Sweet Strawberry Cupcakes

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A few weeks ago made strawberry cupcakes for the first time. I used Martha Stewart's "Sprinkles" recipe hoping it would produce a batch of tasty cupcakes. Unfortunately it was all wrong. They weren't horrible, but I certainly wasn't something I was going to share with all of you. I should have listened to the reviews a little more instead of thinking that they would turn out fine. I was a bit frustrated but I didn't want to give up. I decided to rework the recipe to try to figure out what was making them so bland. A couple of minutes later I had come up with a recipe that I was willing to try. I went out and bought frozen strawberries and some strawberry oil (because I couldn't find strawberry extract) to see if that would make a difference. I'm happy to say that along with those ingredients, the buttermilk, lemon zest and cake flour really helped turn this recipe into one I'd use time and time again. So if you're looking for a strawberry cupcake recipe that actually tastes like strawberries, go ahead and give this a try. Just remember to follow the recipe exactly. Resist getting fresh strawberries as hard as that may be, you won't regret it!

Strawberry Cupcakes
1 c. all-purpose flour
½ c. cake flour
1¼ c. sugar
8 tbsp. (1 stick) butter, room temperature
¼ c. buttermilk
⅔ c. frozen strawberry puree
½ tsp. strawberry oil (or ¾ tsp. strawberry extract)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1-2 drops red or pink food coloring
(note: if you choose to omit this, you will have slightly greyish cupcakes)

Strawberry buttercream:
2 - 2½ c. powdered sugar
½ c. (1 stick) butter, room temperature
2 tbsp. heavy cream
2 tbsp. frozen strawberry puree
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line one standard muffin tin with liners, set aside.
2. In food processor or blender, puree frozen strawberries. Warm puree in microwave for 30 seconds until it becomes smooth.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add buttermilk, strawberry puree, strawberry oil (or extract), lemon zest and vanilla, mix until incorporated. Add one egg at a time, mix just until combined.
4. In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda. and salt. With mixing speed on low, gradually add to wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. Remove bowl from stand and fold in food coloring.
5. Fill each cupcake liner ¾ of the way full. Place in oven and bake for 24-26 minutes or until the tops begin to turn golden brown and the cupcakes spring back nicely when touched. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
6. While cupcakes are cooling, to prepare buttercream, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together butter, heavy cream, strawberry puree, vanilla and salt (for about 1 minute). With mixing speed on low, gradually add the powdered sugar. Beat for 3-4 minutes until the frosting becomes light and fluffy. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes as desired.
Adapted from Martha Stewart, Sprinkles' Strawberry Cupcakes | Makes approximately 12 standard size cupcakes

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