I like to tinker with food. I have a terrifically hard time simply following a recipe without changing it in some way. (Which makes me laugh a little that I am sharing my recipes with you. But don’t worry, I won’t be offended if you change things up a bit too.) When I land on a recipe that I like, my mind immediately starts working on finding more uses for that recipe. How else can I use that xyz – what else would make a good pairing?
This was the case with that mascarpone frosting I made for my husband's birthday cake. It was a new frosting for me and it turned out so much better than I anticipated that I knew I had to find another use for it. In the Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum (highly recommended cookbook and the inspiration for the mascarpone frosting) she mentioned using that particular frosting with strawberries. Sounded pretty perfect to me. So when an opportunity came up for me to make some strawberry filled mini cupcakes for my friend's baby shower – well, I knew I just had to try it. Match made in cupcake heaven.
The strawberry filling is pretty easy to make. I like to use frozen strawberries for the filling - it saves prep time (as long as you remember to defrost them the night before or so) and the berries are frozen at the peak of freshness. This filling is also a good excuse for me to use my stick blender. ;)
The filling recipe makes more filling than you will need for 2 dozen mini-cupcakes. Having extra strawberry sauce around is usually not a problem in my house. I picked up a few of these squeeze bottles for a dollar or so each. They came with the little caps - which is really brilliant.
The filling will last about a week in the fridge, maybe a bit more and the squeeze bottle makes quick work of filling the cupcakes. I made the holes with a wooden spoon handle.
The hardest part about making the frosting is all the beating you need to do. It feels like you should be done in a couple of minutes - the frosting teases you a bit and it seems to come together and then - not. But if you are persistent and just keep going, the frosting will eventually come together. A piping bag makes quick work of frosting the cupcakes. I used a Wilton #32 tip for these guys. After I frosted them I thought they needed a little something so I swirled a little of the strawberry sauce/filling on top.
A cut strawberry on top completes the look. Yum, right?
These little babies are gorgeous, easy to make, and have just the right amount of tart to sweet ratio. I made two different kinds of cupcakes for the party and I honestly thought that the chocolate raspberry cupcakes were going to be the star attraction – but the sister strawberry version stole the show.
I forgot to take a shot with them cut open this time - so here is a picture from a previous time. That time I cut the strawberries like butterflies. It was pretty cute.
This is a small recipe. I scaled it down so that I was only making the two dozen mini-cupcakes I needed.It takes a bit of vigilance to make sure that everything gets mixed in and nothing gets left at the bottom of the bowl. If you wanted to make four dozen, it is easily doubled.
Strawberry-filled vanilla mini-cupcakes
Vanilla mini-cupcakes, filled with strawberry sauce and topped with mascarpone frosting and a fresh strawberry. Makes 2 dozen.
- 132 grams (about 1 cup, 3 Tbsp) cake flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 10 ounces Frozen strawberries
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh squeezed, about half a lemon)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon (pinch) salt
- 1 cup mascarpone
- 42 grams (2 tablespoons) honey
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste (or half a vanilla bean)
- 1/3 cup heavy cream (room temp)
- 1/8 teaspoon (pinch) fine sea salt
To make the cupcakes:Preheat oven to 350°F. Prep a 2 dozen mini cupcake pan with mini-cupcake liners.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk a turn or two to combine. In a large bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until pale and fluffy. (I like to start with the butter solo first and then add sugar.) Add the vanilla and beat to combine. Add the egg, beating well and scraping down the bowl to make sure everything gets fully mixed.
Switch the mixer to low speed. Add half of the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour and mix until just combined. Careful not to overmix.
Dish the batter into the prepared cupcake pan, fill each cup about 3/4 full. (I find a #60 cookie scoop is helpful here.) Bake for 10 to 12 min, until they are golden brown and a cake tester stuck in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then turn out on a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the filling:
Thaw strawberries in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of sugar. (This is best done the night before).
Blend strawberries and sugar with a stick blender (or puree in a blender) until smooth.
Press puree with a spatula through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds.
In a small bowl, make a slurry with the cornstarch, water, and lemon juice.
Heat the puree in a medium pot with 1/4 cup sugar, pinch of salt and cornstarch slurry. Bring to a boil and boil for a few minutes, stirring continously. It will quickly thicken as it boils. Allow mixture to cool. Once cool, spoon mixture into a squeeze bottle.
To make frosting:
In a large, microwave safe bowl - combine mascarpone, honey, vanilla, salt and whisk with a hand mixer until smooth. [Note of caution: the alcohol in vanilla extract could denature the cheese, using a vanilla paste eliminates that problem.]
Gradually beat in the cream. The mixture may curdle at first but continue beating. If it doesn't smooth out within a couple minutes, put the whole bowl in the microwave for 15 seconds and try again. It may take a couple of tries, but it will smooth out and thicken a bit. Beat until you have soft peaks. (It may take a significant amount of - I can't believe I am still beating - beating, but it will smooth out eventually).
To assemble the cupcakes:
Once the cupcakes are completely cool, take the end of a wooden spoon and carefully drill a hole into the center of each cupcake. Be careful not to go all the way through the cupcake, you want to stop just before that point. (Definitely, don't eat any of the crumbs that stick to the spoon - I mean, well, I won't tell if you don't).
Fill each hole with strawberry filling, all the way up to the top. A squeeze bottle is the easiest way I have found to do this, but you could spoon it in if you had to. (Squeeze bottles are like a buck and make it a super fast process).
Top the cupcakes with frosting, some more of the filling and a fresh cut strawberry.