Strawberry, Meet Basil

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!



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