Pretty in Pink: Home Baked Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcakes

a-pinkI have been into cupcakes lately. And I mean, like, really into it. There is a Sprinkles-like cupcake shop near work that offers one of the best Red Velvet cupcakes (with cream cheese frosting) around and I’ve eaten about six of them just in a mere week! I really don’t know what triggered this new-found addiction (perhaps the trip to Magnolia Bakery?) but my mind is consumed with the images of those lovely, moist cupcakes smothered in ooey gooey frosting every minute, every second. I just can’t get enough.

In all honesty, cupcakes have held sort of the “red headed stepchild” status in my baking repertoire until just recently, and I never really considered them as “real” desserts. I couldn’t figure out what they really were – they weren’t really a cake, but they weren’t muffins either … so what the f#*% were they? Either way, I never considered them more than a confused, mini confection with a dollop of artificially-colored icing and even more unappetizing sprinkles on top. Even my first visit to beloved Sprinkles didn’t impressive me much, but look at me now, I’ll inject a cupcake through an IV if I could.

Maybe my new-found love for cupcakes has something to do with the way those cupcake shops smell when you walk in — you know, these welcoming, comforting aroma, like you just walked into your grandmother’s kitchen? Or maybe it’s the vibrant color of the frosting that reminds you so much of childhood. Cupcakes are like your cute, friendly, bubby, uncomplicated dessert next door that bring a whole lotta fun to bakers and consumers alike. I finally understand the public’s fascination for these pint-size cakes 🙂

It was my mother’s birthday on the 12th, and to celebrate this special day for the most magnificent woman in the world, I decided to bake her cupcakes. I was torn between Magnolia Bakery and Sprinkles but the latter won out when I found the recipe for its Strawberry Cupcakes and Strawberry Frosting. I know how much mom adores strawberry shortcakes (the Japanese-French version with airy sponge cake, fresh strawberries and whipped cream) and I figured this light-pink cupcake is pretty close.

a-pink-2Truth be told, this was my first attempt in making cupcakes – yes, my absolute first. Sure, I’ve participated in bake sales at school in the past but I always resorted to cookies and brownies, and never cupcakes. So I was a little nervous in the beginning but I trusted the recipe to bring me the heavenly result.

I brought out my lovely pink Kitchenaid mixer as my trusted companion and I got busy whipping the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. I added the dry (flour, salt, and baking powder) and the wet ingredients (strawberry puree, milk and vanilla, pictured below) simultaneously, being careful not to over mix.

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Once everything is well incorporated, I poured the batter evenly between 12 cupcakes. You can divided the batter into 8 cupcakes too, if you prefer a slightly larger cupcakes.

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Many (or most) say that the frosting is the best part and while I agree that it’s delicious, it’s the scariest thing … ever. To make enough frosting for a dozen cupcakes, I had to use 2 sticks of butter, as well as 3-1/2 cups of powdered sugar. Okay, my cupcake addiction may come to an end here … just the idea of licking the load of softened butter (afterall, frosting is nothing more than that) gave me nausea!

I though the cupcake came out amazing. The cake was perfectly baked – moist without being too gooey, and not overly sweet (just the way we like it). The cake and the frosting had the prettiest tint of pink but it’s comforting to know that no artificial colorings were used in this. The lovely color came from strawberries.

My mother loved the actual cake so much (but all of us – my mother, father and I – were equally afraid of the frosting so we wiped most of it off the cake) that she suggested using this recipe to make a real cake for the official birthday party this weekend.  Maybe I can make her favorite strawberry shortcake afterall, sandwiching fresh strawberries and whipped cream in these layers.

If you love Sprinkles cupcake or just any cupcake, I recommend this recipe highly. The sweet-and-tangy combination from the strawberry puree will take you back to your sweet, summertime memories of childhood.

Chasing the Flavors of the City: Magnolia Bakery, NYC

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I won’t go so far as to take the Sex and the City bus tour, but I was definitely curious to see some of the memorable locations featured in the show while I was still in New York. (Just like any other red blooded women in the world, I absolutely love the show.  I would have to say that Miranda is my favorite character, although all those silly “which-SATC-character-are-you” quizes I take indicate that I’m more Charlotte … hmmm.) One place in particular that I had to visit was Carrie’s apartment, or the front of the apartment known to fans as Carrie’s Stoop. Although she lived in the Upper East Side on the show, the actual apartment steps are located in Greenwich Village on Perry Street, between West 4th and Bleecker Street. The actual address is 66 Perry.

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Another reason why I wanted to visit the Greenwich Village was to check out the ever-so-popular Magnolia Bakery and try its famous cupcakes. I admit that I’m a total ambulance chaser when it comes to sweets, and ever since I watched Saturday Night Live’s “Chronicle of Narnia” rap, (Lazy Sunday), I had to check this place out and see what the buzz was about with my own eyes.

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The bakery was only a few blocks from Carrie’s Stoop, and as I expected, there was a line about 15 people deep. The place was a lot smaller than I expected but I was able to grab the famous Red Velvet cupcake from the self-serve cupcake section. Since there was no place for me to eat there, I walked over to the little park across the street.

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I really enjoyed the whipped vanilla frosting that was smothered on top of the cake (it was heavenly) but the cupcake itself was a blah. The cake was pretty flavorless and way too dry! Perhaps it was because it had been sitting out for a while (afterall, it was already around 3:00 p.m. when I got there) and it would have probably been so much better earlier in the day, but still, I thought Sprinkles was 100 times better! Nonetheless, I was very happy that I had the chance to take a bite out of the beloved New York landmark.

Magnolia Bakery
401 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10014