Since I had never made any strawberry cupcakes before, I decided to start out by finding a plain strawberry cupcake I liked that I thought would work well with the addition of malted milk powder. The Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcake was my first strawberry cupcake to try. I chose to top mine with a strawberry version of my favorite basic cream cheese frosting. Unfortunately overall the hubby and I weren't totally in love with this cupcake. Despite only baking my cupcakes for 15 minutes they were on the dry side and lacked strawberry flavor. The frosting was okay, but oddly enough the cake masked the tangy flavor of the cream cheese that we love so much about this particular frosting recipe.
Despite receiving mixed reviews, I wanted so much to love these cupcakes. I thought the batter itself tasted divine and the cupcakes baked up so pretty--pale pink with perfect little domes. Honestly, I would be curious to try this recipe again in the future. I'd probably pull the cupcakes out of the oven before they were even fully set to hopefully keep them from drying out, and I'd likely try them as mini cupcakes to see if the smaller bite and larger cake to frosting ratio would aid in them not tasting so dry. I've been curious about using simple syrups to add flavor and moistness to cakes and if I could concoct a strawberry syrup for these cupcakes it could be the perfect thing to add a bit more flavor and much needed moisture.
All said, I don't think these cupcakes are exactly what I'm looking for to adapt into the strawberry malt cupcakes of my dreams. Perhaps with a little tweaking these could become the perfect strawberry cupcakes. I'll include the recipe below as I made the cupcakes, for those who are interested in giving them a try. I certainly can't compare them to any other strawberry cupcake recipes as they are the first I've baked (and really some of the only strawberry cupcakes I've ever tried). I do think they're quite cute, and as mini cupcakes could make a darling addition to a bridal or baby shower dessert spread.
Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
cake from Martha Stewart, frosting inspired by Milk and Honey Cafe
makes ~1 dozen
For the cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature
To make strawberry puree, start with approximately 2 cups fresh or frozen, thawed strawberries (I used frozen). Heat berries and a tablespoon or two of sugar in a small saucepan over low heat, mashing them with a potato masher or the back of a spoon. Cook the berries until they are very soft. Remove from heat and let cool. Blend the strawberries until smooth and strain to remove any large pieces.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and 1/3 cup of the strawberry puree; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes (mine only took about 15 minutes). Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup strawberry puree
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter until completely smooth. Add vanilla extract and beat until combined. Sift in 3 cups of powdered sugar until well incorporated and fluffy. Add strawberry puree and beat to combine. Taste frosting and check for consistency, if a sweeter flavor or thicker texture is desired, sift in an additional cup or more of powdered sugar, to taste.
Frost cooled cupcakes and store in the refrigerator until 15 minutes or so before serving.*
*Once my frosting had came together, it was still a bit runny to hold up well to piping. I chilled my frosting in the mixing bowl for about an hour, then beat it again briefly before frosting. If you aren't going to pipe your frosting, you could skip this extra chill without any problem.