Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

I never cease to be amused by transforming things into cupcake flavors. I am actually rather backlogged in showing off some of the things I baked lately, but long story short, I made a cupcake a couple weeks ago that was an homage to cheesecake, and it made me think that it could really go one step further.
Utilizing the always dependable Smitten Kitchen's epic recipe stash, I incorporated her black bottom cupcake cream cheese filling (with some adaptation) into a honey and graham flour cupcake base, and then topped with freshly sliced strawberries and a homemade strawberry glaze, with a decorative cream cheese frosting border (intended to add structural support in case the glaze decided to get slippery). I am happy to report that everything seemed to work out swimmingly, even for a first experimental try. Love it when that happens.

Honey and Graham Cupcake
- 6 tbs butter, room temp
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 egg and 1 egg yolk
- 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup graham flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup milk

Preheat over to 350˚. Line baking tins. This recipe should make just over a dozen regular sized cupcakes.
Whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
With electric mixer on high, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add in honey until incorporated, followed by eggs. Beat until the point of being fluffy again, then turn mixer down low and in batches, mix in flour and then milk until incorporated. Do not over mix.
Dollop mix into cupcake tins to just about half full (aren't we so optimistic). Set aside while making cream cheese filling.

Baked-in Cream Cheese Filling
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbs cornstarch

Beat cream cheese and sugar together until smooth, then add in egg and beat until smooth, then add in vanilla and cornstarch until smooth. This is more filling than you will need (go ahead and double the cupcake recipe then!)

Dollop a spoonful of filling into the cake battered cupcake tins. Since the batter is actually kind of thick, I took a spoon and sort of hollowed out the inside of each cup before adding the cream cheese filling. I think it helped keep the filling mor or less in the middle versus resulting in being a top layer of the cupcake.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Cupcakes and filling will rise very nicely, but will fall a little when you take out of the oven. The filling may seem a little giggly while it's still warm, but once they get to room temperature, everything solidifies nicely. Sort of a typical cheese cake reaction, so don't freak out and over bake them.

Strawberry Glaze
So I happened to have about a half a cup of strawberry puree in my freezer from some previous strawberry project, so used that. If I had to guess, I'd say it was about the equivalent of a dozen large strawberries. Maybe 6-8oz. Give or take. To it, I added some undetermined amount of water... let's say 1/2 a cup, and 1/3 cup of sugar. I let that boil until it started foaming up, then strained out the chunks and seeds and put back over low heat and added a surrey of about 1 tablespoon water and 2 teaspoons of cornstarch. Once that started boiling again, I just whisked it all together to make sure it was incorporated and removed from the heat and let set for a couple minutes.  Should coat the back of a wooden spoon easily. And yes, another case of having too much glaze for the number of cupcakes I made. This made a lot of glaze... Enough for maybe 3-4 dozen cupcakes. I will find out how well it freezes and report back in a few months.

Cream Cheese Frosting
This (again) will make way more frosting than you need for this project, but I'm sure you can think of other things to do with leftover cream cheese frosting. You own a spoon, right?
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 8 oz butter, room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. 1 cup at a time, add in powdered sugar until mix is fluffy. Add in vanilla and continue to beat (scraping down the sides as needed), until the whole thing is fluffy and elastic.

Once things have cooled down a bit, gently wash off as many strawberries as there are cupcakes (1 per cupcake for medium sized berries - if they are particularly large, 1 strawberry can top 2 cupcakes). When presenting berries, I typically don't drown them under running water, but instead dab them with a moist paper towel to clean them. Otherwise, I guess you could rinse them off earlier in the process so they're are dry again once you're ready to slice them - basically, you just don't need a bunch of excess water ruining your set up at this point.

You then top each cupcake with a splayed strawberry, then using a pastry brush, dollop and spread glaze over it.

With a small tip on a pastry bag, pipe frosting around edges. You can be as decorative as you please, my only goal was to encase the strawberries in an attempt to contain them. The glaze wasn't runny though, so in the end, the frosting ended up being purely decorative (oh, and tasty). 

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