Friday, March 28, 2008

Strawberry cupcakes

I remember reading "Like Water For Chocolate" a few years ago, and being amused by the very literal ties between food and emotions. One particular chapter that stuck out in my mind. The female protagonist was heartbroken because she was deeply in love with a man who, due to complex circumstances, ended up marrying her sister instead. At the wedding, she baked the cake for the couple and cried into the batter as she was stirring it. When the guests ate it, they all ended up violently ill because they could taste her endless sorrow. Or at least, that's how I remember it.

In that case, one could describe last week's lemon cupcakes with strawberry frosting as filled with excitement, with a strong taste of wonder, and a tinge of nostalgia. (Or you could simply say they were lemony and refreshing with the lemon tint running in both the cake and the frosting.) It seems that this lowly Peter Parker is leaving the Daily Bugle for greener pastures. That's right -- I got a new day job.

I shant get into the details, because I'm sure there will be plenty once I get myself together and relocate to the west coast. For now, there are the baked goods.

Over the last several days, I made two batches of cupcakes -- one with my family, and one by myself. The ones shown in the adjoining photos are strawberry cupcakes with strawberry frosting. Unfortunately, I cannot include the recipe for the frosting because it was a concoction of my mom and sister's cooperative efforts. I do know that they used a combination of fresh strawberries, strawberry sauce (whose recipe I have temporarily lost), cream cheese, and lemon zest. When I get more information about it, I'll post it.

The strawberry cupcakes were nice and light-tasting, and surprisingly fruity (I've often found that many fruit-flavored cupcakes leave something to be desired in their resemblance to the star ingredient). The recipe can be found here. My notes are as follows:

- We used approximately 1 1/2 cups of chopped fresh strawberries instead of just 1. It didn't change the consistency of the batter too significantly, and the resulting cake was that much more flavorful for it.
- Our strawberries were extremely ripe, which was extremely convenient (though it meant that prep took longer, as we kept eating them). Many recipes will tell you to adjust the sugar according to the ripeness of the fruit, but most cupcake recipes have adequate sugar to prevent the cake from being sour, and I don't like to add too much extra sugar. So be light-handed with it.
- It is my personal belief that all fruit cakes taste better when paired with a citrus zest or taste of some sort. Keep that in mind when making your frosting choice!
- These cupcakes also tasted great when eaten plain, which is nice. They seem like a great spring/summer dessert, and are best when topped with a few slices of fresh strawberry (the tartness is key).

I also made another batch of cupcakes to use up the rest of the frosting. The resulting lemon cupcakes were satisfyingly citrus-y, and paired well with the milder strawberry flavor. The recipe is here. I don't have many notes on these because everything came out well!

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