Author Abby Dodge writes:
When I wrote The Weekend Baker, I included a recipe for Emergency Chocolate Cupcakes, which can be whipped up from on-hand ingredients in the time it takes for the oven to heat. Perfect for last-minute desserts yet still from-scratch delicious, these have long been a reader favorite. In this yellow cake version, I call for butter because I prefer the flavor it packs, but you could use a mild, flavorless oil, like canola or vegetable, too. Make sure your oil is fresh and doesn’t smell “off” or rancid—the cupcakes’ flavor would suffer.
Almost-Instant Yellow Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Frosting
Featured Recipe From: Mini Treats & Hand-Held Sweets: 100 Delicious Desserts to Pick Up & Eat
Yield: Makes 12 cupcakes
For the condensed strawberry purée
- 1 pound fresh strawberries, rinsed, dried, and stemmed
For the cupcakes
- 1 1⁄4 cups (51⁄2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon table salt
- 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
- 1⁄2 cup water
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 yolk from a large egg
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract or paste
For the frosting
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1⁄2 cup mascarpone
- 3⁄4 cup (3 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of table salt
- 12 small fresh strawberries, rinsed and dried
Make the Purée
Put the strawberries in a food processor (a blender also works) and whiz until completely smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the purée into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until very thick and reduced to 3⁄4 cup, 18 to 22 minutes. Slide the pan from the heat and let cool completely.
Make the Cupcakes
1. Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and heat oven to 375°F. Line 12 regular-sized (23⁄4-inch diameter) muffin cups with paper or foil liners.
2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until well blended.
3. Put the melted butter, water, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk until well blended. Pour over the dry ingredients and whisk until well blended and smooth, about 1 minute.
4. Portion the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups (3 tablespoons batter per cup will be about two-thirds of the way full). Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 14 to 16 minutes. Move to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan, set them on a wire rack, and let cool completely.
Make the frosting
Put the heavy cream and mascarpone in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment on medium-low speed until well blended and smooth, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on medium-high speed until thick enough to hold firm peaks when the beater is lifted, about 2 minutes. Add 3⁄4 cup of the cooled, reduced strawberry purée and beat on medium until well blended.
A word about the frosting: The base is a combination of lightly sweetened heavy cream and mascarpone (the mascarpone stabilizes the heavy cream so the frosting will keep its shape and not weep like ordinary whipped cream). For a pretty pink color and fresh flavor, I’ve added a reduced strawberry purée. If you want to skip the step of cooking down the purée, use 3⁄4 cup uncooked purée or, instead, use Toasted Walnut Buttercream Frosting (pp. 88–89).
Assemble the cupcakes
Portion the frosting evenly among the cooled cupcakes (about 2 tablespoons per cupcake). Using a small metal spatula, mound and swirl the frosting on top of the cupcakes, leaving a border of cake around each one. Top each cupcake with a small strawberry. Serve immediately or chill for 30 minutes. The cupcakes are best when frosted and eaten the day they’re baked. Serve slightly chilled but not cold.
• Use oil instead of butter: Use 1/3 cup neutral-flavored oil like canola, vegetable, or corn. The flavor won’t be as deep, but the cupcakes will still be delicious.
• Change up the frosting: Instead of topping the cupcakes with strawberry cream frosting, substitute Brown Sugar Whipped Cream Frosting.
• Use a pastry bag for a fancy finish: Fit a large plain tip (I use an Ateco #5) into a pastry bag and fill with the frosting. Evenly pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes, leaving a border of cake around each one.
• The condensed strawberry purée can be made, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days before using.
• The strawberry cream frosting can be made, covered, and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead.
© 2012 Abigail Johnson Dodge
Reprinted with permission from Mini Treats & Hand-Held Sweets: 100 Delicious Desserts to Pick Up and Eat, by Abigail Johnson Dodge (The Taunton Press)