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Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

Baking with fresh strawberries can be challenging, as the berry has a significant amount of water. However, if you can solve this problem you can make cupcakes that will have a wonderful fresh strawberry flavor as well as a pink strawberry color.

Julian's Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes
for the July 4th Celebration
Today I'm decorating these cupcakes for a U.S. Independence Day celebration, but you could easily just use them as a spring/summer cupcake or for any number of celebrations. See photo at bottom. Without the holiday theme they are pretty in pink inside and out.

Using the Color Swirl Technique
for the Independence Day Holiday

Standard Size Cupcakes Before Frosting
My recipe is pretty large, making three dozen standard sized cupcakes. In this day and age it's hard to tell what that means. Here I'm talking about using standard pans and cupcake papers; not mini and not jumbo sized. Just the standard cupcake pan your mom used to make. To many these now seem small, but to me they seem just right. For a frosted cupcake you really only want it to be a few bites. These are a perfect treat and not 'too much' or 'too sweet', which you often hear when people get those huge cupcakes.

Melted Strawberry Jammy Bits
In this recipe I use 'strawberry jammy bits' that I purchase at King Arthur Flour. They are available other places as well. When these are added to the mixture, they melt somewhat during baking and provide a big of extra flavor and little pockets of gooey strawberry, which I prefer. However, the cupcakes come out well without them if you don't have them handy.

Finally, these are a good item to make ahead and frost on the day you plan to use them. They store well in the refrigerator for up to three days as noted in the instructions below.

Ingredients (Makes 3 dozen)

Cooking the Strawberries
Cupcakes
16 ounces fresh strawberries
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons strawberry gelatin powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons strawberry flavoring
Ingredients for Mixing
1 1/4 cups milk or cream
8 ounces strawberry jammy bits (optional)

Frosting 
7 cups powdered sugar
2 cup butter, softened
Strained strawberry reduction from above
2 teaspoon strawberry flavoring
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Cupcakes 
Clean and hull the strawberries and slice them in halves. Toss the strawberries in 1/2 cup sugar in a small saucepan. Add the lemon juice and stir over medium-high heat until the mixture boils, stirring regularly. Boil for 5 minutes and then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 25 minutes more, stirring regularly, until the mixture is reduced by about half and a loose jam consistency. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Place a strainer (sieve) over a bowl and scoop out 1/2 cup of the cooked strawberry mixture into the strainer. Using a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon, work the mixture through the strainer until the liquid is in the bowl below. Scrape off the underside of the strainer to gather the strained puree into the bowl. Cover and refrigerate the strained puree. Stir the thick ingredients that wouldn't pass through the strainer back into the pan with the remaining strawberries. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate approximately 30 minutes or until cool to the touch.

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line your muffin tins with cupcake papers. (Note. If you only have one 12 piece muffin tin, you can do this in batches.)

Measure the milk and add the vanilla and strawberry flavor to the milk. Set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, strawberry gelatin and salt together. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy; about 2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar and beat on medium for an additional 2 minutes. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and add to the running mixer one at a time until well combined, about 2-3 minutes more. Turn the mixer to low, and add the cooled strawberry mixture until combined.

With the mixer on low, slowly add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and then half of the milk mixture. Add another third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and then the remainder of the milk mixture. Finally, add the last third of the flour mixture to the batter and mix until will blended. Stir in the optional strawberry jammy bits.

Transfer the thick batter into the muffin papers, not filling them more than half way.. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-35 minutes, until a pic comes out clean when tested. Test at 25 minutes, then ever 3-4 minutes. Do not over bake. When done, remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Remove from muffin tins using a fork and place on a wire rack to cool completely. At this stage the cooled cupcakes can be refrigerated if covered with plastic wrap or stored in an air-tight container for up to 3 days before frosting.

Frosting Instructions
Sift the powdered sugar to remove lumps. Beat butter with an electric mixer in a bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the strained strawberry reduction* and the vanilla and strawberry flavoring. Slowly add the powdered sugar into the running mixer until the butter and sugar are well blended. (*Note for color swirl, separate the frosting into three bowls and only add the strawberry puree to the red batch, leaving the one white and dying the other blue with food coloring.)

Frost the cupcakes with the strawberry buttercream frosting using a knife or a pastry bag. Add any additional garnishes (like sprinkles) and serve. If not using immediately, they can sit at air conditioned room temperature (aka 75F degrees) for 4 hours. Otherwise refrigerate up to 24 hours. Let come to room temperature before serving.

Color Swirl Technique
If you want to do a three color swirl, you can accomplish this in two ways. The first is to load a pastry bag with all three colors, evenly dispersed and in equal quantities. Alternatively you can purchase the Wilton Color Swirl kit which has a special adapter to connect three bags to a single coupler.

Color Swirl Technique - Uses Food Color

Without Holiday Sprinkles and only Strawberry Puree for Color

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