Strawberry Cupcakes, Whipped Chocolate Ganache, and Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

My work had a Cupcake Wars competition to benefit the American Heart Association. I am completely aware of the irony, selling fatty, sugary, carby (word? it is now!), and just bad for you stuff in the form of a delicious little package the size of a cup, to raise money for the Heart Association. BUT I love it! And I love the idea of a competition. We had three judges and each assigned points based on taste and decoration (how much this matched the theme), and also one category for People’s Choice where everyone got to vote for their favorite. Cupcakes were $5 for one and $20 for 6. The team did a great job and raised $800 in the form of cupcakes!!

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The competition was great and the cupcakes all looked amazing. Who knew an engineering company would have so many bakers! Here’s the spread – the photo was taken by my co-worker using his phone. Pretty good phone camera.

CCW2And my cupcakes!

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Photo by Eric Schneider

And my co-worker’s cupcakes that came in third! They sold out first though, yum! Dark chocolate cupcakes filled with raspberry curd and topped with a whole ghiradelli square!

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And the results of the competition….drumroll please

               1st place tie for People’s Choice

               2nd place overall 

Like I said, competition was tough! Have to try again next year.

Now for the recipe.

Strawberry Cupcakes filled with Whipped Chocolate Ganache and Strawberry Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Strawberry Cupcakes from TheLittleEpicurean.com

Whipped Chocolate Ganache from StopLookingetCookin.com

Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream from bakingamoment.com

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream from Annieseats.com

Yield:  about 3 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients:

Sprinkles’ Strawberry Cupcakes

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoon ground freeze dried strawberries
  • 1 cup strawberry puree
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg, room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature

Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 1.2 ounces freeze-dried strawberries
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • Pinch of salt

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 2.5 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped Chocolate Ganache

  • 2 cups (12 ounces) chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Optional – 2 – 3 tablespoons of the flavoring of your choice – vanilla, brandy, rum, etc.

Directions:

For Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground freeze dried strawberries.  Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, mix together strawberry puree, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  In a small cup, whisk together whole egg and egg whites.  Slowly add egg mixture into the butter mixture on low-medium speed until combined.
  5. With the mixer on low, alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk mixture.  Start and finish with the flour.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula in between additions to ensure ingredients are thoroughly distributed.
  6. Divide batter evenly among the prepared muffin tin.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.  Let cupcakes cool in muffin tin until cool enough to remove and transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Cupcakes are ready for icing once they are room temperature.

For Strawberry Buttercream

  1. Grind the freeze-dried strawberries to a fine powder, in a food processor or blender, and set aside.
  2. In a large glass or metal bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar.
  3. Set the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water, and stir continuously, until the sugar is completely dissolved. (Check by rubbing a small amount between thumb and forefinger; it should not feel grainy.)
  4. Remove the bowl from the simmering water and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture is cooled completely.
  5. Add the butter in, a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. If the mixture begins to look curdled, continue to beat until it comes back together, before adding the remaining butter.
  6. Fold in the freeze-dried strawberries

For Vanilla Buttercream

  1. To make the frosting, combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.
  3. Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (don’t worry, it will come together!)  Stir in the vanilla extract and mix just until incorporated.  Tint with gel icing color as desired.
  4. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

For Whipped Chocolate Ganache

  1. Heat heavy cream in a heavy pan on medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until the mixture is smooth. Stir in optional flavoring.
  2. Let chocolate mixture cool in a refrigerator for 1 hour.  When the mixture is at a “spoonable” consistency, place in mixing bowl.
  3. Whip mixture with either the whisk or beater attachment of your mixer for 5 minutes on medium speed or until mixture creates stiff peaks.

Store at room temperature or in a fridge for up to 2 days.

For Assembly

  1. After cupcakes have cooled, use a melon baller or utensil of choice to scoop out some cupcake for filling. Fill a piping bag or Ziploc bag with the whipped chocolate ganache and fill each cupcake.
  2. Fill smaller piping bag with vanilla buttercream. Fill second small piping bag with strawberry buttercream. Use one large piping bag and place both bags in with piping tip of choice (use a big one though!). Squeeze buttercream on with even pressure so you don’t squeeze one side of the bag too much and get one color.

I will say the strawberry buttercream was so good, I almost wish I just frosted the whole thing with the strawberry.

I always make the cupcakes first and while they cool I make the buttercreams and filling.  This time though, I would make the chocolate ganache first because it needs time to cool. I didn’t get photos of the cream poured on the chocolate because my cream boiled over and I just threw it on the chocolate in a mad rush. Here’s the ganache at a “spoonable” consistency.

DSC_0925_webThen whip this up. I love this whipped chocolate ganache, it’s so easy and makes a great filling and frosting for a cake. It changes color too as you whip air into it, so it’s easy to see when you’re done.

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DSC_0928_webIt’s ready!

DSC_0930_webFill for later.

DSC_0931_webThen I would make the cupcakes (of course you should start this as the ganache is cooling to a spoonable consistency). For the cupcakes I just used an ice cream scooper to grind up 2 tablespoons-worth.

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Then I processed the raw ones.

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DSC_0880_webMade my batter.

DSC_0887_webMixed in the strawberry puree.

DSC_0890_webLook at the delicious pinkness.

DSC_0892_webWhen this bakes up though, it won’t be pink. So if you want pink strawberry cupcakes, I suggest you add some food coloring.

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DSC_0894_webIt’s actually not a pretty color, but they get covered in frosting so it doesn’t matter! Plus, this recipe is delicious, so strawberry tasting and moist. Now for the strawberry frosting. Don’t do what I did and throw the whole bag of freeze dried strawberries in the food processor without paying attention!

DSC_0897_webBecause there might be a preservative packet in there.

DSC_0902_webIf you can’t read that, it says Do Not Eat! Especially if it’s been torn up by a food processor and all the little toxic crap has spilled out into the strawberries. Luckily I had another bag and redid the process. I mixed my clean ground strawberries with the buttercream.

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DSC_0906_webSee my old post for the vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. Stored until ready to use.

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Now for assembly. Scoop the cupcake.

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Eat the scraps. Taste testing, it’s part of the job.

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Fill it with the ganache.

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DSC_0937_webThen fill your dual piping bags.

DSC_0938_webAnd pipe away!

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DSC_0948_webAs you can see in the photos above, I put a strawberry on a few minutes before. These were cut into a heart-shape to match the theme.

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Lay them facedown on a paper towel to soak up some water so they don’t run over the cupcake.

DSC_0909_webThen I decorated with some chocolate writing with words like “cure”, “AHA”, etc. relating to the American Heart Association.

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DSC_0960_webFreeze these until they set.

Enjoy the cupcake love!

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4 thoughts on “Strawberry Cupcakes, Whipped Chocolate Ganache, and Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  1. How fun! I love the idea of a cupcake competition, and for such a great cause! Your cupcakes came out amazing. Brilliant idea to add chocolate. And your piping is so pretty! I’m so happy everyone enjoyed the strawberry buttercream so much. Thanks for linking to my blog! ❤

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