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Valentine's Sweet Heart Cupcakes With Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Valentine's Sweet Heart Cupcakes With Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

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This Valentine's Day I made a tried-and-true chocolate cupcake recipe and made it Valentine's-appropriate by cutting out heart shapes on the top of the cupcakes and frosting them with a delicious strawberry buttercream. I came across this recipe for Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream and I really wanted to try it out. This buttercream is special because it doesn't use strawberry extract or essence but finely-ground freeze-dried strawberries. This gives the buttercream an intense, rich flavor while not being overly sweet. Of course it does take a little more time to make than your regular buttercream, but when the flavor tastes this good, the extra effort is definitely worth it. Servings: 8 jumbo cupcakes & 12 regular sized cupcakes

Ingredients:

Chocolate cupcakes:

3 cups flour 1 & 1/3 cup cocoa 2 & 2/3 cups sugar 2 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp salt 2 eggs 2/3 cup vegetable oil 2 tsp vanilla 1 & 1/3 cup milk 1 & 1/3 cup hot water

Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

1.2 oz packet of freeze-dried strawberries 3 egg whites 1 cup granulated sugar 1 cup unsalted butter, softened

Method:

1.  FOR CUPCAKES: Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit (175 degrees celsius). Fill jumbo cupcake pan and regular cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

2. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together with a whisk. Add eggs, oil, vanilla and milk and mix until combined. Add hot water and mix well, it will be very runny.

3. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Put both pans in the oven and bake the jumbo cupcakes for 35 minutes, the regular cupcakes for 5 minutes less.  Cool completely before cutting out hearts and frosting.

4. FOR STRAWBERRY SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM: Using a food processor, grind the freeze-dried strawberries to a fine powder and set aside.

5. In a large glass or metal bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved. To test, rub the mixture between your thumb and finger: it should not feel grainy. Remove bowl from pot and whip the mixture on high speed until stiff peaks form and it's completely cooled.

6. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the freeze-dried strawberries.

7. ASSEMBLY: Using a serrated knife, carefully cut off the top of the cupcake, using the top of the liner as a guide. Use a small heart cookie cutter to cut out a heart shape. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the cupcake dome. Spread frosting on the cupcake base and place cupcake dome back on cupcake and press down gently.

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