Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

Over the summer I was out of the office on medical leave for about 13 weeks and I’m pretty sure that I spent most of my days watching cooking shows and gaining 10lbs with each show. I wanted so badly to be able to be on my feet in the kitchen and baking up a million different delicious treats. By the time I went back to work at the end of July I had a dozen or so recipes to try on my coworkers. I’ve spent the last several weeks trying different ones out and I’ve discovered I really love making cupcakes.

Yesterday on Mama’s Kitchen’s Facebook fan page I asked the fans what sort of cupcake they would enjoy. Among the entries, my cousin Rachael requested a strawberry cupcake with a cheesecake filling and I immediately set to work building it out in my head. I’ve seen various concoctions of strawberry with a cream cheese frosting but I wanted to go beyond that.

Inspiration for this recipe came from Annie’s pumpkin cream cheese muffins. I really liked the way she did the cream cheese center, and I was hopeful that this concept could carry over. What I came up with was a strawberry cupcake base, with a cheesecake disc in the center, topped with a strawberry cream cheese frosting. There is just the right balance of sweetness – because there is nothing worse than your teeth aching when you bite into something sweet.

Thanks Rach for the suggestion – I have truly enjoyed creating this one!

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes
Yield: 30 cupcakes

For the Filling:
12oz cream cheese
½ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
½ cup graham cracker crumbs

For the Cake:
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup fresh strawberry puree (about 10 strawberries)

For the Frosting:
8oz cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
5 strawberries, pureed

For the filling, cream everything except the graham cracker crumbs in your stand mixer until smooth, approximately five minutes. Lay a piece of saran about 24” in length wrap long ways on the work surface and spray lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle you graham cracker crumbs evenly over the saran wrap and drop your cream cheese mixture in the beginning shape of a log over them. Using the saran wrap to help, gently roll your cream cheese mixture into a log about one inch in diameter and about 18” in length. Wrap in foil and freeze until firm, about two hours.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line three cupcake pans with liners and set to the side. (Alternately, if you’re like me and only have two pans, you can bake in two sessions.)

For the cake, cream together your butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in your eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each one, and then add in your vanilla. Slowly add your dry ingredients, alternating with your wet ingredients and always ending with flour. This will ensure you have a smooth batter. Stir in your strawberry puree.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill your cupcake bays half full. Remove your cheesecake log from the freezer and slice into 30 equal pieces, and place a piece of the cheesecake directly on top of your cupcake batter. Top cheesecake with enough batter to make bays ¾ full.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20-22 minutes, rotating pans half way through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, and cool for five minutes in the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, cream together your cream cheese and butter until smooth. Stir in your strawberry puree until incorporated. Slowly add in your powdered sugar until combined, and then whip for five minutes until light and fluffy. Frost to your liking, and sprinkle with extra graham cracker crumbs.

Enjoy! KC

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