Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas Hat Strawberry Cupcakes

Happy Christmas everyone! May everyone have an enjoyable time with their family and friends on this festive season. For Christmas, I've always dreamt of having a special feast with my family, hanging up stockings in my bedroom, having a massive tree in my house with presents underneath and dressed up warm and cosy, drinking hot chocolate around a fireplace. Unfortunately, that is never the case for me. First of all, Christmas down in the southern hemisphere is summer and therefore hot chocolate would be out of my list and I'd rather prefer to have a cool and refreshing dessert on my christmas menu like a strawberry cupcake. Secondly, christmas is never celebrated in my family although I very very much would like to celebrate it. It would never go according to plan unless I make it come true myself and I haven't been so motivated. I guess baking christmas desserts, being a little Miss Santa and singing some christmas carols with my sisters is as christmas I can get it to be.
I love this strawberry cupcake.The best cupcake I've ever tasted. It's pink, sweet and full of pure strawberry flavour. It can't get anymore organic than this. This recipe uses fresh strawberries in the batter giving out that fresh aroma of strawberries when you bite into it. Sweet and succulent where I ask for more after the first cupcake.
 As you may have noticed, I haven't blogged for a while now. December was just jam-packed with important events for me going from weddings to conferences to preparing for my 6 month candidature review of my PhD. I was especially nervous with my preparations since I haven't done public speaking for over a year now. My heart was beating fast, I couldn't stand in one spot for long and my hands were shaking which has never happened to me before. But at the very least, I'm glad that was over and done with.
But I guess the best thing that has happened during my absence from blogging was attending my family friend's wedding. As bizarre as it sounds, I've never been through an entire wedding ceremony although I'm already in my 20's. It was a very different experience compared to just showing up to a banquet. I was right behind the scenes where I first got to watch the bride and bridesmaids getting their make-up and hair done. It was also my first time helping out before the tea ceremony began with doing last touch-up's on the food to be served to family and guests and then to the fun part where the groom comes to pick up the bride. For Singaporeans like us, we definitely will not let the groom and groomsmen off so easily to see the bride. The bridesmaids came up with a specially brewed cocktail (diluted soy sauce with wasabi) to serve the guys for each answer the groom gets wrong about his dear bride. Surprisingly, the drink didn't affect the groom as he skulled it down as manly as he could but the groomsmen sure did have a hard time drinking it.
I had to say I cried during the wedding ceremony when the bride and groom were exchanging vows. For the first time, I witnessed such a magical moment. Deep down I felt really happy for them since the bride and I have grown up together. Now that she's stepping into the next chapter of her life, I wish her a blissful marriage and in the very near future, start her next chapter into motherhood.

Christmas Hat Strawberry Cupcakes

(adapted from An Edible Mosaic)
2½ cups plain flour
2 ⅛ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
⅛ tsp bicarb soda
9 oz hulled fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups chopped strawberries, lightly packed)
112.5g (½ cup/1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups caster sugar
2 large eggs
¼ cup milk (any kind)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp strawberry extract (if available)

1. Preheat oven to 180° C/160°C fan-forced and line cupcake tins with paper liners.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor (you will get about 1 1/4 cups of strawberry liquid); set aside.

3. Cream together butter and sugar, then cream in the eggs; mix in the milk, vanilla extract, strawberry extract, and pureed strawberries. Use a wooden spoon to stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients all at once, stirring just enough to combine and being careful not to over-mix.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake wells (filling each about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way full) and bake until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean, about 20 to 24 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Yields about 24 to 28 cupcakes

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
(adapted from Citrus and Candy)

100g white chocolate (containing cocoa butter), chopped
170g cream cheese softened
25g unsalted butter
a spoonful of sour cream (approx. 2 tsps)

1. In a bowl over simmering water, melt the white chocolate. Remove and set aside to cool.

2. Beat the cream cheese, butter and sour cream until smooth. Scrape the sides down with a rubber spatula to incorporate everything. Add in the cooled white chocolate and beat until smooth. If the mixture is too soft, allow it to become firm in the fridge for 5-10mins before piping it onto the cake.

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