Chocolate and strawberries make an excellent pair – especially when you’re talking about chocolate covered strawberries. I switched around the chocolate and strawberries to make these Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream. They’re rich chocolate cupcakes topped off with a creamy frosting made with fresh strawberries that are just starting to come into season.
The chocolate cake is one of my favorite cupcake recipes. The cakes are very moist and tender, with a tight crumb that gives them a velvety mouthfeel. And, of course, they pack in a lot of chocolate flavor. That chocolate flavor comes from a large amount of cocoa powder in the cake, so don’t be alarmed by the large amount of sugar required in the recipe, as it is needed to balance out that unsweetened cocoa. The cupcakes need to be baked and cooled before they can be filled. I always use the cone method for filling cupcakes, where you have to cut a small cone of cake out of each cupcake to create a large cavity that can hold a lot of filling.
For the strawberry buttercream, I simply pureed a bunch of fresh, hulled strawberries in the food processor until the mixture was very smooth. I added it to butter and confectioners’ sugar and beat it until the frosting was thick and fluffy. If you get ripe, flavorful strawberries, you’ll get a dark pink frosting with a great strawberry flavor. You can add a few drops of food coloring to make the color of your frosting a little more distinct, if you prefer. It is used as the filling and the frosting of these cupcakes, adding a bright berry flavor to every bite of chocolate cake.
These are great summertime cupcakes, with great flavor. Serve them plain or garnished with a fresh strawberry. When making the puree for the frosting, be sure to puree some extra berries and you can use that as a base for daiquiris, margaritas or other summery cocktails to serve along with the cake!
Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups water, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and sandy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract.
With the mixer on a low speed, blend in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by half of the water. Add another third of the flour mixture, followed by the rest of the water. Stir in remaining flour mixture just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. The batter should be fairly liquidy.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean and the cakes spring back when lightly pressed.
Turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting and filling.
Makes 18 cupcakes.
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup strawberry puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
a few drops red food coloring (optional)
Combine all ingredients except the sugar in a large bowl and beat until very smooth. Gradually beat in the sugar until the frosting is smooth, thick and fluffy. Add a few drops of food coloring, if desired, to enhance color.
Put about 1/2 of the buttercream into a piping bag or a large ziploc bag with the corner snipped off for filling the cupcakes. Leave the rest in the bowl for frosting.
(A photo how-to of the assembly method can be found here.) Take a cooled cupcake and, using a small pairing knife, cut a cone of cake (1-inch across by 1-inch deep) out of the top. Trim off the pointy end of the cone, leaving a flat circle of cake. Set aside and repeat this process for all the cupcakes.
Take the strawberry frosting set aside in a piping bag and squeeze a tablespoon or so into each cupcake cavity, filling the hole up to the top with filling. Top off with a flat circle of cake to plug the hole and keep the filling in place.
Dollop some more frosting on top of each cupcake and use a small knife or offset spatula to spread it into an even layer.