Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Berry Filled Celebration Cupcakes

Carolyn and I made these a while back when she was visiting us in LA.  Even though we made these for my friend Becky's birthday, we thought these would be perfect for a Valentine's Day post!  The surprise mixed berry center provides a slightly tart counterpoint to the sweeter buttercream frosting. We topped them off with coconut flakes as they nicely cover any imperfections in the frosting, leaving a perfect looking cupcake.

While out shopping for ingredients for these cupcakes, we found out that silver dragees (i.e. those pretty shiny little silver balls that are used to decorate cakes/cookies) were made illegal in California a few years ago.  We found a great silver crisped rice substitute at a cake supply shop (for those in LA, we went to Gloria's in Culver City). 

While most of our recipes are super straightforward, we first attempted to make these cupcakes with an Italian meringue buttercream frosting (similar to what we used for our Ombre Almond Cupcakes).  We don't know if it was our eggs or the temperature in the kitchen or our thermometer, but our baking luck was certainly lacking that day.  Instead of a light, fluffy buttercream, we were left with a soupy, curdled, lumpy mess on not only one but on TWO attempts.   We then scrapped that recipe, and went with an old tried and true favorite, a classic buttercream, and ended up with a deliciously moist cupcake!  


Vanilla Cupcakes with Mixed Berry Filling and Coconut Flakes
Adapted from here

Vanilla Cupcakes
1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Mixed Berry Filling
2 cups frozen mixed berries 
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch

Basic Vanilla Buttercream
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 
6 cups confectioners' sugar 
1/2 cup milk 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2-3 cups coconut flakes
Sprinkles or dragees

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour. 

In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. 

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes. 

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. 

For the berry filling, combine the frozen berries, sugar, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a small saucepan.  Place over medium heat until boiling, stirring occasionally.  Add additional cornstarch if necessary for thicker filling.   Set aside to cool.

For the vanilla buttercream, place the butter, confectioner's sugar, milk, and vanilla in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment.  Mix until light and fluffy.
  Once cupcakes and berry filling have cooled, use a small knife to cut a hole in each cupcake in the shape of an upside down cone.  Set aside the cupcake piece that was cut out.  Place a dollop of berry filling in the hole.  Cut the tip off the cupcake piece, and place back on the cupcake to cover the filling.   Use an offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Cover with coconut flakes.  Decorate with sprinkles or dragees if desired. 

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