Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

by Jillian
Supremely soft and fluffy strawberry cupcakes topped with a melt-in-your-mouth lemon swiss meringue buttercream!

Supremely soft and fluffy strawberry cupcakes topped with a melt-in-your-mouth lemon swiss meringue buttercream!

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes | A baJillian Recipes (title)

Can you believe it’s July already?! Where in the world did June go?? Despite the fact that we just celebrated the Fourth of July this past week, my dumb dumb self somehow forgot that June is done and over with. July is here, which means the heat has officially arrived…along with the mosquitoes.

Thanks to those wispy little son-of-a-gun vampires I’ve been slapping myself like crazy trying not to itch every red bump, making me look crazier than I already am. Ugh, it MUST be true that mosquitoes always go after the sweeter individuals 😉

Speaking of sweet, I can’t think of any beverage that’s more symbolic of summer than good ol’ lemonade. More specifically, strawberry lemonade. It’s sweet, sour, cool, and refreshing. Perfect for these blazingly hot summer days. So I figured why not transform this beverage favorite into something different? Like these beauty-ful cupcakes…

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Cupcakes have to be my favorite thing to photograph–they’re just so photogenic on their own that it’s impossible NOT to take a great picture with every snap of the lens. Just look at how bright and vibrant these little ladies look.

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Not only are they bright and vibrant in color, but in flavor as well. After removing the cupcakes from the oven, I was super pleased with how soft and pillowy they baked up to be.

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes | A baJillian Recipes

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not the biggest fan of fruit chunks in my cake. Raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are the exception since they melt into the batter as they bake. Strawberries, however, are similar to apples, pears, and other firmer fruits, and they tend to keep their shape in baked goods. I did NOT want that in these cupcakes.

So in order to infuse these cupcakes with that strawberry sweetness, I used homemade strawberry jam. For one thing, it was easier than washing, stemming, coring, and puréeing a bunch of strawberries. And another thing, the jam already had sugar in it, adding even more sweetness to these cupcakes.

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While many prefer butter over oil due to the flavor it adds to baked goods, I’ve found that oil gives cupcakes a bouncier texture while also keeping them extra moist. To make up for the lack of flavor in the oil, I added twice the amount of sour cream for richness.

Along with the essentials like flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, egg, and vanilla, I added a little bit of almond extract. Almond extract is a great ingredient to add anytime you’re baking with berries. It really just amplifies the flavor of any berry, which is why it’s a staple in my pantry.

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Since these cupcakes baked up sweet enough on their own, I decided to top them off with a buttercream that’s less sweet than your classic American buttercream. Swiss meringue buttercream, or SMB, is not only silkier in texture, but much less sweet due to the fact that it contains about 1/4 of the amount of sugar that’s added to American buttercream. There’s a little more work and skill involved, however, it’s so worth it for these cupcakes.

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Just separate a few egg whites into a heat-safe bowl, add some sugar, stir the two over some gently simmering water until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is heated through. Transfer the bowl to the freezer to cool completely, whip up some butter ’til light and fluffy, add in your cooled syrup, followed by your flavorings, badda bing badda boom, you’ve got your swiss meringue buttercream! Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Well, sorta…I will say that SMB can be a little intimidating since it’s so temperamental when it comes to combining the syrup and the butter. You never know if you’re gonna get a lumpy, soupy mess, or smooth-as-silk perfection. It’s always been 50/50 for me. On the bright side, it’s always fixable. If you find that your SMB looks curdled and doesn’t come together no matter how long you’ve beaten it, simply remove a couple of tablespoons of the curdled frosting and place it into a small microwaveable bowl. Heat it in the microwave until it’s completely melted, then add it back into the mixing bowl. Turn the mixer on, and beat everything until it’s smooth. If it still looks curdled, just keep repeating this reheating technique a tablespoon at a time until the mixture comes together.

If the frosting looks soupy and runny, chill the bowl of frosting in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes. Take it out, then beat the mixture until smooth and satiny.

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Instead of adding both the juice and zest of the lemon to the SMB, I decided to only add the juice. The zest does contain a lot of that great citrus flavor, but because I was planning on piping the buttercream on top of the cupcakes, I didn’t want to risk the pieces of zest getting stuck and clogging the piping tip. However, if you’re planing on using a large round tip, or simply just spreading it on top with a knife, go ahead and add a little zest for that extra lemony goodness.

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I don’t think you’ll find a more bright and summery cupcake than these Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes. From the sweetness of the strawberry cupcake to the tart citrus of the lemon buttercream, your mouth will likely be salivating with joy…if that’s even a thing.

Supremely soft and fluffy strawberry cupcakes topped with a melt-in-your-mouth lemon swiss meringue buttercream!

Supremely soft and fluffy strawberry cupcakes topped with a melt-in-your-mouth lemon swiss meringue buttercream!

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Supremely soft and fluffy strawberry cupcakes topped with a melt-in-your-mouth lemon swiss meringue buttercream!
Prep Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Chilling Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 58 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 20 Cupcakes

Ingredients
  

Cupcakes

  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • cup strawberry jam
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • teaspoon almond extract

Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 7 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • Strawberries, for topping

Instructions
 

Make the Cupcakes:

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF, and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar until well blended. Add the milk, sour cream, oil, jam, egg, vanilla, and almond extract and stir until just combined.
  • Pour batter into cupcake liners, filling 2/3 of the way. Bake in the oven for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Buttercream:

  • In a heat-safe bowl, whisk the egg whites, sugar, and salt together. Remove bowl from mixer, then place over a pan of simmering water, not touching the water. Whisk until warm and sugar is dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Mixture should feel completely smooth with no graininess when a bit is rubbed between two fingers. Remove from heat and chill in the freezer for 15-20 minutes, or until mixture is cool.
  • Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high until fluffy and lightened in color. Add about half of the cooled syrup and beat for one minute. Add the last half and continue beating until mixture is thick, yet fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract, and beat until smooth and fully incorporated.
  • Frost or pipe buttercream onto cooled cupcakes, as desired. Top each cupcake with a fresh strawberry.

Notes

*If frosting appears curdled or runny after combining the butter and cooled syrup, remove bowl from the mixer and chill in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes. Return bowl to the mixer, and beat on high until mixture has come together. 
*Cupcakes frosted with Swiss meringue buttercream may be covered and stored on the counter at room temperature for a 2 days. If storing in the refrigerator, remove cupcakes from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving to bring back to room temperature.
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2 comments

iza July 13, 2018 - 8:13 AM

they look great

Reply
Jillian July 18, 2018 - 2:39 AM

Thank you, Iza!

Reply

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