Nothing says Summer like Strawberries and Blueberries! With the abundance of these lovely fruits in California it's difficult to make anything but sweets. Both my girls (and husband) just love coming home to a house full of delicious desserts so I don't think anyone minds, except my waist line. We will have to work on that one.
(Our fresh organic garden strawberries)
Homegrown garden fresh strawberries (or any fruit/veggie) have an incredible robust taste that can't compare to any grocery store. We've always been big on using organic (no pesticide) mulch. Mulch is placed over the soil to retain moisture, reduce erosion, and provide much needed nutrients to the soil. I've mentioned before our garden has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and my husband is a garden enthusiast. He has found great ways to use natural mulch recycled from the yard. Our favorite organic mulch are pine needles. It keeps the critters away and also lifts the fruit above the ground to insure (almost always) no snail bites!
(Our flower garden to attract beneficial insects that promotes our organic gardening)
The girls, especially our 4 year old, love to walk into the garden in the morning and pick all of their fresh fruits for breakfast. Right now we have strawberries, oranges, plums, artichokes, avocados, squash, carrots and tomatoes growing. Since the climate in Santa Barbara is so mild it's fun to grow exotic fruits such as mangoes (Tropics) and cherimoyas (South America.) We have a manila mango tree that produces very sweet fruit.
(Ky picking strawberries for breakfast)
Our strawberry plants didn't have enough fruit to make the entire cupcakes but I was able to incorporate a few of them! These cupcakes are on my top favorite! With every moist bite it's as if you're biting into a huge fresh juicy strawberry. I asked my 4 year old what they tasted like, she said "Strawberries on strawberries on strawberries on top of strawberries!"
Recipe adapted from Sprinkles, Beverly Hills
2/3 cup fresh whole strawberries
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon course salt
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup whole fresh strawberries
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
Pinch course salt
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
Place strawberries in a food processor; process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together milk, vanilla and strawberry puree; set both aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (a hand mixer will work just fine too), cream butter on med-high speed, until light and fluffy (about 4-5 minutes.) Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add the egg and egg whites until just blended.
With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the strawberry mixture; mix until just blended. Repeat with remaining flour and strawberry sauce, scraping down the sides as needed until well blended.
Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool before icing.
Place strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until pureed. i the bowl of a standing or hand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt until light and fluffy (about 4-5 minutes.) Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree (save any remaining puree for a another use); mix until well blended. Do not overmix, or frosting will develop too much air. Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.