What a glorious Independence Day this has turned out to be. I was planning to wax poetic about the meaning of the day, you know, something profound. Just don't have it in me. The deck is calling and I've got a good book loaded on the kindle. Perfect afternoon to not do much of anything.
flag cake. I really wanted to use up the rest of our strawberries from Sakuma Farms.
You really have to get creative after a while when there are only 4 people eating a flat of strawberries.
I realize that I've been on a strawberry kick lately. But in all fairness, the fresh strawberries from Australia that we get in Singapore cost an arm and a leg ($25 Singapore dollars for a pint. I'm not kidding) so we don't eat them. Don't even get me started on California strawberries shipped to Asia in January. Ugh.
Anyway, I was leaning toward strawberry shortcake but wasn't really feeling it. Pie. No, I kinda have to psych myself up for the whole dough rolling thing. Back to strawberry shortcake. Hmmm. How about strawberry shortcake cupcakes? YES!
I started with a vanilla bean cupcake, made a strawberry mousse filling, and a vanilla buttercream frosting. Since I got a late start on this I didn't really have much to decorate them with and really, a vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting looks a little naked. I found a bar of Godiva chocolate with dried strawberry bits in it and poked a small square of it on top. Not the most impressive looking cupcakes but I think they'll work since most of the people who will be eating them are under the age of 17.
I do have to say that they turned out exactly as I wanted, a portable shortcake with a tart sweet strawberry filling. Perfect for eating while watching the fireworks.
Enjoy your 4th of July, there's a chair out back calling my name.
Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
For the Cupcakes:
1 box of white cake mix (use your own favorite recipe if you are judgey about these sorts of things)
1 cup of water
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 vanilla bean halved and scraped
3 egg whites
For the Filling:
2 pints of ripe strawberries hulled and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1 packet of unflavored gelatin
For the Frosting:
1 cup milk
5 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper baking cups in muffin tin.
For the Cupcake:
Mix together the cake mix, water, oil, sour cream, scraped seeds from vanilla bean, and egg whites. Beat well until smooth and creamy. Fill each baking cup 2/3 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven when slightly golden and the tops spring back when lightly touched. Set aside to cool. After 5 minutes remove cupcakes from pan to a baking rack to cool completely.
For the Filling:
While cupcakes are baking slice the strawberries and sprinkle with the sugar. Allow the berries to macerate until they give up some juice. Remove 1/3 cup of juices from the strawberries and sprinkle the gelatin over the juice. Set the gelatin and strawberry juice aside for about 5 minutes allowing the gelatin to bloom. Place the bowl with the gelatin in a small pan of simmering water and stir until the gelatin melts and the mixture is smooth, immediately remove the gelatin from the heat. Meanwhile, puree the berries then mix with the gelatin. (I left the berries a little chunky). Set aside the gelatin and berry mixture to allow it to cool and thicken a bit. In a medium size mixing bowl beat the whipping cream to stiff peaks. Gently fold the berry mixture into the whipped cream and then refrigerate until firm. About one hour.
For the Frosting:
In a small saucepan combine the milk and flour. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until the mixture becomes a thick paste. Remove the paste to a small bowl and refrigerate until very cold. Once the mixture is well chilled beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. You want all the sugar to be dissolved. Test for any graininess, if you feel sugar granules keep beating. Once the butter and sugar are creamed add the flour mixture one heaping tablespoon at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and incorporate well. Set frosting aside. Do not refrigerate.
Using a sharp paring knife remove a fairly large cone shaped piece of cake from the top of each cupcake. Gently turn each cone piece on it's side and slice off most of the cake leaving a small lid of cake that you will use to cover the filling.
Fill the cupcakes with a heaping teaspoon of the strawberry mousse and top each cupcake with the pared piece of cake.