Wifey With a Knifey: Strawberry Lemonade-Filled Cupcakes

Strawberry Lemonade Filled Cupcakes

It may still be a month or so until Spring officially starts, but the weather in Colorado has been so deliciously springtime it seemed only fitting to bake something sunny. The secret to this bubbly strawberry-filled lemon cupcake is using lemon flavored sparkling water instead of milk in the recipe. This simple swap makes for a super fluffy cupcake with a hint of lemon to start building upon. Of course, when I go lemon I like to go lemon and add in a generous amount of fresh lemon juice with a few teaspoons of lemon extract along the way.

Wifey With a Knifey: Strawberry Lemonade-Filled Cupcakes

I learned a while ago that natural flavors can easily burn out during the baking process. While found-in-nature-flavors are almost always best when derived directly from the source, supplementing with a flavoring extract can ensure the intended flavor comes through to the very last bite. I typically like to double the amount of extracts used in a recipe to keep the flavors from fading. Incorporating lemon and vanilla extract in this recipe respectively, the lemon juice and pureed strawberries really shine like the sun.

Wifey With a Knifey: Strawberry Lemonade-Filled Cupcakes

The pureed strawberry filling, of course, makes for a fun surprise inside. Even better is the heavenly homemade strawberry buttercream beautifully decorating the top. Using a number 826 frosting tip creates a delicious pillow of frosting reminiscent of a flower in bloom; the perfect decoration for such a seasonal treat.

Wifey With a Knifey: Strawberry Lemonade-Filled Cupcakes

You may recognize the paper cupcake liners used here from the recipe I posted last week for Valentine Vanilla Cupcakes with Marshmallow Cloud Frosting. You may also remember how much I was enjoying making all things pink for Valentines Day (which, by the way, apparently has very gruesome and heartbreaking backstory). None the less, I was delighted to make these cupcakes as a last hurrah for my daughter’s Valentine Day cupcake party last Sunday.

Although not gruesome in any shape or form, I was initially quite scared to be hosting 10 preschoolers in an already crowded space. So much so I started doing panicky last minute things like purchasing shelving and storage cubes from Target and moving furniture to other rooms.

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Ultimately it was a lovely little party that included a craft making valentines for parents and a Laurie Berkner Band dance party. The menu included simple yet sweet kabobs of marshmallows with chunks of strawberries and pineapples, bagels with cream cheese cut into fourths, and pouches of Honest Kids organic fruit juice. At the end of the party, the kiddos used non-peril sprinkles, sweetheart candies, and jelly beans to decorate their very own cupcake to eat or to take home.

Throwing this tiny fête confirmed for me that 2 hours is the perfect amount of time for a playdate or children’s party. Inviting parents to drop off is nice as well especially when the kids are of preschool age and fairly self-sufficient. Doing this saved me a ton of stress planning a menu for the adults and instead allowed me to just focus on ideas for the kids. The parents who did decide to stay were super wonderful and it was nice to have the extra hands on deck.

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One of our adorable little guests happened to be 100 percent allergic to gluten which gave me the perfect opportunity to make a gluten-free version of this recipe. For this, I combined a total of 2 cups sifted gluten-free flour mix and gluten-free oat flour. I am confident rice or coconut flour would work beautifully as well. Everything else in the recipe stayed the same although I did opt to hand mix versus using the stand mixer. Overmixing will always ruin a gluten-free batter. Mixing by hand will keep you from going overboard, ensuring the cake will still come out moist and soft. You only want to mix until the ingredients are well combined versus non-gluten-free batter which is a bit sturdier and more forgiving.

Wifey With a Knifey: Strawberry Lemonade-Filled Cupcakes

Just a couple of other notes for this recipe:  (1) 18 minutes proved to be the perfect amount of time to bake and when a toothpick inserted in the center always comes out clean, (2) always use a 3 tablespoon cookie scoop to get 24 equally sized cupcakes – don’t try to eyeball it, (3) giving the pan a little tap tap tap on the counter top before baking helps settle the batter and release any bubbles to the top, and (4) sifting the flour for the batter as well as the powdered sugar for the frosting makes a huge difference in the texture of both- it’s definitely worth the extra step.

Have super fun making these. Time to get your springtime on! 😎

 

Strawberry Lemonade-Filled Cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients (makes 24 cupcakes)

  • 2 cups flour (gluten-free or all-purpose)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 stick (4oz) of salted butter, room temp
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs lemon zest
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cups liquid egg whites
  • 3/4 cup lemon flavored sparkling water

Cupcake Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two 12 cup cupcake baking trays with paper cupcake liners.
  2. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter and shortening until light and fluffy (abut 3 minutes). Cream in the sugar, vanilla, and lemon extract until fluffy again. Add in lemon juice and lemon zest. Beat until combined.
  4. Add in each egg one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Using a low setting, mix in the egg whites.
  5. Beginning and ending with the flour mix, alternate mixing in the flour and the sparkling water. Be sure to mix on a low setting to keep the batter from drying out.
  6. Scoop 3 tablespoons of batter into each cupcake liner and bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set 1 minute in the baking trays. Transfer to wire racks to finish cooling.

Strawberry Filling Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 Tbs corn starch
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries, stems removed
  • 2 tsp salted butter (add 1/8 tsp salt if using unsalted butter)

Strawberry Filling Instructions

  1. Bring all ingredients (except the 2 tsp butter) to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until thickened. Stir often.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the 2 tsp butter. Let cool completely.
  3. To fill the cupcakes, use the wide end of a number 230 frosting tip to cut a hole in the top center of each cooled cupcake. Simply push straight down through the top but not quite all the way to the bottom. Gently pull the frosting tip back out and the displaced cake will be left inside. A quick blow of air through the small end of the tip will remove the cake scraps before moving on to the next cupcake. This all sounds very x-rated, I know. But it works.
  4. Using the same number 230 frosting tip (washed and cleaned of course), set up a pastry bag and fill with the cooled strawberry filling. Fill each cupcake to the top without spilling over.

Lemon-Strawberry Frosting Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries, stems removed
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) of  butter, room temp
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Lemon-Strawberry Frosting Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan combine the water, chopped strawberries, and lemon juice. Simmer over medium heat until the strawberries boil down to a syrup (about 10-15 minutes. Stir often. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. While the strawberries cook, sift the powdered sugar into a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and a separate bowl, cream together the butter and shortening. Beat in the salt, vanilla, and lemon extract.
  3. Beat in the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, scraping the sides often with a rubber spatula. Once all the powdered sugar is mixed in, the frosting will be dry. Mix in the strawberry syrup and beat well until all the liquid is absorbed. The frosting will be ready when it is creamy and smooth yet sticks well to the whisk attachment.
  4. Using a number 826 frosting tip, set up a pastry bag and fill 2/3rds full with frosting. Apply gentle pressure from the top of the bag start frosting in the center of each cupcake. From the center, move to the edge closest to you then around the cupcake finishing back in the center. Top each frosted cupcake with a sprinkle of lemon zest if desired.

 

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