Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Strawberry-Lemonade Babycakes

I’m a fanatic when it comes to cupcakes. The reason being that I cannot make a layer cake. Well, I can make the cake, but it never lays flat and the frosting never looks like the magazine or cookbook picture. In fact, they end up looking like a five-year-old made them. So I gave up long ago and switched to cupcakes, which are easier to share with others anyway.

My latest creation is a strawberry-lemonade cupcake, which I made for a baby shower, and appropriately called “Babycakes.” These little mini-cupcakes are bold in flavor, not too sweet, and adorable as all get-out.

The idea was born out of the fact that the impending arrival will be a girl and I wanted pink cupcakes. Not just tinted white cupcakes, but something pink in flavor. And because my new favorite frosting is lemon meringue, I paired the lemon with strawberry for a refreshing spring-like melding of flavors.

I started with a box mix for strawberry cake. Now I know some of you may be purists and make your cake from scratch—and I do, too, sometimes—but cake mixes are quick, easy and have a good consistency for the small cupcakes. I buy the box mixes on sale for under $1, which leaves no guilt when I want to try out mixing in different flavors.  But, I digress…..

I started with the box mix, which required oil, eggs and water. I substituted ½ cup frozen lemonade for ½ cup of the water and added in an additional tablespoon of strawberry extract, as I wanted the flavor to pop and not be overwhelmed by lemon. The mix made 48 mini cupcakes and three 4-inch layers (one for tasting and two to make a daddy-to-be cake—which turned out slightly better than a five-year-old’s attempt).

Once the cupcakes had cooled I piped homemade lemon curd into the centers for a surprise treat. Because I have two lemon trees, I regularly can lemon curd. You can, of course, skip this step or use store-bought.

Then I made the lemon meringue frosting. (Recipe here.)  What I like about the frosting is that it only takes ¾ cup of sugar, is very light, holds up to piping or creative decorating with the back of a spoon, and tastes divine. Much better than a cream cheese-based or buttercream frosting. I even added a little pink gel color to match the cupcakes and piped it on with a star tip.

To top off the little gems, I used miniature rattles, safety pins and pacifiers. If you would prefer, you can buy miniature candy ducks or other edible decoration and avoid the hassle and waste of the plastic versions. But they just looked so darn cute. And, they tasted great.  

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