I have mixed feelings about this one.  If you read my “About Me” section, you’ll know that I’m a bit a self-conscious baker…and I’m really hard on myself when I fail to impress, I take it very hard.  I have to come to the realization, that like all things in life, the outcome of our work can in fact be disappointing.  I know, I know…I’m talking about cupcakes.  But Mike will attest to this, if I make something I don’t like, I toss. I won’t serve it to a soul.

First off, let me just say that if you like out of the norm cupcakes, you will definitely like these.  The cupcake itself is great–perfectly tangy and lemony as promised.  The frosting is equally as good–very fragrant and creamy and you get the strawberry dead on.  Putting them together?  Well, to each their own.  These cupcakes got polarized reviews.  Mike loved them.  He found these cupcakes to be light and refreshing–he had 4 cupcakes in the first 2 days.  I brought them into work and the reviews were not so great.  While they liked the cupcake itself, they weren’t too fond of the combination.  One person said these cupcakes were simply “too complicated.”

Look how beautiful the fresh strawberries are in the cupcake!

D’oh.

I was hoping to serve these cupcakes to Test Group 2 during game night this weekend, but had a family emergency Friday night (all is well now, thank you).

So, let me give my honest review on this cupcake.  The cupcake is really moist and flavorful.  I love strawberry cream cheese frosting, so there you go.  I really do like this cupcake.  I think it’s refreshing and I think it’s fun.  But here’s the catch–I don’t know if I’d make this again.  Why?  Because it’s really not the kind of cupcake you can serve to a group and have it be a runaway hit.  I think you’re just going to have some people love them, some who are indifferent, and some who are just thrown off by the unique pairing of the flavors.  So, if you’re going to have an adventurous bunch over, by all means give it a shot.  These cupcakes are certainly fun and visually beautiful.  Just have a back-up dessert just in case 🙂

That or pair the cupcake with a simpler frosting.

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Yields about 24 cupcakes

For the cake:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
3 tsp. lemon zest
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup whole  milk
2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped

For the lemonade syrup:
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the frosting:
3/4 cup fresh strawberries, roughly chopped
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2  cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line muffin pans with paper liners.  In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.  Whisk together and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until it is light and fluffy.  Add the sugar and beat until well combined.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl and beat on low speed until just incorporated.  Add in the milk and vanilla and mix until smooth.  Add in the remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed until just blended.  Fold in the fresh strawberries with a spatula.

Divide the batter evenly between the paper liners, filling them about 3/4 full.  Bake about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, whisk together the lemonade juice and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl to make the lemonade syrup.  Poke several holes in the top of each cupcake with a skewer and brush the syrup over the cupcakes, allowing it to soak in.  I got a bit lazy in the end and just spooned the syrup onto the cupcakes.  It works, it’s just messy.

To make the frosting, puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender.  Beat the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.  Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.  Mix in strawberry puree, a little bit, until you achieve your desired texture and flavor of frosting. I added about 7-8 tablespoons.   You want to make sure that you don’t add so much that it’s runny.  As it was, it was still a tad runny and I had to refrigerate it before frosting.  Frost cupcakes as desired and garnish.

Adapted from Annie’s Eats
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