Thursday, November 17, 2011
Strawberry Cardamom Cupcakes
I just love cupcakes. If a cupcake doesn’t make you smile, there might be something wrong with you. Of course, there is such a thing as too many cupcakes; this is where it comes in handy if you can bring cupcakes to work and share them! I’m still a domestic engineer at the moment, but the actual Engineer brought almost four dozen cupcakes to work over three days, so I was happy to try out a recipe to contribute. I made these strawberry cardamom cupcakes from Chow, which were a big hit. I found them awesome myself. The recipe below is for 2 dozen (though I ended up with 22, not 24), and you might have a bit of strawberry sauce left over. Instead of a cream cheese frosting, I tried a vegan alternative found on Must Follow Recipes, and this is actually going to be my go-to “cream cheese” frosting from now on. I threw in a little strawberry sauce for this recipe to make it pretty, but it was darn near perfect as it was!
For the strawberry sauce
¾ lb strawberries, washed, hulled and cut into large dice
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Place strawberries and sugar in a medium, nonreactive saucepan and stir until strawberries are coated in sugar. Mash with a potato masher until about half of the strawberries are completely smashed but some medium-sized chunks remain.
Place the pan over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until bubbles form along the pan’s edge, about 5 minutes. Skim any foam from the surface of the sauce with a spoon and discard. Add lemon zest and juice, stir to combine, and bring to a full boil, cooking until foam coats the surface, about 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and skim and discard the foam. Let the sauce cool to room temperature. Use ¾ cup for the cupcakes, and perhaps up to a few tablespoons for the frosting; if any remains, transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks. It’s very good with pound cake, waffles or vanilla Tofutti (or vegan peanut butter ice cream).
For the cupcakes (about 2 dozen)
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp fine salt
12 Tbsp (1 ½ sticks) margarine, or unsalted butter at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup lactose-free whole milk, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup strawberry sauce (see above)
Heat the oven to 350 °F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line 2 (12-well) muffin pans with paper cupcake liners; set aside.
Place the flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps; set aside.
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until light in color, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light in color and airy, about 3 minutes.
Stop the mixer and scrape down the paddle and the sides of the bowl. On medium speed, add the egg whites 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Next add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
On low speed, slowly add the milk and vanilla and mix until combined (the mixture will look curdled). Add the reserved flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 15 seconds.
Fill each muffin well about three-quarters full. Using a spoon, create a small indentation in the batter by slightly spreading it from the middle out toward the edges. Measure 1 heaping teaspoon of the strawberry sauce and place the back of the teaspoon inside the indentation. Rotate the spoon, letting the sauce slide into the indentation. Repeat in each well.
Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes. Set the pans on wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pans and let cool completely on the wire racks before frosting.
For the frosting
½ cup Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, softened
½ cup dairy-free margarine, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 ½ to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar (the 1 lb package, basically)
a few tablespoons of strawberry sauce (optional; see above) OR a splash of lemon juice
Cream margarine, cream cheese, and vanilla extract together in a large bowl. Slowly mix the confectioners’ sugar into the creamed mixture until the desired consistency/taste and until smooth. Add a few tablespoons of strawberry sauce for color, if desired. You could go with a splash of lemon juice instead, which should help inch you closer to the tart flavor of real cream cheese. Enjoy!