Monday, March 26, 2012

Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes and Cake Pops

The past few weeks I've been going through quarts of strawberries as if they were number one on the list of America's disappearing foods. Almost daily, I'm making a quick pit stop at the grocery store to stock up. For breakfast, using my Ninja, I blend together 5 strawberries, a scoop of chocolate protein powder and a cup of coconut milk. Starting my day the healthy way gives me the energy and nutrients I need to make it through my day without getting that mid morning fatigue. For lunch, I throw together a spinach salad with strawberries, grilled chicken and a light lemon poppy vinaigrette dressing. Eating that many strawberries, means a quart lasts me no longer that two days. Fresh from the grocery store, I just brought home 4 pounds of strawberries! It's only appropriate that this week's recipe would feature this popular red fruit.

I recently discovered a bag of candy sticks that I forgot I had so I thought it was the perfect time to try another attempt at cake pops! When creating a flavor combination, I wanted to pick something light and airy that would compliment the strawberry. A lemon cake was my first thought (plus I had a box mix in stock!). For the pops, I combined the lemon cake with a strawberry frosting, dipped in white chocolate and decorated with colored sanding sugar. I know I've said this before, but dipping things in chocolate is not my forte! From the melting, to the dipping and drying, I just can't get it right! I've actually been thinking about signing up for a class called The Art of Chocolate at our local candy store. Hopefully with some professional instruction, I can master the technique. Despite the chocolate challenge, I have to say, I was pretty impressed with the way the pops turned out. While they are not perfect, the imperfections are easily hidden by colorful decorations.

For the cupcakes, I simply reserved a portion of the lemon cake batter that I made for the pops and divided it evenly among three jumbo cupcake liners. Initially the cupcakes were not in my baking plan, but I found these liners in my supply closet and thought they were perfect for the flavor combination. Topped with a fresh strawberry buttercream frosting, I came up with the idea to use sliced strawberries to create a flower design on each cupcake. A cake ball decorated with yellow sanding sugar was used to create the center of the flower. I was so excited with the end result, they turned out so pretty! Once summer rolls around, I'm thinking of re-creating this idea in a strawberry shortcake version...maybe for 4th of July?!

Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes and Cake Pops

For the Cake Pops
1 box Betty Crocker Lemon Cake Mix
1 Can Pillsbury Strawberry Frosting
24 Candy Sticks
1 bag Baker's White Chocolate Baking Chips
Sanding Sugar or other decorations as desired

-Mix and bake the cake as directed on the back of the box
-Let the cake cool for approximately 20 minutes
-While the cake is still slightly warm, crumble into small pieces and place in a large mixing bowl (try using a hand mixer to crumble the cake!)
-Add the container of strawberry frosting and mix until well combined
-Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper
-Insert a candy stick into each cake ball
-Place in the freezer until firm
-Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave
-Dip each cake pop into the chocolate mixture and coat entirely
-Decorate as desired and place into the freezer until chocolate has harden

For the Cupcakes
-Reserve a portion of the lemon cake mix, enough to fill three jumbo cupcake liners
-Bake according to directions
-To make the frosting, mix 1/2 cup shortening, 1/2 stick butter (softened), 2 cups confectioner's sugar, 2 tbsp milk, 3 large strawberries diced (make sure the strawberries are diced small enough to fit through the tip of the piping bag)
-Using a piping bag, top each cupcake with a generous amount of buttercream frosting
-Slice 4 large strawberries length wise and top each cupcake with 5 slices, forming a flower design
-Place a cake ball in the center of each design


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