We Californians are definitely spoiled, from the beautiful weather to the overabundance of delicious fruit and veg. I grew up in the central region of the state, specifically the San Joaquin Valley, and my parents continue to make their home there. On my last two visits I made it a point to stop by the local stand near the house where miles and miles of strawberry fields thrive under the sun. The strawberries are some of the most amazing that I've ever had, as sweet as candy. They're picked daily so you know you're getting the fruit at the height of its deliciousness.
With all this luscious fruit I was looking for a recipe to showcase their wonderful flavor. I remembered seeing a recipe for Strawberry Dream Cake in Cook's Country that would foot the bill. But since I didn't feel like making a layer cake I converted them to cupcakes. I used a different recipe for the frosting than the one included in the cake recipe. I had fantastic results with the Easy Vanilla Frosting in the past so I tweaked it slightly by adding strawberries. AMAZING! It tasted exactly like strawberry ice cream.
Makes about 24 cupcakes.
3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) cake flour
1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-capacity muffin tins with paper liners.
Transfer strawberries to bowl, cover, and microwave until strawberries are soft and have released their juice, about 5 minutes. Place in fine-mesh strainer set over small saucepan. Firmly press fruit dry (juice should measure at least 3/4 cup); reserve strawberry solids. Bring juice to boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and reduced to 1/4 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Whisk milk into juice until combined.
Whisk strawberry milk, egg whites, and vanilla in bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until only pea-size pieces remain, about 1 minute. Add half of milk mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, add remaining milk mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Give batter final stir by hand.
Scrape equal amounts of batter into muffin tins and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Remove cupcakes from tins and cool completely, about 2 hours. (Cooled cupcakes can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.)
Strawberry Vanilla Frosting
24 tablespoons unsalted butter (3 sticks), cut into pieces and softened
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups confectioners' sugar
In an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter, cream, vanilla, and salt on medium-high speed until combined.
Reduce mixer speed to medium-low. With motor running, slowly add confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and beat frosting until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add reserved strawberry solids and continue beating for another 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as necessary. Frost cupcakes using piping bag or offset spatula. Garnish with fresh strawberries if desired.