Strawberry Cupcakes

Last week, I found myself at a crossroads. The details are not important.  How I got there is not particularly important either. Suffice it to say, I was desperately searching for water and headache medicine at a very hoity-toity Whole Foods in Northern California when a thin, cracking tenor voice wavered through the air, “Shoppers, we are pleased to announce that our Farm Fresh Strawberries will be 3 pints for $5, a savings of 50%.”

“Well, by barnacle’s beard,” I thought to myself, “what crappy timing – I can’t lug 3 pints of strawberries around with my all day.” And I moped, hard, even after finding the water and medicine I had come in for. Fortunately for me, once the headache lifted, my common sense returned and I jetted back to the store on my way home and got all the strawberries I could possibly ever want to eat in three days.

Now, this is a food column, so while eating a warm, chocolate covered donut with sliced strawberries and a cup of hot coffee on the side is basically my idea of heaven, I am not going to just leave you with that (though, side bar: seriously try that taste combination out sometime – provided you’re not allergic to any of those foods, you’re going to love it); instead, let’s explore the magical world of strawberry cupcakes.

Here’s a simple math equation to get us started: fruit + cake = winner, winner, dessert for dinner. When you make that fruit a strawberry, it blends the perfect combination of sweet and tart with the luxurious decadence of cake. Nothing can top that (except, literally, you can top it with butter cream frosting).

So what do you need?

2/3 cup strawberries
1 ½ cup flour
1 cup white sugar
1 stick of butter or margarine
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
¼ cup cow/almond/soy/rice milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs or the equivalent in your favorite egg replacer (I’m partial to ¼ cup applesauce per egg)

So now, how does that turn into deliciousness? Get the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin with those adorable paper liners. Or maybe choose ugly paper liners. I will not dictate your aesthetic choices.

Puree the strawberries. It should yield 1/3-1/4 of a cup of strawberry mush. If it doesn’t, fiddle around with some more strawberries until you get the desired amount.  In one bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) and in another mix the wet ingredients (milk, vanilla extract, and strawberry mush).

Then, cream the butter/margarine. Add in the sugar. Once it gets nice and fluffy add some eggs/applesauce/whatever you went with. Add half of the rest of the dry ingredients. When it is mixed, add the entire wet mix, and the rest of the dry. Be careful not to overmix. Add each set of ingredients and mix just enough to get it all nice and mixed.

Pour into the cupcake liners and shove it in an oven with gusto. Let it bake for 22-28 minutes. Once a toothpick comes out clean when stuck in the middle, you know they’re ready to go. Let them cool. Once completely cool, devour them”¦ or frost, whatever, that’s your call.

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