I’m so happy that there are still a few strawberries showing up at my local farmers market. Some fruits have far too short of a season in my opinion, but strawberries seem to stick around for awhile — and sometimes they even save the day. Last Friday night, for instance, I remembered that I’d promised to bring some treats to a Saturday afternoon party. With little time or energy for a grocery store run, I decided I’d use what was in my fridge. Among a few other staples, there was a basket of strawberries, plain Greek yogurt, milk and eggs. To some, this sounds like breakfast fare, but in my mind, these items were clearly waiting to become a dessert. Here’s what I made.
Mini Strawberry Cupcakes (makes about 48 mini cupcakes)
- 1 cup chopped strawberries
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ cup soft butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 and 2/3 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup milk
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 350 F and line mini cupcake pan(s). Rinse, hull, and chop strawberries to make 1 cup diced fruit. Zest and juice a lemon. Reserve the zest; strain and pour 1 tablespoon of the juice over the berries; set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until pale. Add the vanilla, then mix in the eggs one at a time. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt over the butter mixture. Mix until even, gradually adding the yogurt then the milk. Fold in the zest until evenly disbursed, then fold in the lemon-soaked, chopped berries. Fill the lined cupcake pan (for filling mini cupcake pans, I find it easiest to use a pastry bag or plastic bag with the corner cut off, and pipe each cup full of batter, but a spoon also works fine). Bake for 10-12 minutes, until centers test clean with a toothpick.
While my cupcakes cooled, I found myself all out of eggs and unable to make the meringue frosting I’d hoped for, but I did have some whipping cream, and I couldn’t deny that strawberries and cream are always a winning combination. So I made a strawberry whipped cream frosting: Begin by beating 1 cup heavy whipping cream until quite stiff. Meanwhile, mash up 5-7 strawberries with a dash of lemon juice, then strain it for a few minutes. Gently fold 3 tablespoons of the strained berry mixture into the whipped cream. Sift over it: 1/4 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar, depending on desired consistency and sweetness, and beat until even. Keep frosting chilled, and after you have piped it onto the cooled cupcakes, dust them with a little more sifted powdered sugar to prevent frosting from running (it’s quite delicate). Keep refrigerated and eat within 24 hours.
These scrumptious little cupcakes are moist, fruity, and very satisfying despite their petite size. With their fresh strawberries, whipped cream and hint of lemon, they offer a flavor grouping that seems almost universally enjoyed. Indeed, at the party, adults and children alike devoured these bite-sized treats, which not only delivered deliciousness but also a burst of summer amid the bittersweet knowledge that autumn is looming.
Maybe next time… I’ve found that yogurt can add a lovely, moist structure to cakes, which definitely came through in this recipe. I used Fage 0% Greek yogurt, but I think the results would be just as nice with almost any kind. If you want to make larger cupcakes or round cakes in place of mini-size, just be sure to adjust the baking time accordingly. Finally, although whipped cream is wonderful with berries, almost any frosting would do.