Hey Everyone! I hope you’ve all been having a good summer! It’s been a good one here so far, one with the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen! I love summer sunsets, when the sky turns candy colored shades of pink and fiery reds and golds all within minutes, until the sun suddenly disappears like the curtain dropping on a dramatic performance. The other night, my husband and I took a little drive down some country roads (which there are not many of here in the DC area) and somehow wound up in a little town down by the Chesapeake Bay. Everybody seemed to be walking to a small park by the water, so we got out of our car and followed them, as you do when you see a random crowd of people forming! It turns out that everyone was going out to see the 4th of July fireworks, so we got out of the car, sat in the grass by the water, and waited. During this holiday, you see so much patriotism, from commercial flagpoles outside stores flying the flag, to small flags outside the home, everyone comes together to celebrate our independence. All of a sudden the sun started setting and the sky turned the sweetest shades of pink, getting more saturated by the second, its bright colors reflecting in the water. It was the most beautiful sunset (scroll down to see a picture!) and the cheesy metaphor is that sometimes in life, without even planning it, and while driving around seemingly aimlessly, you stumble upon the best, most beautiful surprises. I hope your summer is filled with these moments, with beautiful sunsets, and, with delicious summer desserts obviously, which is what I wanted to tell you about today – these cupcakes!
CUPCAKES WITH FRESH STRAWBERRY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
I used Ina Garten’s “Flower Cupcakes” recipe (I halved her recipe and got 18 cupcakes). This is a great recipe – the cupcakes are a little more dense and are not overly sweet, but still very rich in flavor! The recipe is very similar to Ina’s basic sheet cake recipe she uses for her Flag Cake, and I’m pretty sure it’s all the butter, eggs and sour cream that make these cupcakes so rich and delicious!
Fresh Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
(Recipe adapted from Country Living)
YOU WILL NEED
12oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 – 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
About 1 cup of fresh strawberries plus extra for decorating cupcakes
- Once your cupcakes are baked and cooled (make sure they are completely cool before you put the frosting on), prepare your frosting. (I loosely followed this recipe from Country Living, but made several adjustments.) First make your fresh strawberry puree. To do that, puree about a cup of strawberries in a blender, then pour the pureed strawberries through a sieve to get rid of the seeds (otherwise you’ll end up with seeds in your frosting), then set aside.
- Next, in your electric mixer bowl, cream together the softened cream cheese and softened butter until blended and soft and fluffy. Then, begin adding in your confectioners’ sugar, about a cup at a time (the recipe called for 4 cups of sugar, I used about 3 cups in total) until the frosting is thick enough to pipe onto your cupcakes.
- When you have your desired frosting thickness, add in the vanilla extract and about 4 – 5 tbs of the strawberry puree you made earlier (add in more/less depending on your taste). Mix until the frosting is smooth and turns pale pink, if it feels too thin add in a little more confectioners’ sugar to thicken it up. I refrigerated mine for about 30 minutes (in an airtight bag) because it’s easier to work with when it’s chilled.
- Now comes the fun part… decorating the cupcakes! Cut some additional smaller strawberries in half to decorate the tops of your cupcakes and set them aside. Then, fill a piping bag (that has a large tip attached to it) with the frosting, and pipe it onto the tops. The frosting should be thick enough to hold its shape and hold the strawberry in the middle!
These cupcakes are such a quick and easy summer dessert! If you’re in a hurry you could of course just use a box mix to make the cupcakes, but the frosting is definitely worth making with the fresh strawberries… it doesn’t have that artificial taste and color, and is so simple & quick to make!
The sunset I was talking about (above)! I hope you all have a great week, happy summer and happy baking! Thanks so much for stopping by today!