Baking & cooking with an enthusiastic amateur
I originally set out to make lemon cupcakes filled with strawberry puree. My Better Homes & Gardens cookbook had a yellow cake recipe and a white cake recipe, neither of which was quite what I was looking for. The white cake recipe called for buttermilk, which I didn’t have, and the yellow cake recipe had proportions that weren’t easy to cut down. I went through both of them, trying to figure out the ratios of ingredients, and came up with a small, hybrid recipe for just six cupcakes.
Sadly, I realized after I started baking that I didn’t have a lemon, which meant no candied lemon peel to go on top. I still wanted to use lemon extract though, and decided to use a mere 1/8 tsp to avoid an overpowering lemon flavor. It resulted in only a hint of lemon flavor in the finished product, but that let the strawberry puree inside shine!
I tried to make a white chocolate ganache drizzle to go with these, but my ratio of 1/2 cup white chocolate chips to 1/3 heavy cream yielded a very thin, runny result. I drizzled some on anyway; it still tasted good! However, it does remind me that I can’t get too cocky about improvising recipes. Next time I try to make ganache, I will find a good recipe and follow it closely, to figure out how to make it properly! As such, I have not included the white chocolate drizzle in the recipe below.
While these cupcakes weren’t, to be perfectly honest, The Best Cupcakes Ever, I found them as tasty as any boxed mix, and certainly cheaper than that! Besides, making them homemade means I can use any flavorings I want in them, giving me the opportunity to try out the handful of extracts I’ve collected.
As a final note, you may notice that the calories in these cupcakes seem fairly low. If you’re me, this means your first reaction is, “Oh sweet – only 123 calories each? That means I can eat 3 and call that my dinner without going over my calorie limit for the day!”. Well, as my dad reminded me on the phone today, calories aren’t everything. The nutritional composition of your food is more important than the raw calorie count. I still find them helpful as a guideline, as a way to keep track of what’s going into my body, but they are no replacement for attention to a sensible, varied diet. So, by all means, treat yourself and have a cupcake (or two!), but remember that it lacks the nutrients of, say, a bowl of chili or veggie-filled stir-fry.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
2 tablespoons butter near room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp lemon extract
1 egg white near room temperature
1/3 cup milk (I used 1%)
2 strawberries, pureed
Extra strawberries for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Put six cupcake liners into a cupcake or muffin pan.
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside. In a larger bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter on medium speed for 15 seconds. Add the white sugar and mix well. Pour in the egg white and the lemon extract; again, mix well. Add in the flour mixture and the milk in thirds, alternating and mixing between each. Once all the flour and milk is in, beat on medium speed for two minutes.
Ladle about two-thirds of the batter into the cupcake liners, filling each as equally as possible. Place a dollop of strawberry puree in the middle of each, smoothing it out slightly. Then, top each with the remaining batter, completely covering the puree. Bake for 25 minutes, or until done.
Allow cupcakes to cool. If desired, garnish with more strawberries.
Makes six cupcakes.
Cost per cupcake: $0.31
Calories per cupcake: 123