I've joined the Iron Cupcake Challenge. The Iron Cupcake challenge is simialr to Iron Chef in that there is a secret ingredient that must be used in the cupcakes. This month's ingredient: Basil! When I heard this month's ingredient, my brain immediately went in two directions: Summer (strawberries, lemonade, basil) and also to Thai food. I came really close to making a Thai Basil cupcake with coconut, ginger, basil, and chiles but it seemed too close to last month's challenge of chiles. And also, Mike, my husband, was really pushing for strawberry! I was a little worried that basil in cupcakes would be really weird, but it was quite tasty.
As part of the Iron Cupcake challenge I am competing with other cupcake bakers in the internets to win fabulous prizes from our lovely sponsors:Etsy artist Metal Sugar, Head Chefs by Fiesta Products, Hello Cupcake by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, Jessie Steele Aprons, Cupcake Courier, and Taste of Home.
Note the recipe below has both high altitude and regular instructions. I have only tested at high altitude. This cupcake started with a Vegan Lunchbox recipe for vanilla cupcakes. Your house will smell amazing when you make these. And if you are scared of the basil, you can make this recipe without it. For plain old strawberry cupcakes, omit the basil and lemon juice.
End of Summer Vegan Strawberry Basil Cupcakes
2 1/8 cups cake flour or unbleached AP flour
2 tsp baking powder (1 tsp at high altitude)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/8 cup cane sugar
~3/4 qt organic strawberries (1 c. puree)
1 Tbsp cane sugar
16 basil leaves
2 T lemon juice
3/4 cup soy milk
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp natural strawberry flavor (Frontier brand)
1 tsp natural red food color (Select Natural brand)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or 375 at high altitude). Line muffin tin with paper cupcake liners (optionally spray paper liners depending on what kind you are using).
In large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Set aside.
In a food processor, puree the strawberrries with 1 Tbsp cane sugar. Tear the basil leaves and add them to the food processor along with lemon juice (so the basil does not turn black). Puree. Measure out 1 cup of the puree (you may have extra puree which you can either drink or consider adding to the frosting). Mix the strawberry puree with the soy milk, vinegar, vanilla, and strawberry flavor.
Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix with a hand-held mixer until smooth. Add the food color and mix to combine.
Fill each muffin cup to about 3/4 filled. Bake for 20-23 minutes. Cool in the pans for about 5 minutes and the move to a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting. See Strawberry frosting recipe below.
Makes 17-18 cupcakes.
Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
4 cups-ish of powdered sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) Earth Balance Margarine, softened
1/2+1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2+ 1/4 tsp strawberry flavoring
1 tsp natural red food color
Using a hand mixer, cream the butter and then add ~1/2 cup powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and strawberry extract and ~1 Tbsp soy milk. Beat with the mixer. Add more sugar (you will add the sugar very gradually). As the sugar incorporates, add more. If the mixture gets too dry, add more soy milk. Continue in this manner until the frosting looks almost white and is the right texture/stiffness for frosting the cake. Add the red coloring and mix until incorporated.
Sugared Basil Garnish
Wash basil leaves. Damp dry on a paper towel. Press each side of the leaf into the sugar.