Scientifically Sweet: Strawberry-Stuffed Cinnamon Cupcakes

Friday, February 10, 2012

Strawberry-Stuffed Cinnamon Cupcakes

If I were to pour my heart out, this is what it would look like.

I'm certain my heart is made of strawberries and sugar, and it tastes like springtime.

PS. I almost called these 'lovecakes' and then realized that it sounded way too cheesy. I'm not that cheesy. Am I? Maybe I am. I dunno.

If I were to pour my heart out, this is what it would sound like: I love the sun. I wish I were lying on a beach. Tropical fish are really cool, but sharks and sea urchins scare the veins outta me. I could drink from a coconut everyday - I would do it on a subway, I don't care what people say. I love chocolate. Can I share my chocolate with you? We should be friends because we both like chocolate. I love my husband because he says "happy wife, happy life". It makes me laugh - he makes me laugh all the time. I love laughing because I get to be happy while working out my abs all in one shot. Dogs are so fun. Why are they so smart? One day I'll have one and teach it how to bake. It could happen.

This week I was lucky enough to find some really great imported strawberries at the store. Usually, if they're not local or in season 'round here, they are red on the outside and inconspicuously white as wedding linen in the center. They taste like nothing and they're just plain mean! It's trickery.

BUT, these guys were oddly good. It makes me kinda creeps me out. But they were red all the way through and pretty dang strawberry-y. I couldn't help but want to cook them down into sweet, thick compote. It's pretty much exactly like making jam.

Have you ever made jam? Whoa. It's wrongfully easy. You should make it just to prove how awesome you really are.

Click here to learn how to make jam.

These cupcakes stay very soft and fluffy due to the combination of all-purpose flour and cake & pastry flour. That's because cake & pastry flour has less protein than all-purpose flour, which means that there are less opportunities for the formation of tough and elastic gluten proteins during mixing.

This recipe also uses a 'one-bowl' method, which blends the butter into the dry ingredients before beating in wet ingredients to create a smooth batter. The fat coats the flour particles to create a sort of barrier around gluten-forming proteins to prevent them from making your cupcakes less than tender.

Once the fluffy cinnamon-scented cakes are baked and cooled, I use a paring knife to cut out little cones in the center of each of them. Obviously I eat each and every single one of these cut-outs. Totally normal.

Then I spoon about a teaspoon or so of strawberry jam into the center, making sure to fill it up to the top.

Now it's time to whip up a cinnamon-infused cream cheese frosting because nothing is better than cinnamon on top of cinnamon, wrapped around strawberry. That's a lot of lovin' going on.

Place a dollop of frosting right over the jam filling and then gently spread it out to cover the edges.

Tell your honey that you filled your cupcakes with love. It sounds a little cheesy, but it tastes a lot delicious.

It could be anyone. Share them with your mom, your grandpa, your best friend, your husband, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, the guy who cleans the pool at your gym or that cranky lady who *sighs* at every elevator stop on your way down to the garage. You could even share them with your imaginary BFF. And since imaginary people don't eat, that means you get two! This also means that you are probably 6 years old and so you'll likely eat two anyway.

If you have a super strong imagination and your invisible friend really can eat, then at least he or she will be damn surprised when they bite down to find a pool of sweet, succulent strawberries oozing out of the center.

It's impossible to eat these without a huge grin on your face, so choose this recipe if you deserve some smiles today. Here's one to get you started...


Strawberry-Stuffed Cinnamon CupcakesMakes about 15 cupcakes

For the cupcake batter:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cake and pastry flour
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup minus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
¼ cup plus 1 tbsp full fat sour cream, at room temperature
2 tbsp pure canola oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup 2% milk, at room temperature

For the filling:
7 oz/200 g hulled and chopped strawberries (about 1 cup)
4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the frosting:
3 oz brick cream cheese
4 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1-1 ¼ cups sifted icing sugar
1-2 tsp milk
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

Line 15 muffin cups from two standard muffin pans with paper liners and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift together both flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Attach the bowl to the mixer, add sugar and mix on low speed until evenly blended, about 30 seconds.

Add softened butter and beat on low speed for 1 minute. The mixture will become less dusty as the butter becomes coated with flour and broken down into small pieces. Increase speed to medium-low and continue to beat until the mixture resembles damp sand or fine bread crumbs, about 2 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, sour cream, canola oil and vanilla extract until smooth. Add it to the flour mixture and beat on medium-low speed until moistened, sticky and the batter begins to form webs along the sides of the bowl and the beater, about 20 seconds. With mixer running on low, gradually add milk and then beat on medium speed for 20 seconds. Stop the mixer to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and then beat on medium speed for another 15 seconds. Do not over-mix. The batter will be smooth, satiny and creamy-looking. Gently fold the batter a few times with a rubber spatula to incorporate any ingredients stuck at the bottom of the bowl.

Spoon or scoop batter into lined muffin cups, filling them no more than halfway full (these cupcakes will rise quite a bit). Bake until a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, place chopped strawberries in a small 1-quart saucepan over medium-low heat and cook gently until they release their juices and look soupy, 5-7 minutes. Stir in sugar and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Use a potato masher to break down the fruit so that it looks like jam. Stir in lemon juice, cover and simmer until thick, about 10-15 minutes longer. Set aside to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter together with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in cinnamon and vanilla. Gradually add icing sugar and beat until combined. Beat in milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until fluffy and smooth and it reaches spreading consistency. You might not need the second teaspoon. Add a pinch of salt and beat until incorporated and it tastes just right!

Cut out a little cone in the center of each cooled cupcake. Place a teaspoon or so of strawberry jam in the center, filling them right to the top. Cover with a dollop of frosting and spread it out with an offset spatula. Gawk, eat, love.
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  1. Wow, these look wonderful and what a creative idea to fill them with jam! Beautiful photos and a recipe to pocket. I'm glad I found your blog! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Oh, they look delicious. I'm jealous that you were able to find those strawberries too! The ones I've found this winter are so bland and blah. I'm living for spring. Beautiful cupcakes. I love the cinnamon speckles in the frosting.

  3. This seems very bold - I love cinnamon and I love strawberries, but I have no idea how they'd work together. I am very intrigued, I might just have to try making these :)

    1. Strawberries with cinnamon is the bomb diggity. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

  4. Dear Christina, These cupcakes look like a delightful treat! The cinnamon and strawberries sound like a wonderful combo of flavors. Blessings, Catherine

  5. Ooooo these look too yummy! I love cinnamon and fruit but I don't see the combo too often, and definitely not in cupcakes! These are being put on the top of my to bake list asap. :) Thank you so much for the recipe and your continuous mega-awesome baking expertise!

    I was wondering if it would be ok if I -attempt- to adapt your recipe a bit sometime soonand post it on my infant-blog linking back to you and your blog? :o


    - Eve

  6. Yay thank you! :D I'm so excited to try these. It really is a shame the lovely cinnamon-fruit combo isn't used more often!


    - Eve

  7. nice idea! my first question was what you did with the cut outs. obviously i hadn't thought about it long enough...
    very pretty. complimenti

  8. Made these tonight. Did mini-cupcakes - got about 40 of them. Thought I would not have enough frosting but it was just right. Super light, flavorful cake and the strawberry cinnamon combo is a killer. Elegant comes to mind with these. Spooned the cutouts with jam and the frosting bowl scrapings into my eager mouth. I usually use an apple corer for cutouts on full sized cupcakes but this method works great on the minis which is a great new trick for me. Top shelf stuff. THANKS


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