strawberry balsamic cupcakes

strawberry balsamic cupcakes |

i have a two-year standing tradition of making cupcakes on my birthday and giving them out to people i see throughout the day. the best part about it is that i don’t have to worry about pleasing other people with flavors – it’s my birthday, and i’ll make whatever flavor cupcakes i want! that means it is an opportunity for me to pull out whatever flavors i have been super excited about, but have been hesitant to make because i was worried other people might find them too weird. enter strawberry balsamic cupcakes. i LOVE balsamic strawberries, but i know that a lot of other people can’t wrap their minds around the idea of vinegar in a dessert. what those people don’t realize is, the acidity of the vinegar is the perfect counterpart to the sweetness of the strawberries and brown sugar, and it all comes together in an amazing flavor explosion. so you can understand why i was so excited about these cupcakes, and trust me… they didn’t disappoint. the brown butter cupcakes had that great nuttiness that only brown butter can provide, but not so strong a flavor that they overpowered the rest of the cupcake. the frosting, my first attempt at a swiss meringue buttercream, was light and creamy, with the flavors of the strawberries and the vinegar totally coming through. and the topping and glaze brought it all together into one fantastic little dessert. these were probably, to date, my favorite cupcakes i have ever made, and it was so much fun to give them out to my friends that i saw during the day.

strawberry balsamic cupcakes
yield: about 18 cupcakes

a moist, nutty brown butter cupcake, topped with a deliciously smooth and creamy strawberry balsamic buttercream, with a strawberry balsamic topping and a balsamic glaze. that's one unbelievable flavor explosion.
adapted from:
for the strawberry balsamic swiss meringue buttercream
  • 1½ cups fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
for the strawberry balsamic topping
  • 3 cups fresh strawberries, diced small
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
for the balsamic glaze
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
for the brown butter cupcakes
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (no substitutions)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg white
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla
  • ⅔ cup buttermilk
to make the strawberry balsamic swiss meringue buttercream
  1. combine the chopped strawberries, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries have softened and the liquid is somewhat reduced, about 5-8 minutes. let the mixture cool slightly, then transfer it to a blender and puree until smooth. cool completely before putting into the buttercream.
  2. once the strawberry puree is cool, combine the egg whites and the rest of the sugar in a double boiler. heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches 160°f. transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. beat on medium-high speed until the bowl is cool to the touch, about 10 minutes. switch to the paddle attachment and on medium speed, add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating after each addition until it is incorporated. if the frosting looks soupy or curdled, just keep beating it on medium-high speed until it becomes thick and fluffy – in almost all cases, it will come together eventually. add the strawberry puree and beat until it is completely incorporated.
to make the strawberry balsamic topping
  1. combine the strawberries, sugar, vinegar, and vanilla in a bowl and let the mixture sit for at least 20-30 minutes.
to make the balsamic glaze
  1. combine the vinegar and brown sugar in a small saucepan or skillet. heat over medium-high heat until bubbling, then lower the heat and continue to cook until the mixture has reduced to about 2 tablespoons. set it aside to cool completely.
to make the cupcakes
  1. preheat the oven to 350°f. line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. place the butter in a skillet over medium heat. let it melt and cook, swirling occasionally, until the butter is a deep golden brown color. set it aside to cool slightly, then transfer the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer. add the sugars and beat on medium speed until smooth and the bowl is slightly warm to the touch. add the eggs and egg white, followed by the vanilla.
  3. in a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. with the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. mix everything until it is just incorporated.
  4. fill the cupcake liners with the batter about ⅔ full. bake for about 18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. let the cupcakes cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. top them with the frosting and topping, and drizzle them with the glaze.
because a lot of the elements of these cupcakes need to be heated then cooled, i would prepare all of the toppings before making the actual cupcakes. then, it all comes together really easily!
i found that swiss meringue buttercream is a lot easier than i expected, and quite forgiving – almost any mistake can be rectified by beating the mixture a little longer. if you have any problems, rosie has a great tutorial.


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