Sunday, July 11, 2010

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes


Ahhh... Summer.  Those lazy days when the living is easy and life is breezy.  I definitely love the bright blooms and fresh air of spring, the changing colors and brisk chill of fall, but I feel like I live for summer.  (Winter, eh, not such a fan.)  I think some of that summer love comes from a strong sense of nostalgia; dreaming about long midwest summer days filled with splashing around in the pool, running through sprinklers, and selling lemonade at the corner of our street for 25 cents a glass.  Of course, I love San Diego summers too, with the salty spray from the Pacific Ocean, backyard barbeques with friends, and an abundance of fresh produce.      


And I have always loved summers for the food (even before I actually knew I was a bona fide foodie).  There really is nothing like a thick hamburger or a steak, fresh off the grill...juicy watermelon or strawberries...and a tall glass of lemonade or iced tea.  Somehow, if I sat down to enjoy a meal like this in the spring, it just wouldn't feel the same as if I was relaxing with my feet up on a balmy summer evening.   


Although dessert is usually not the star of most summer meals (and those men hovering around the grill would deem anything other than meat-worshipping blasphemous), I wanted to make something summery but unique.  I found the recipe for these lemonade cupcakes in a cookbook I borrowed from a friend.

    

Enlightened Cakes is entirely devoted to recipes for cakes-all shapes and sizes, cupcakes, bundt cakes, cheesecakes, plus assorted frostings and glazes-that are made with ingredients that make each dessert treat a little more "light" on the calories and a little more easy on the waistline. Making one of these recipes will require you to get a few low-fat or fat-free items, but they certainly do not skimp on the taste.  This is the third recipe I have tried out from this cookbook (the other two being Blueberry Bundt Cake and Rosemary Olive Oil Bundt Cake) and I can assure you they have all been delicious, especially moist, and very flavorful. 

Plus, when temperatures go up and we start wearing a little less clothing to keep cool (and look cute, of course), I think everyone can appreciate a dessert that doesn't pack on the pounds.   


So hopefully I am not disappointing anyone, but these cupcakes don't have any actual lemonade in the ingredients; they do have an irresistable combination of lemony zing and pleasant sweetness that is reminscent of that favorite summer beverage.  I also loved how the cake was moist and light, since the last thing anyone wants in a summer dessert is something heavy.  I spiced up the original recipe a bit by adding some strawberries since these red beauties are everywhere in Southern California throughout the summer.  Plus, strawberry lemonade is pretty awesome.
     





Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
Adapted from Enlightened Cakes
Enlightened Cakes: More Than 100 Decadently Light Layer Cakes, Bundt Cakes, Cupcakes, Cheesecakes, and More, All with Less Fat and Fewer Calories


Cupcakes (makes about 22): 



3 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 2/3 cup fat free milk
1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon extract
zest from one lemon (reserve lemon for frosting)

1 3/4 cups sugar



1/4 cup, or 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large egg whites
1 cup diced fresh strawberries


Frosting (makes about 1 cup): 
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
dash of salt
zest from one lemon
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
About 6 strawberries, hulled and quartered for topping


Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit, prepare a muffin pan with baking liners, and set out two medium bowls.  In one bowl, whisk together the first four ingredients; in the second bowl, whisk together the next four ingredients (starting with milk) until well blended.  Set both bowls aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend sugar, butter, and oil at medium speed for about five minutes.  When well blended, add egg whites one at a time, blending after each addition.  Next, add the flour mixture and the milk mixture alternately to the batter, blending well after each addition, and ending with the flour mixture.  Add all the diced strawberries at once, and fold into the batter to mix well.  Pour or spoon the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 18-20 minutes.  Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of each cupcake; when it comes out clean they are done.  Cool cupcakes on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then remove them from the pan and cool completely.


While the cupcakes are baking, make the frosting.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat all the ingredients except the powdered sugar and strawberries.   Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth, then chill for at least 1 hour or overnight (frosting can be prepared ahead of time).  


To frost cupcakes, take a small amount (just about 1 teaspoon) of frosting and spread on the top of each cupcake, leaving a small edge unfrosted.  (See photo.)  Top each with one quartered strawberry, and chill until serving.       

**If you want the cupcakes to have more of an authentic strawberry lemonade taste or look, I thought of two other options: 1.) for a slightly pink tone, add some red food coloring, or mash up the strawberries to a pulp before adding them to the batter. 2.) for more "lemonade" flavor, it might be possible to substitute the lemon extract with lemonade concentrate, or, to substitute the plain fat-free yogurt with lemon or strawberry yogurt.  I haven't tried either these options but they were just ideas.  Have fun!**

43 comments:

  1. Gorgeous cupcakes, I really love these pictures

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  2. that is a beautiful cupcake!! lots of great lemon flavor (didn't really think you had lemonade in them)
    Great images!

