I’ve become my mother. This isn’t the first time I’m having this epiphany, there are moments every day that something comes out of my mouth or when I go into my daughter’s room at 10:00 every night with Eric to cuddle with Anna even though she’s fast asleep….that I realize the inevitable has happened. I have become her. I talk like her, I gesture like her, I think a lot like her, and I’m raising Anna a lot of the same way she raised me and my two siblings. And if I’m honest (can’t believe I’m saying this on here!)…..it’s an honor when people compare me to her. (I’ll never live that one down). So what does this have to do with these cupcakes? These cupcakes have been a full week in the making. I have had some requests for bridal showers and bachelorette parties and wanted to come up with a cupcake that was worthy of special celebrations. What better combination could there be for such an occasion than strawberries and champagne? I found a recipe from one of my favorite food blogs and went to work, it seemed a simple recipe and pretty much a slam dunk as far as I was concerned. What I ended up with was a series of trial cupcakes until I found the perfect one. I didn’t intend to make six dozen cupcakes but once I got started, I couldn’t stop until I had perfected this recipe. I started with mini cupcakes as I often send my “work” with Eric to have his co-workers sample and report back and I thought making 48 minis would be better than 12 standard cupcakes. I dumped the ingredients in the bowl, whipped the batter together, and popped the muffin pans in the oven. When I stopped to look at what I was doing, I noticed that the brand new bag of flour I had just opened said “self rising” on it. Shoot! I have never used self rising flour and I wasn’t sure what would happen to the cupcakes, but they were already in the oven so I just waited to see the finished product, and to my surprise… it looked like it made not a bit of difference! But the cupcakes weren’t quite as pink as I thought they would be and before I knew it, an experiment was in progress. My mother, who’s first degree is in food science or something like that, is always curious about what happens if you change something to a recipe. Actually, it’s pretty common for her to just substitute half the recipe for different ingredients because she never checked her cupboards to see if she had everything before starting to cook. I could hear her saying “what difference does it make?” I couldn’t help but want to see the difference between using self rising flour and all purpose flour. So I whipped up another batch using the “right” flour…..and…….well take a look for yourself. Can you tell which ones have the self rising flour in them?
Not so much, right? The ones on the left have self rising flour in them, the ones of the right have all purpose flour in them. Besides a slight difference in how “puffy” the tops of the cupcakes are, there isn’t a lot of difference, and there wasn’t much difference in the taste either. Ok then, fun experiment over. The cupcakes were so good,I could taste both strawberry and champagne, yum! Now onto the frosting. While the cake recipe uses champagne right out of the bottle, the frosting uses reduced champagne. I’ve never cooked champagne or “reduced” much of anything so this was new to me. You start with 1 cup of champagne in a pot on the stove and simply boil it until there are about 2-3 tablespoons left. Easy enough, and it was.
The frosting turned out perfect the very first time, fluffy and white with the perfect amount of champagne flavoring, I ate a couple spoonfuls right out of the bowl. I topped the mini cupcakes with the champagne frosting and squealed a little bit with excitement before popping one in my mouth….only to be disappointed. Once topped with the frosting, I couldn’t taste any strawberry. What I had was a really yummy, moist cupcake that tasted more like banana with champagne frosting.
Onto another experiment. Take three, I cooked the strawberries before pureeing and increased the amount of strawberry to 1/2 cup from 1/3 cup. No change…. at all. So take four I used uncooked strawberry puree and doubled the amount of the original recipe to 2/3 cups. Still not really getting strawberry flavor and the more puree you use in the cake batter, the heavier and more dense the cupcake becomes. So I finally resorted to whipping strawberry puree into the champagne buttercream icing and voila! We’re close now!
So, onto the final batch. That’s right…five. My little “research and development” initiative was getting pricey. I decided to use strawberry champagne for the final batch, backed off the strawberry puree in the cake batter to keep a lighter texture, and whipped both the strawberry champagne (reduced) and strawberry puree into the frosting. This my friends, was perfection. I piped the frosting onto cooled cupcakes, dropped some pearl dragees on top and boxed them up for a friend. Ok, I made a couple extra and ate them.
Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes by loveandoliveoil.com
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup strawberry champagne
1/3 cup strawberry puree
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup strawberry champagne
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons strawberry puree
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, champagne, strawberry puree, sugar, vanilla, and oil. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until relatively smooth. Fill cupcake liners with a scant 1/4 cup of batter (cups should be just under 2/3 of the way full). Bake for 18-22 minutes or until set, and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
Bring champagne to a simmer in a small saucepan. Continue to boil gently until only 2-3 tablespoons of liquid remain. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
For frosting, cream butter in electric mixer for 1-2 minutes until fluffy. Slowly add 1 cup sugar and beat until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons reduced champagne and mix. Continue to add confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until light and fluffy. Add strawberry puree a tablespoon at a time until well combined and the frosting is fluffy. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.