Strawberries and Champagne Cupcakes

I have two main career goals, 1. to be a comedic writer and performer OR 2. to be like a mix of Rachel Ray and Chelsea Handler… like a drunk Martha Stewart. In honor of the second lofty dream, every Thursday is now Thirsty Thursday here. There are no limitations to what this could mean, other than than it includes alcohol.

So, today I bring you Strawberries and Champagne Cupcakes. I adapted some recipes from here and here. I made these for a friend’s 21st birthday party… they were a hit, but it’s not a big deal or anything, whatever.

Strawberries and Champagne Cupcakes
Cake: (Use this recipe or screw it and just use a strawberry cake mix)
1/2 cup fresh strawberries , diced
1/2 cup good Champagne (sweet rose Champagne suggested)
2 1/2 cups flour , sifted
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder , sifted
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. (4 ounces) unsalted butter
4 Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup zero-calorie sweetener (e.g., Splenda)
2 large eggs , at room temperature
2 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract plus seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1 1/4 cups skim milk , at room temperature
Plus:
Red or pink food coloring
Strawberry extract (to taste)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line cupcake pan with 12 baking cups.

Dice up 1/2 cup of fresh strawberries and soak in 1/2 cup of Champagne. Set aside.

Strawberries Soaking in Champagne

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Place the unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Add the sugar; beat on medium speed until well incorporated.

Mix in applesauce slowly.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition.

Combine the vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds and milk in a large liquid measuring cup.

Reduce the speed to low. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then gradually add one-third of the milk mixture, beating until well incorporated. Add another one-third of the flour mixture, followed by one-third of the milk mixture. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the food coloring and as much strawberry extract as you like. Add the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk mixture, and beat just until combined.

Gently fold in the diced Champagne-soaked strawberries, just until incorporated.

Scoop batter into baking cups and bake for 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting 
1 cup plus 1 tbsp. champagne or prosecco
2 sticks of butter softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Plus: Red or pink food coloring

Place 1 cup of champagne in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons. Transfer to a small bowl or condiment cup and allow to cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream softened butter and powdered sugar together. Once the frosting is thick and fluffy, pour in the reduced 2 tbsp. champagne plus 1 tbsp. champagne from the bottle and mix well. Add food coloring.

Pink Frosting

Then frost the cupcakes with one of the pastry bags with an open, round top. I don’t know what it’s called. Use what you want, just put in some effort, okay?


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