Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Healthy Cupcake! Fruit Added!! (Ignore the chocolate - move along)

We had a very strawberry themed weekend - strawberry cookies and strawberry buttercream stuffed chocolate cupcakes. Wait - what? YES. I think the recipe title was Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes - I think that title works.
We were planning to go to our friends' home where we hadn't gotten together for a long time. I figured I'd try a new recipe - that's how I roll... get together with friends? Try a new recipe! I made my standard chocolate cupcakes - which means a boxed mix from Aldi with an added box of dry pudding. That makes the best cupcakes. Hands down. The filling is a strawberry buttercream made with freeze-dried strawberries. That really does make the best strawberry frosting. You don't have the moisture issue from fresh strawberries but you get the flavor. I went to Aldi in search of those freeze dried strawberries and the box where they normally are? Missing. Gone! Must have been restock night. I looked all over - no sign. I ended up near the baby food - yes Aldi has baby food - and found little snack size packages. They were perfect! When I put them in the chopper to pulverize them I scared the entire family - dogs included. Then a magical pink strawberry dust emerged. :) Kind of like kool-aid but better.
The cupcakes turned out well. The buttercream and the ganache together was a lot... a lot of ... heaviness. I ate another one the next day and eaten in little amounts - VERY good. Not sure it's the type of cupcake you cut in half, sandwich and eat all at once. it's a bit sweet and heavy for that. But get your dainty fork out and eat in small bites - yum.
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes
1 box of chocolate cake mix + ingredients on the box
1 box of chocolate pudding mix
Strawberry Frosting
1/2 cup freeze-dried strawberries
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
salt, to taste
Chocolate Ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
one 4-ounce (113g) semi-sweet chocolate bar, coarsely chopped (or chocolate chips)

Bake the chocolate cupcakes. As the cupcakes cool, make the chocolate ganache in step 2. This way the ganache can cool down and thicken as the cupcakes cool down. Saves you time!
Make the ganache as the cupcakes cool: Place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it begins to gently simmer. (Do not let it come to a rapid boil-- that's too hot!) Pour over chocolate and let it sit for 2-3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. Then stir until completely combined and chocolate has melted. Cover and refrigerate until it's thick and a spreadable consistency, about 1-2 hours. You don't want it runny. The longer it's chilled, the thicker it will be.
Make the frosting: Using a blender or food processor, process the freeze-dried strawberries into a powdery crumb. You should have around 1/4 cup. Set aside. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners' sugar, strawberry powder, heavy cream, and vanilla. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. Set aside.
Fill the cupcakes: Using a sharp knife, cut a circle/hole into the center of the cooled cupcakes to create a little pocket about 1 inch deep. The piece you removed will be the shape of a cone. Spoon or pipe frosting inside each carved out cupcake-- use however much frosting will fit. (I use Wilton piping tip #12 to fill cupcakes.) Slice off the pointy end of the "cone" piece of cupcake you removed so that it can fit on top of the filling. Place on top of the filling.
Frost each cupcake with thickened chocolate ganache. I use my small icing spatula. If you'd rather pipe the ganache on top, let the ganache chill in the refrigerator for several more hours, so it will be the thicker consistency to pipe.
Store leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

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