I am going to tell you guys a story. Once upon a time, in a faraway land, lived a baking fairy. Once day, she found herself knee-deep in ripe and overripe strawberries, and she didn't know what to do with them! So, she asked her friends from the magical land of Twitter for help. All of her friends' suggestions were fabulous, and included yummy treats like scones, muffins, and upside-down cake. In the end, the baking fairy had a total lightbulb moment. Strawberries... limes... cupcakes? Strawberry lime cupcakes? And so, a legend was born in the baking fairy's kitchen, and everyone lived happily ever after. The end. :) Lovely story, no? Anyways, going on to my actual blog post... yep, Strawberry Limeade Cupcakes! They sound fabulous, don't they? And they totally were! Refreshing and tasty, and I'm so very proud of them.
I am also really very pleased that I was able to make them pink without any food coloring! Strawberries have a gorgeous color, and I'm happy I got to take advantage of it. To make this masterpiece, I adapted Jessica from How Sweet Eats' Strawberry Cupcakes, and Martha Stewart's amazing Swiss Buttercream Frosting to just my needs... and I have to say I was jumping out of my pants from happiness when both tweaked recipes worked and weren't totally gross! Or, well, gross at all. How exciting for a little baker like myself. :) These treats are delicious and a little bit time consuming, but not hard! I think they're the perfect way to farewell summer and finally kick this heat far, far away. It's September, yet my car still regularly displays 100F+ temperatures... it's driving me crazy! I don't know about y'all, but I am more than ready for jeans-and-sweater weather, warm cinnamon and pumpkin in my kitchen, and for my car to not feel like a microwave every time I get in it. Please.
Strawberry Limeade Cupcakes
Adapted from How Sweet Eats
Yields: about 16 cupcakes
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 heaping cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup grated strawberries (seriously, I just grated them with a regular ol' cheese grater and they got really finely chopped and juicy and stuff!)
juice of 1 1/2 limes
zest of 1 lime
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a couple of muffin tins with liners, set aside.
In a large measuring cup, grate the strawberries (I'm serious), keeping all the juice and pulp, then add in the lime juice. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until really light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, then add in the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder) with the mixer on low speed. Lastly, add in the strawberry and lime mixture! If it seems too mushy, you can add in a tablespoon or two of flour. Mix until well blended, then stir in the lime zest. Grab your prepared muffin pan and fill each cup about 2/3 full; bake for 20-25 minutes, then let cool completely before frosting.
Lime Swiss Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cooking School
Yields: about 3 cups of frosting, more than enough for all the cupcakes!
3/4 cups white sugar
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
dash of cream of tartar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and at room temp
juice of 1 lime
zest of 1 lime
powdered sugar (as needed, if needed!)
optional: yellow and green food coloring, red sprinkles and small lime wedges for decorating
Bring a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of water to a simmer. Meanwhile, combine sugar, egg whites, and salt in a large heatproof mixing bowl (I usually just use my KitchenAid bowl). Set bowl over the pot of simmering water, and whisk until whites are warm to the touch and sugar is dissolved, 2-3 minutes. Test by rubbing the syrup between your fingers, if you can't feel any sugar granules, it's ready.
Attach the bowl to a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, and beat on low speed until foamy. Add in the cream of tartar, and beat on medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, and the mixture is cooled completely.
Reduce speed to medium-low; add butter in a couple of tablespoons at a time, waiting until one is completely incorporated before adding another. If the mixture appears curdled at this point, it's totally normal! Keep beating and adding butter and it will become smooth again. After all the butter is in, add your lime juice and lime zest (if using). Now, if the icing becomes curdled at this point, add in powdered sugar to soak up some lime juice a little at a time, until the icing is no longer watery-looking and can hold relatively stiff peaks. If desired, add in some food coloring to emphasize the fact the icing is lime. I used one toothpickful of Wilton's Lemon Yellow and a toothpickful of Kelly Green, and that was enough to create a pale lime green.
Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, frost as desired, then top with red sprinkles and a little wedge of lime. Then, eat promptly. :) If not using immediately or very soon after, store the cupcakes in the fridge. The icing gets pretty hard, so take out of the fridge 10-15 minutes before you plan to serve, or just microwave one for about 10 seconds... it makes the icing a perfectly soft and smooth consistency. :)