The art of icing is actually a lot easier than most people think. There's not much to a great icing-- butter, confectioners' sugar, maybe some milk, a dash of vanilla, a bit of salt, and of course any other flavor you want to incorporate into the mix. For years though, I've only played with the easy flavors...vanilla, chocolate, and lemon. You either make the recipe just how you're supposed to; you add a little mocha powder instead of just confectioners' sugar; or even better, you toss in a little lemon juice. And voila! You have your homemade icing.
But sometimes a girl wants to make strawberry-lemonade cupcakes, right? Right. So here's where the difficulties come into play. The recipe is the same, but now I have to add a high water content fruit. And a sometimes tart one at that. My first attempt at this icing was with chopped strawberries...and it kind of worked? The flavor was right, nice and fluffy with a bit of that syrup-y sweet strawberry taste we all love. But then you chewed a piece of strawberry and got that kick of sour. Sounds like Heaven so far, right? Kind of.
The problems settled in when the icing began to settle to room temperature. The juices in the strawberry were released and that made the icing a little watery in general. So then there were streaks of strawberry sliding down the edge of the cupcake. Not as cute.
So this time around, I was making a decadent chocolate velvet cupcake-- a light and fluffy cake that needs very little to make it any more incredible. But I would never leave a cupcake naked, that would just be cruel. Especially because I just got these awesome cupcake lingerie liners that are peeled off after cooking is complete. And while a piece of chocolate cake is incredible anyway you slice it, I just felt wrong leaving that little cake out there in the cold in it's birthday suit.
Here's what I did:
1 cup (softened) unsalted butter
a pinch of coarse salt
6 tbs. strawberry puree
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
The trick is to mix the butter with the salt right off the bat to get the creamy and salty flavors incorporated. Then I used my smoothie maker to puree about ten strawberries. Before adding in the strawberries, I slowly blended in the confectioners' sugar, one cup at a time. Then came the vanilla. (Thank goodness, because this icing was literally just butter and sugar...amazing, but not very icing-like). Once those were all tossed in, I just added the puree two tablespoons at a time until I got to my chosen flavor. Enough strawberry that covers up the insane amount of confectioners' sugar, without going over the top. And at the end of the six tablespoons, I decided to throw in three drops of red food coloring. Because you can never have too much pink or red on top of your cake, right? Right.
Yes, I just admitted to liking the color pink on my cake. I dare you to laugh at me.
Anyhow, so that's where I ended up. Now I have about twenty chocolate velvet cupcakes smothered in my strawberry puree butter-cream icing sitting on the counter of my apartment. This could end badly.