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  3. I'm not disappointed at all to find there's no lemonade in there! These look absolutely beautiful and delicious. Stunning photography, as always.

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  4. Those are a perfect few bites of summer all wrapped up in a darling package. Wonderful recipe! I agree with you that Summer is the best season. :-)

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  5. Oh I am like you, love summer produce and food. So fresh and light. Strawberries...what can I say? I just had a huge bowl for dinner, and this recipe of yours is such a beautiful and sweet way to celebrate summer!

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  6. Lovely cupcakes! I love the combination of lemon and strawberry.

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  7. I LOVE citrus notes in summer desserts! We've also been having gorgeous strawberries so this may be the perfect cupcake :)

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  8. I love lemon in anything... and these look perfect! I do agree with you, I love summer and fall... winter... ehh not so much!

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  9. those look sooo delicious. i love lemon and strawberry anything.

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  10. These little babies look so pretty and yummy!

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  11. I love the simplicity and how the white icing is a perfect backdrop for the strawberry. Pretty and delicious; perfect combo!

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  12. I am making cupcakes this weekend after seeing your beautiful ones.

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  13. Oh, I am catching my breath at just how ethereal these lovely cupcakes look! Beautiful!

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  14. What little beauties! This is a perfect summertime flavor profile. I love that you made almost a glaze instead of a thick frosting--makes them seem lighter for summer!

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  15. What pretty little cakes... and I love the berry slice on top. You cannot beat the fully red, wonderfully sweet berries in the summer (as sadly compared to their white, sharp off-season counterparts). Lovely cakes!

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  16. These look awesome - I have so many strawberries (who can resist the 2 for 1 deals on fruit?) and this will be a great way to use them up. Your pictures are gorgeous!

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  17. Thanks for sharing! I am a cupcake fanatic and always looking for new inspiration. Your images are beautiful and make you want to bake a batch! Fresh sweet summer strawberries are a great cupcake topper adding a pop of color and sweetness.

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  18. These are beautiful- perfectly elegant for a summer picnic!

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  19. I just made a pitcher of lemonade and now you've inspired me to try your cupcake recipe. They look amazing and I know the kids will love helping me make them. Thanks for sharing!

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  20. Hi Amanda, your Strawberry lemonade cupcakes look lovely, I love the lemon combination. Must be delicious. The pictures are beautiful.

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  21. lovely cupcakes...elegant and light...

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  22. Oh... these cupcakes are so beautiful and look absolutely scrumptious!

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  23. i love the decoration..nice n sweet

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  24. lovely cupcakes :) please let me have one :)

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  25. Beautiful, summer-inspired cupcakes. Really like the use of yogurt in the ingredients.

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  26. Beautiful pictures! Those cupcakes look delicious!

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  27. How could these be disappointing? They're lovely!

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  28. Those cupcakes looks to die for. Strawberry and the frosting yummy.

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  29. Gorgeous cupcakes! San Diego is an incredible place for fresh ingredients and that's probably my favorite thing about living here. Looks like we have a few things in common... San Diego, science, and food... nice to "meet" you!

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  30. Your photos are amazing- they make me want to devour a pint of strawberries! What a great combo for a summer cupcake, and that book sounds like a winner!

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  31. They sound terrific. Your photos are delightful!
    LL

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  32. Wow, what a nice combination...the cupcakes are SO cute! Great pictures!

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  33. Strawberries are an early spring treat for us in N.C. so I'm already missing them! Luckily I always sweeten and freeze several quarts for winter cravings.

    The cupcakes look so sweet! Love the ingredients.

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  34. oh how I remember the good old days of selling lemonade on the corner of Riveredge Dr! I think if we were selling theses cupcakes we may have made more money though!

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  35. oh wow, your cupcakes look delicious! i would love to try them out later! ;) will tell you how they come out to be. hope they're as good as yours :)

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  36. OHHHH!!!! I loveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee this. Love Love Loveeee

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  37. The cupcakes are gorgeous and truly the quintessential summer treat! I can't wait to try the recipe.

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  38. Fantastic! I want to make these now. Gorgeous photos.

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  39. OMG! My favorite fruits in a cupcake?! I must try!

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  40. Wow, they look amazing!!!! What an awesome cupcake flavor concept. I love the first photo seriously... I died and went to heaven and back on earth for about 5 seconds. Beautiful! I totally dig that there's no "lemonade" exactly in the cupcake or the frosting but the taste and flavor is reminiscent of lemonade. Happy Summer!

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