Vanilla cupcakes are my litmus test when judging a bakery.
I don’t care how many little cakes are in the case with their saucy little frosting hats, I’m getting a vanilla cupcake, stuffing it in my pie-hole and if it’s good, only then will I proclaim the bakery worthy. And proceed to order 5 other kinds of cakes and cookies, polished off with a bottle of Tums.
I’d make one heck of a food critic.
So, a few weeks ago, I was in Bethesda, Maryland with Mr. Hausfrau when I came across Georgetown Cupcake and THERE WAS NO LINE.
I proceeded to beat Mr. Hausfrau about the arm as I stuttered and puffed and tried to explain to him why I was dragging us suddenly to the other side of the street. Jaywalking, no less.
When we arrived at the door, I was finally able to force out “Cupcakes. They’re famous. Do you want one?”
Would you believe he said no?
Of course you would. Because he’s a boy and boys don’t have hormones that dictate to them MORE SUGAR, MORE FAT, MORE CARBS, NOWNOWNOW.
If it was a roasted turkey leg, he’d have been all over it.
Who puts frosting on a roasted turkey leg?
So, anyway, I went, I ate, and I died.
I’ve had my share of vanilla cupcakes, even “famous” ones like Magnolia and Babycakes NYC but this one took the prize. The cake was tender and light but the frosting was what sugar-crusted dreams are made of. It was so sweet and vanilla-y, creamy, buttery, and downright billowy.
I walked down the street beside Mr. Hausfrau stuffing every last crumb into my mouth, licking the wrapper and my fingertips, moaning in rapture. On one hand, Mr. Hausfrau was pleased that it seemed all he had to do was walk beside me to make me moan. Talk about swagger. On the other hand, I had a big glob of frosting on the tip of my nose, and I think he was embarrassed. I wasn’t. In fact I was happy I had some saved for later.
With the litmus test passed but our feet having taken us too far and too fast down the street to go back to Georgetown Cupcakes to buy more, I decided to recreate the cupcake at home. I come home with steely determination. I googled, I brainstormed, I shopped. And I created my own mouthgasm cupcake, with an ode to Georgetown Cupcakes frosting and a nod to spring.
This cupcake is sweet, tender and buttery, made at least 135 times better with strawberries in the batter and the frosting. Yes, yes, and yes. Because fresh strawberries are local and in season right now. Who am I to fight with the Locavore movement? So go support your closest farmstand, buy a bunch of berries, and make a few cupcakes, okay?
(adapted from Martha Stewart)
1 cup fresh strawberries, pureed and divided
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons reserved strawberry puree
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In the bowl of a food processor, puree the strawberries until no chunks remain. Transfer the pureed strawberries to a small bowl and remove 2 tablespoons of the pureed strawberries to a separate small dish (this will be reserved for the frosting).
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and the bulk of the strawberry puree. Set aside.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until well combined. Add the egg, egg whites, and vanilla. Beat until the mixture is just combined.
Add half of the dry mixture and beat until the batter just starts to come together. Add the milk mixture and beat until the batter just starts to loosen up. Add the remainder of the dry mixture and beat until the mixture is just blended and no streaks of flour remain.
Fill the prepared muffin tins just less than 2/3 full with the batter and bake 25 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack before finishing them with frosting.
For the frosting: Beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time and continue beating. The mixture will be seem very thick but it will loosen as you continue beating. Once all the sugar has been combined, add the strawberry puree, vanilla extract, and almond extract and beat until the frosting is fluffy.Pin It