While attempting to dream up new flavors of cupcakes, these ones just got into my head and wouldn’t leave. My roommate Lenny bought a basil plant to put on our windowsill and I really wanted to incorporate some of the fresh basil into a cupcake. For some reason the first thing that popped into my head was to pair it with strawberry and my mind was pretty much set on the combination.
Since strawberry-basil cupcakes were here to stay, I did a little research to see if there were any other ones like this out there. Well it turns out there were lots of basil combinations, but I was turning up dry on the strawberry combo. Which means…drum roll please…I’m putting a unique cupcake out there! I always get excited when I can make a unique cupcake (or at least unique to the internet cupcake). I decided that this one would be a basil cupcake with a strawberry swirl on top and strawberry buttercream frosting. Sounds good, huh? Or at least it doesn’t sound horrible, does it?
For the cupcake base I used a recipe from the Cupcake Project (here) with a few changes made. These cupcakes have wine in them which I’ve tried before but to be honest I’m not that big of a fan of wine cupcakes because when they’re cooked they have a bit of a sour taste to them. Good for some cupcakes but not really what I wanted for these so I just subbed it out for milk (actually soy milk). I also chopped up about 2-3 tablespoons of the basil that I had soaked in the olive oil and put it into the cupcakes.
To actually make these puppies a strawberry-basil cupcake, I made a strawberry sauce to drizzle on top before baked to get a sticky strawberry top. Oh, and I also used the sauce in the frosting for strawberry buttercream. For the sauce take:
1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
From here it’s super easy. I know I say that a lot, but it really is. Just combine everything in a medium sauce pan and stir together until liquidy and boiling. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth and strain through a sieve to get rid of those little strawberry seeds. After filling the cupcake tins with batter I drizzled about a teaspoon on top of the batter and attempted to sort of marble it in. After baking you get a sticky strawberry top on your cupcake.
Let’s move on to the frosting. Once again, I frosted them with a swiss meringue buttercream but added the rest of the strawberry sauce it to make it strawberry buttercream obviously. Anyway, you know how I’ve written a bunch of posts about how I always mess up this frosting. Yup, I messed it up once again…and no, I didn’t use salted butter again. The frosting was looking great right up until I put the strawberry sauce in it. I had made the sauce the night before and refrigerated it. Apparently it was still a bit cold, so when I mixed it into the frosting, the butter got cold and chunked up. I know that sounds kind of gross, but it’s the best way to describe it, there were little pieces of butter in the frosting. I do have to say though that it still tasted good, so I just went with it. I wasn’t about to waste not only the frosting ingredients but the strawberry sauce ingredients too.
So what was the verdict on these cupcakes? Well it was a little mixed. Lenny liked them and my other roommate (for blogging purposes we’re going to call her Susical..don’t ask) said they were good too. I brought them into work and a few people really liked them but others said they wished there was more strawberry in them. I think next time I might do a center with strawberry jam in it.
Overall, they were pretty good. When I ate them they were just out of the refrigerator so it wasn’t as good cold as it would have been at room temperature but I’d do them again as a summer cupcake.
Oh, and on a side note, my adventure into making my own vanilla extract is going very well. I have it hidden away in a dark cabinet but I can’t help looking at it almost everyday. The extract already has a really nice color after a week. Seven more weeks and I’m going to have to make some vanilla cupcakes!