Strawberry Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

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I’m turning 32 today. Thirty-two. Am I feeling like 32? Probably… yes, I do. For instance, I now embrace a 10:30 bedtime which allows me to get plenty of sleep and renders me fully functional when I wake-up in the morning. I also adore my memory foam pillow, which has become a necessary requirement for a good night’s sleep.

I often write a blog post when it’s my birthday. On this particular one, I find myself on vacation in Washington DC visiting my friend Kristelle. It’s been almost three years (four years for Matthew) since we moved away from DC and this is our first time back visiting. It is pretty difficult to put into words the various things that make me absolutely love DC. It’s a diverse city where people come from various backgrounds, making the District vibrant, dynamic, and ever changing. Each neighborhood has a distinct feel and I miss the ability to walk or use public transportation to get everywhere. In one day of vacation alone, I walked 10 miles in the city. 

If you’ve followed Sweet Precision for a while you might remember my Strawberry Birthday Cake tradition. This year I decided to switch things up a little bit and made birthday cupcakes instead! Let’s talk a little bit about these cupcakes. Are you one of those people who feel like buttercream is too rich and heavy? If so, you’ll love the Swiss-style meringue buttercream that I used for this recipe which is light and delicate. Swiss meringue is prepared by cooking egg whites and sugar together in a bowl placed over a pot of boiling water. The mixture is then removed from the heat and whipped at high speed until it forms stiff peaks and has cooled. After this, room-temperature butter is slowly added into the mixture. Meringue-based buttercreams are light and creamy in texture, which I love. They also don’t ‘crust-over’ as with simple buttercream.

STRAWBERRY

Strawberry Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes approximately 24 cupcakes 

Cupcake Ingredients
1 box white cake mix
1 (6 oz) box strawberry jello
4 eggs
3 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup oil
3/4 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup water

Frosting Ingredients
5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
red food coloring, optional

Directions
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans and set aside.

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix wet ingredients together, including strawberries. Slowly stir wet ingredients in with the dry being careful not to over mix the batter. Pour batter into cupcake tins and bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan and then remove to a baking rack to cool completely before frosting.

For frosting, combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.

With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Pipe or spread frosting onto cupcakes.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Working with meringue buttercream frosting can be tricky. If your frosting is “broken” the fat and liquid won’t emulsify, and you’ll be left with a bowl of fat globules that look like cottage cheese. If this happens to you, first try mixing the frosting a little longer to see if it comes together on its own. If it doesn’t come together with additional mixing, scoop out a cup of curdled mixture and microwave 5 to 10 seconds, until melted but not hot. Pour the melted buttercream into the mixer while on medium speed and whip until combined. This works every time!

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19 thoughts on “Strawberry Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY for the 32nd year, Heather. I do so love this recipe and am glad it has become your birthday…. desert..something fun to look forward to. I am curious about this new frosting you are using. How do you like it? Does it take a little away from the oh so sweet cake that can become a bit much if the piece or pieces are on the big side? I look forward to hearing (and maybe trying) more.

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  2. Happy Birthday Heather and sorry I am a day late with these wishes. I hope you had a lovely day yesterday. I have never made Swiss meringue buttercream so I must put making it on a mental list of thinks I would like to cook. The cupcakes are so pretty, I wish I could reach into my screen and pick one to taste. I hope you had or are still having a great time in Washington with your friend. ;)

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  3. Happy (belated) birthday, dear Heather! 32!!! I’m so jealous! You are such a baby! ;-) Hope your friends threw you a fabulous birthday party and celebrated you the way you sure deserve! :-)
    When I opened your post, I thought your photographs came straight out of a food magazine. They are simply beautiful and your cupcakes so unbelievably gorgeous. The sure deserve a cover page!

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    • Thank you for the birthday wishes Francesca! It was fun being back in a city that we love and visiting with friends that we haven’t seen in a long time. Those pictures have got me wishing that I still had some cupcakes left to munch on at home! I had to purge my kitchen today for fear of eating cupcakes all week long!

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  4. Happy Birthday Heather! I hope you had a wonderful and special day! These cupcakes are so delicious and I love the idea of lightening up the buttercream. What a delicious way to celebrate!

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  5. Happy belated birthday! These cupcakes look like a great way to celebrate. I’m not a big fan of traditional buttercream, so I’d certainly like to try this lighter, Swiss version. Yum!

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    • Thank you for the birthday wishes! You’d absolutely love this type of buttercream! I’m also thinking about trying Italian meringue buttercream which is a little different but is still supposed to be a little lighter. I’ll have to see when I get around to it :)

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  6. Happy birthday Heather! 32 isn’t really that old! You are still closer to thirty than forty :) I can’t believe that I wll be turning 37 next summer, but to tell you the truth I don’t feel like I’m a day older than 26…of course, other’s may have a different opinion :D
    That Swiss meringue buttercream looks like the perfect choice for me, as I’m not really a fan of buttercream. Next time I need a buttercream recipe, I will be trying yours out…it looks so perfectly smooth!

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    • Thank you for the birthday wishes! I agree that age really is a relative thing based more on how WE feel about ourselves. I remember feeling really “adult” when I turned 23 and 24. But truth be told, I’m still quite enjoying the early 30’s!! And yes, definitely give the buttercream a try- it’s a little more work but definitely worth it I think!

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