Vanilla Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream, Dark Chocolate Ganache and Toasted Almonds

You guys…

Please know before we head into this, that I would never ever ever blatantly lie to you. You gotta know that.

Cause this is about to sound like such a load.

I’m not one to make excuses. I’m really really not. Please believe me when I say that this is not an excuse, it’s pure honesty.

See, I started a post on Friday in response to this article I read in Food & Wine, which poses the question: Is seasonal eating overrated?

For the record– I think not.

I had this whole spiel written out rebutting the argument that menus devoutly dedicated to falling in sync with the season equivocate to monotony, absence of artistry and a chef’s lack of dedication to their customers. It was a decent spiel, I swear. Let’s grab coffee and talk it out sometime.

Right, so I have all of this written out. Trying not to be so dern lazy. Trying to work on my legit writing skills. Trying to take a stand for the farmers market. You know, trying to be a good person and junk.

And then… it happens.

I erased everything. Because I am a goon. I am a goon incapable multitasking. Thus, my competency level apparently cannot handle both a telephone conversation and restarting my computer all at once.  Just too much.

So… we could blame this misfortune on my laptop acting janky. Or we could blame it on me being a goon. Take your pick.

 Um, I feel pretty bad about it either way.

Honestly though, I can still whip out a few major pointers on seasonality that everybody should know. Right here, right now. Let’s do it.

Despite what some food trend snobs may tell you, a well-crafted cupcake is always in season. Dry, mass-produced $4 sandpaper cupcakes topped with a swirly fro of lifeless shortening and sugar frosting… never in season. I can think of 400 better uses for $4. Skip the cupcake boutiques.

Delivering baked goods made with love (such as well-crafted cupcakes) to brighten someone’s day is always in season.

Letting people know you care is always in season. And not being ascared to care in the first place is yet again, in season– always.

So there you have it. Seasonality:  way to eat, way to be. Go for it.

Vanilla Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream, Dark Chocolate Ganache and Toasted Almonds

For the cupcakes

Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

  • 2/3 cup ripe strawberries, hulled and diced
  • 1 & 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 & 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp lemon

Preheat oven to 350. Line about 16-24 muffin cups with liners and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in eggs and egg yolk one at a time and then mix in the vanilla. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Combine. Add half of the yogurt. Mix. Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Mix. Add the rest of the yogurt. Mix and then add the final 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Mix until combined and the batter is smooth. Stir in the strawberries. Spoon out batter into lined cupcake pans, filling only halfway or just barely over halfway.

Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out with moist crumbs. Don’t over-bake.

Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost with strawberry buttercream.

For the strawberry buttercream frosting

Adapted from Paula Deen Celebrates! 

  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 ripe strawberries, hulled and mashed
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

Place the butter and 2 cups of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at low speed until blended. Add the mashed strawberries and mix at medium speed until well combined. Add the remaining 2 cups sugar and beat until creamy and smooth. The icing should be thick enough to stand up on a spoon. If too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar. If too thick, add a teaspoon or two of additional lemon juice (or milk).

Frost the cooled cupcakes.

For the Dark chocolate ganache

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Place the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the cream comes to a boil, remove from the heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes. Whisk the chocolate and cream until smooth. Allow to cool 5 minutes.

Spoon about a tablespoon of the chocolate ganache over each frosted cupcake. Top with toasted almonds before the ganache sets (below).

For the toasted almonds

  • 2 ounces almond slivers

Preheat the oven to 350.

Spread the almond slivers in an even layer on a baking sheet. Place in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice, or until almonds are lightly toasted and fragrant.

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