Berry Cupcakes and Bucket Lists

I had a mini-crisis as I was putting together this cupcake recipe.  The berries were just too good on their own.  It almost felt like it was disrespecting the berries to mix them up into cupcakes.

It’s that time of the year when even the berries at your shadiest local bodega are gorgeous angels.  I infused this buttercream frosting with a natural raspberry jam and simply garnished the cupcakes with the beautiful berries in order to maintain their vital integrity.

How do you inject summer adventure in your life when professional goals and routines are running rampant?  Just like infusing a buttercream frosting, you have to choose ingredients wisely and blend well.  I recently concocted a summer bucket list of sweet distractions that will see me through until September.

  1. First of all, I want to visit this boat graveyard on Staten Island.  The haunting and moody images captured by South Korean artist Miru Kim have me wanting to plan a visit, the drearier the day, the better.
  2. A week ago I passed by some colorful walls in SoHo and saw a sign for a mural art class… has anyone done this?  I need to find out more!  In the meantime, I’ll be thinking of some insightful and provocative imagery to scrawl onto buildings and freight cars.
  3. In honor of my birthday, I want to make a pavlova, a meringue cake usually topped off with whipped cream and berries.  Fun fact, the pavlova is apparently named after a Russian ballerina.  I’m most likely going to try out this recipe!
  4. I need to finally get that tattoo I’ve been talking about since last year!  Looking into my crystal ball, 80-year-old Hadley of the future finally approves.  That is all.

Add these strawberry raspberry chocolate cupcakes to your June pastry repertoire, and you won’t regret it.  Each bite is a little burst of summery inspiration.  Snack on them while you’re writing your own summer bucket list!

Scroll down for the recipe.

Strawberry Raspberry Chocolate Cupcakes

For the cupcakes (makes about 24 mini cupcakes):

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk

Instructions:

  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat together the butter and the sugar.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla extract
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt.
  5. Gradually add the dry mixture to the butter/sugar mixture, alternating with the coconut milk.  Stop mixing once well incorporated.
  6. Fill lined cupcake containers 2/3 full with the batter.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the frosting: 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoons raspberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry jam
  • 1 drop red food coloring, if desired

Instructions:

  1. Beat the butter in a stand mixer until light and fluffy
  2. Gradually add the confectioners sugar
  3. Add jam and food coloring.  Beat until well incorporated.

Wait until the cupcakes cool to add frosting.  Garnish with raspberries and strawberry cutouts, as desired.

Ichigo Daifuku Cake

“Ichi-go Ichi-e”

This Japanese phrase has grown to mean a lot to me.  It literally means “one time, one meeting.”  In other words, you don’t get moments back.  This chance is your chance… your chance to start a conversation, to ask a question, to pick up a lucky penny from the street, even though people are watching.  This is your chance to try that new recipe that you’ve been eyeing.  Who knows, maybe the moment will grow into something more.  In short, take all the chances that you encounter, and regret nothing.

Adding to my “punny” delight, the word ichigo in Japanese also means “strawberry.”  One strawberry, one meeting.  Words to live by; savor that strawberry!  Ichigo daifuku is a Japanese treat: a strawberry covered in red bean paste, with a thin outer layer of mochi.  It was one of my favorite snacks to pick up while I lived in Japan.  It’s healthy-ish!

This cake is inspired by ichigo daifuku.  It’s three layers of strawberry cake laden with strawberry puree, covered in whipped cream, with layers of red bean paste and mochi bits in between the cake.  The cake is decorated with strawberry cut-outs.  I made the mochi and purchased the ready-to-eat red bean paste.  Scroll down for the recipe!

Fun fact, this cake plummeted to the floor shortly after the conclusion of my photo shoot.  I guess that I got a little too confident carrying it to the fridge… what can I say, ichigo, ichie.  It was beautiful while it lasted!

in-between layer detail… spread on a thick layer of red bean paste.
Add bite-sized bits of homemade mochi for extra chewiness.

 

Strawberry Cake

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cover inside of 5 inch baking pan with butter.
  2. Place 4 large strawberries into a blender, and blend until smooth.  For a smoother cake, strain out the seeds.  I chose to leave them in for more texture.  Set the puree aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the egg, white sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and strawberry puree until well combined.  Stir in the flour, baking powder, and red food coloring (only if you want) to reach a desired shade of pink. 
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until the cake has risen and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes.  Allow cake to cool before frosting.  Torte the cake into three layers.

Whipped Cream (For Frosting)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Instructions:

  1. Place mixing bowl in the freezer and allow to chill for ten minutes.  It is important for the bowl to be cold.
  2. Whip cream until soft peaks form.  Add vanilla and confectioners sugar.
  3. Continue whipping just until incorporated, then stop. If you over-whip, the cream will develop a butter-like consistency.

Mochi

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice flour, aka “mochiko” (plus extra for dusting)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup water

Instructions:

  1. Mix the rice flour, sugar, and water together.
  2. Cook the rice flour mixture in the microwave for 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
  3. Stir rice flour mixture and heat for another 15 to 30 seconds.
  4. Roll mixture into small balls.  Dust with extra rice flour to prevent stickiness.

Assembly: Stack cake with layers of red bean paste and mochi bits in between the strawberry cake.  Frost cake with a thin layer of whipped cream for a naked finish.  Use cookie cutters to punch out strawberry shapes and use these to decorate the top of the cake.