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Monday, February 13, 2012

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting

It's almost Valentine's Day! Do you have any plans for tomorrow? I'm going to work... so the highlights will probably be my lunch date with friends and my dinner date with Howard.

Regardless if it were Valentine's Day or not, why not make something sweet and pink?

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
(Makes about 20-22 cupcakes)

1 stick of unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
Seeds from one vanilla bean
4 large egg whites
1/4 cups of milk
2 1/4 cups of cake flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and have your liners ready in the cupcake tray.
  2. Using a stand-mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds together.
  3. Meanwhile, use a hand-mixer to whisk the egg whites until soft peaks are formed. Slowly add in the milk. It will be light and frothy. Pour 1/3 of this mixture with the butter mixture along with the vanilla extract and mix until incorporate.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Pour 1/3 into the butter mixture and incorporate. 
  5. Alternate between adding the egg/milk and flour/baking powder/salt into the butter/sugar/vanilla bean mixture until they are all incorporated.
  6. Use an ice cream scoop to evenly distribute the batter into the cupcake liners.
  7. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Let the cupcakes cool before frosting.
Strawberry Frosting
(Makes enough for 22 cupcakes)

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups of confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons of puréed and strained strawberries
  1. Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until smooth. About 4-5 minutes.
  2. If you're using fresh strawberries, cut off the stem and the leaves. Give the strawberries a wash and pat them dry with a paper tower. 
  3. Purée the strawberries and strain them through a sieve to separate the seeds. If you look at the photo above, we made about 1 cup, but you only need 3 tablespoons - otherwise the frosting's consistency will be too runny.
  4. Add the seedless purée and mix until incorporated.
  5. Fill your piping bag or use a metal spatula to frost your cooled cupcakes.
The strawberry frosting doesn't have a strong strawberry flavour, but it is there. We couldn't add anymore strawberry purée because the frosting would have been too runny. I think the solution is to use really ripe strawberries (so plan ahead) or to maybe boil it down so that some of the water content evaporates?

And if you want the frosting to have a stronger pink colour, you'll have to add some food colouring to it. We kept the pale pink since we didn't want to add any other chemicals to it. Seriously, strawberry frosting is a tough one to figure out. Do bakeries use strawberry extract to get a stronger flavour?
Overall, the strawberry frosting works with these light and airy vanilla cupcakes. The cupcakes are really soft and fluffy! Adding vanilla beans make it taste so much better, but I'll probably use less sugar next time.

Woof! I couldn't resist.