
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
30 g butter
150 g Crisco
1 1/4 cup light brown suga
1 egg (large)
1 tablespoon strawberry flavor
1 cup dried strawberries, chopped
1 cup white chocolate chips (or chopped white chocolate)
- Preheat the oven to 175 ºC (350 ºF).
- Cream together butter, Crisco and sugar, until light and fluffly (about 3 minutes).
- Add the egg and the strawberry flavor.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and salt). Add to the butter mixture, slowly, until completely combined.
- Add the strawberries and white chocolate, folding until combined.
- Use an ice-cream scoop to place equal dollops of dough onto a baking pan.
- Bake at 175 ºC (350 ºF) until golden-brown, about 12-15 minutes.
- Place the cookies onto a wire rack and let rest until cool.
Recipe source: Add a pinch
San Valentine’s day is coming… and yes, for me the typical treat for that day is a red velvet cake, with its deep red colour. Yet I’ve always been sort of reluctant to bake it because of the huge amount of food coloring that is needed… Until the day I saw in La receta de la felicidad a red velvet cake with less sugar, less fat, and without a hint of food coloring; I immediately decided to go for it.
The new year has brought a new life and new resolutions, so let’s start it with joy. This is a (mini) selection of some of the findings of the last weeks that I have liked the most. They are recipes that I was dying to try (one of them I have yet to try…), a song that I can’t stop listening to since I heard it by chance the other day, and a newborn photo technique that I would love to learn.