Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My First Iron Cupcake Challenge

These wonderful little gems have been popping up at our farmer's market the last couple of weeks. Fresh, local, organic strawberries. Strawberries without superfertilizer, pesticides or genetic enhancements. Tiny little bursts of flavor the size of the end of your finger. Not those hulking monsters the size of your fist. Seriously, a handful of these are enough to make you swear off those tasteless 'strawberries' you can buy in December forever.

And what perfect timing for them to appear! I joined the Iron Cupcake Challenge and for the month of June the challenge is Summer Berries. Woo hoo! I cannot tell you how dang excited I am to participate in this challenge! As soon as I read the 'secret ingredient' I knew exactly what I wanted to make. A while back I'd come across a recipe for Balsamic Strawberry ice cream. I couldn't remember where I'd seen the recipe so I just had to wing it on proportions for my cupcakes. For the cupcakes, I macerated the strawberries with some sugar and a dose of white balsamic vinegar and added a large spash of the vinegar to my cream cheese frosting as well. Heaven! I'm really thinking all frosting needs a bit of vinegar! It helped cut the sweetness and added a certain je ne sais quoi to the flavor.

Aren't They Pretty?

For the cupcake batter I turned to one of my favorite cake recipes. It's one of Gesine's at Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker. I *heart* her, her site, her recipes. . . wonderful! You can read her original recipe here. (and I heartily recommend you do, I learned a lot in that one page!)

Balsamic Strawberry Cupcakes
Adapted from Gesine at Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker

1 cup strawberries, crushed (I used a pastry cutter)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350.
Prepare your muffin tin with a spray of Pam and cupcake liners.
In a small bowl, combine the strawberries, 2 teaspoons sugar and vinegar.
In your mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Seriously. For, like, 5 minutes. At least.
Meanwhile, sift the flour, salt and baking powder together.
In another bowl, mix the buttermilk and vanilla.
When the butter/sugar is fluffy, add the eggs one at a time. Scrape the bowl down well. (I do this religiously the entire time I'm mixing. I want EVERYTHING incorporated, not lurking in the shadows waiting to plop, unmixed, into my perfect batter.)
Add about a third of the flour mixture, followed by a third of the buttermilk mixture. Mix until incorporated and scrape the bowl.
Add another third each of the flour and buttermilk, scraping the bowl.
Finish with the last third of flour and the last third of buttermilk. Scrape the bowl down and beat until you're sure it's all incorporated.
Fold in the strawberry mixture.
Spoon into cupcake liners and bake about 15 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed.
Remove from oven and let cool COMPLETELY before frosting.

Balsamic Cream Cheese Frosting

2 sticks of butter, room temperature
4 oz (half a brick) of cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups of SIFTED confectioners sugar
4 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar

Beat the butter and cream cheese until fluffy.
Add the vinegar
Sift in the confectioners sugar and mix slowly so you don't end up in a mushroom cloud of sugar.
Add more sugar as neccessary to achive the consistency of the frosting you prefer.
Pipe onto cupcakes, and enjoy!

Isn't she loverly?

So it works like this: you join the Iron Cupcake Challenge here and bake and blog about your cupcakes before the 24th of the month. The voting goes for 5 days after the baking challenge. Each vote gets your cupcake entered into a drawing for these fabulous prizes. . . .

A groovy linocut piece from Blockhead Press,

A sweet surprise from Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Cupcakery,

An art piece from the fabulous Cakespy, (Seriously, I want that SO BAD!!! I love her!)

A sweet cupcake ID bracelet by Insanejellyfish,

And corporate prize providers:
    HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson,,
    TASTE OF HOME books,;
    a t-shirt from UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM
    Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers, .
    So here is where I beg and grovel. . . you love me, right? You want me to have a Cakespy drawing and a Jessie Steele apron, right? Puuuuuhleeeeeease go vote for me when the time comes??? Please, please, please? Don't worry, I'll remind you! If I do win I promise to have a giveaway where you too could win a fabulous prize! Because I kinda sorta have one of the prizes already. I'm more than happy to share the wealth :)

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    1 comment:

    Little Birdie Secrets said...

    Wow, those are beautiful!! Your frosting is perfect.