I don’t know about you, but right about now desperation starts to sink in. I shove my winter coats in the back of my closet, start wearing shoes without socks and every morning eye my blender knowing smoothie season is soon upon us. As a native Texan, March on the east coast is especially difficult. Because guess what, it’s still pretty cold. I also start dreaming about summer pie, berries at peak season and hot dogs fresh off the grill. While strawberries are only just starting to turn I literally could not help myself this past weekend. So, I lived out my own Strawberry Shortcake fantasy, and I hope in the coming weeks you will get to as well.
I don’t know what it is about cupcakes but I don’t think there is any dessert cuter. It’s also physically impossible to resist a cupcake, at least as witnessed by my husbands behavior. Also, cupcakes are infinitely easier to eat than a giant slice of cake. ALSO, a cupcake is really only about 1/4 cup of batter, so you honestly shouldn’t even feel guilty eating one. Several people asked me if the frosting was whipped cream, but no. Such is the magic of my swiss meringue buttercream recipe. I really swear by it and don’t ever plan on using any other again.
Side note: Did I just age myself talking about Strawberry Shortcake? You guys know that was a thing right? You know what, I don’t really want to know if you don’t. It just was, trust.
*recipe inspired by Tessa Huff
*I halved the below cupcake and compote recipes to make about 14 cupcakes
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
3 cups cake flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk
Strawberry Vanilla Bean Compote
2 pounds ripe strawberries (halved and quartered)
1 vanilla bean, seeds removed
1/2 cup sugar
Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons large egg whites (about 3 large eggs)
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temp
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
*double the buttercream recipe if making 2 dozen cupcakes
For Garnish – Optional
For the Cupcakes
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake can with cupcake wrappers and set aside.
2. Sift dry ingredients together and set aside
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium high until smooth.
4. Add in the sugar, and continue to mix until light and fluffy- about 5 minutes.
5. Stop mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
6. With the mixer on low, gradually add in the egg yolks and vanilla.
7. Starting and ending with the dry ingredients, carefully mix in the dry ingredients and milk in alternate additions.
8. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Using a mechanical disher or cookie/ice cream scoop, fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way with batter.
9. Bake until done and tops are golden- about 18-20 minutes.
For the Compote
1. Clean and slice strawberries.
2. Over medium heat, place berries and vanilla bean seeds in a large pot.
3. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon or rubber, heat-safe spatula.
4. Once the berries start to break down, add in the sugar.
5. Once the juices begin to boil reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
6. Cool compote before using. It should thicken as it cools.
For the Buttercream
1. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk them together by hand to combine. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place it over medium-high heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water
2. Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it registers 170 degrees on a candy thermometer, or is hot to the touch and no longer feels ‘grainy’. Once hot , carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer.
3. With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8-10 minutes, until it holds medium-stiff peaks. When done, the outside of the mixer bowl should return to room temperature and no residual heat should be escaping the meringue out of the top of the bowl. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle.
4. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, then the vanilla. Once incorporated, turn up the mixer speed to medium high and beat until the buttercream is silky smooth, 3-5 minutes.