Strawberry Cupcakey Goodness

So, while at Costco, the cover of the Martha Stewart Living Magazine was screaming at me to pick it up...so I did. The cover was actually a heat made out of multicolored cupcakes. So cute and I had to get it since my sister loves cupcakes and her baby shower is quickly approaching.

I found THE PERFECT strawberry cupcake recipe in it. Like Ina Garten, Martha rarely fails me. Well, I've only used one other recipe from her, but it's my fail-safe go-to easy-peezy meal: Spaghetti w/Brooklyn White Clam Sauce. We've been a huge fan of that dish since she was on Food Network waaaaaaaaay back in the day!

Anyhoo, I'm more of a cook than a baker. I'm still getting the hang of things but getting better. I get a bit nervous baking cakes from scratch but almost never use a box mix...because of the dreaded trans fats! So, after delving into one of these beauties last night (minus the buttercream which I made this morning), I was pleasantly shocked and completely amazed at the fluffy moistness that was very much like a boxed cake mix cake that this cupcake had! DELICIOUS! It could've been a bit more strawberry-er and had more of a strawberry muffin-like taste. Still...paired with a good strawberry buttercream...you can't go wrong!

I've been dying for a great strawberry buttercream. The strawberry buttercream I hold on a frosting pedestal is the strawberry buttercream from
Cake Love. Apparently, Warren Brown, owner of Cake Love, tells you right how to make it here. Surprisingly, out of the gazillion kitchen gadgets & utensils I have...I do not own a candy thermometer! Jaron's birthday is coming up soon...and my little man is going to have a strawberry cake...so we'll have to try Warren's recipe for my all-time favorite strawberry buttercream then!

For this weekend's cupcakes, I took my
usual go-to buttercream recipe and played around with it to get a strawberry buttercream. This was actually possibly my third attempt and it's so cliche, but third time really was a charm!!! If I go back to this buttercream for future strawberry buttercreams, then I will change it to 2 sticks salted butter instead of just one stick salted & one unsalted. It was a tad too sweet and slightly overpowered the delicate cupcake. One plus about the buttercream this time...I found an ORGANIC SHORTENING!!! Yea-uh, Baybee!!! Anyhoo...I added strawberry extract and will NOT be doing that next time, I will add a touch of vanilla and more strawberries. I really was looking for a strong strawberry taste.

Strawberry Cupcakes
Adapted from
Martha Stewart Living
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs plus 1 large egg white
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons strawberry extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups finely chopped strawberries, plus small strawberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Reduce speed to low.

Mix any remaining wet ingredients (in this case the milk & extracts are the wet ingredients) in a bowl if needed. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry. Add chopped strawberries into the batter. Scrape sides of bowl.

Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake cupcakes until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Once cupcakes are cool, frost tops with strawberry buttercream. Frosted cupcakes will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 days. Top with a strawberry just before serving.

Strawberry Buttercream Dream Icing
2 sticks salted butter, room temperature
1 cup shortening
2 lbs. powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 - 1 cup finely minced strawberries
1-4 tablespoons very cold milk

Cream the butter and shortening in the bowl of an electric or stand mixer. Add the vanilla extract and combine well. Add sugar in about 3-4 separate batches and mix thoroughly after each addition. After all of the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly, add about 1-2 tablespoons of milk. Mix at medium-high to high speed. Slowly add strawberries until you reach the desired consistency...adding more milk if needed.


I'm Pho-real about my addiction...

My name is Tanya and I have an addiction.

Oh pho, how I love your hot, steamy goodness! My kids adore you and our family chooses you to warm our cold, winter days. We love you pho and are just so happy you are only 15-20 minute drive away now that we live in an area with more diversity. Thank you.

But seriously, we are so loving this fabulous Vietnamese noodle soup. I had loved them from back in the day in DC and of course, in CA where there are a veritable plethora of pho shops in the Bay Area. How could you not love this beefy broth, noodle, fresh herb, meaty goodness? O
oooooooh...so good. Now, if they could tone down the MSG, we'd be allllllll good!


G-town Cupcake

A few weeks ago we managed to sneak back home to DC for a short weekend. While there, my sister and I had a "Sister Day" and went into to Georgetown specifically to get these lovely beauties that had warranted a large section of the Washington Posts' Food Section a few months back. Georgetown Cupcake (right around the corner from our parents' alma mater)...has become the "IT" place of cupcakes in DC. I do not kid you that we stood in line for a good 20 minutes or more to get inside the bakery. What you see in the photo is the Chocolate Ganache, Toasted Marshmallow, Lemon Berry, Mocha, Chocolate Vanilla, Coconut (we got a reg. coconut and a Chocolate Coconut), Chocolate Cubed, and Vanilla Squared.

My sister and I are not big chocolate people...but if we had to opt for chocolate, hers would be milk and mine would be dark. Anyhoo...the cupcakes were fabulous!! My only gripe...the frosting. Too cream-cheesy for me. I like my buttercream to taste like buttercream. However, it did pair very well the cupcakes and the texture was unbelievably light and airy...but I was just hankering for good buttercream-buttercream. BUT...the clear winner for the both of us...dun dun duuuuuuuun...THE CHOCOLATE CUBED (that's the one in the foreground with chocolate sprinkles.

The ideal pairing? Cake Love buttercream (SOOOOOOO INCREDIBLY GOOD...but the cupcakes...dry & ughhhh) and Georgetown Cupcakes' cake! I tried two popular cupcake shops in NYC...Buttercup Bake Shop and Crumbs Bakery. The former I was really unimpressed with...you can find the same taste, consistency, AND quality in the grovery store. The latter was ginormous, moist, but tasted like a box mix...the buttercream was nothing noteworthy, not bad, but not standout.

Anyhoo...that's it!