Thursday, May 20, 2010

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Em and I were looking for a good dessert to make the other day and she said she'd been wanting to try these for some time, and since I had all the ingredients, it sounded good to me! We got the recipe off Annie's Eats.

And these were soooooooooooooo so so so so so so good. The cupcakes were so divinely good that I just wanted to eat them all before we even got around to doing the frosting (which was a dud, by the way). We had some serious frosting issues. First off, Emily melted the butter, so it was too liquidy. Then we added the vanilla, which was too strong. Then we refrigerated it overnight to thicken it and added the puree, but added too much so it was runny. That is why our cupcakes have swirls instead of nice puffs of frosting on top. Oh well. It still tasted really good, even if it didn't look that pretty.

I will list the frosting recipe with changes I made so that it won't look like the frosting in my picture, but will hopefully be stiff and look nice, not just taste nice. :)

Makes about 24 cupcakes

For the cake:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. lemon zest
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped

For the lemonade syrup:
1/3 cup lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the frosting:
1 cup fresh strawberries, roughly chopped
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature (but not too soft)
18 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature (but not too soft)
2 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 tsp. lemon juice
couple drops of strawberry extract if you can find it

For garnish:
Fresh strawberries
Lemon slices

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line muffin pans with paper liners.  In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.  Stir together with a fork and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until it is light and fluffy.  Add the sugar and beat until well combined.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl and beat on low speed until just incorporated.  Add in the milk and mix until smooth.  Add in the remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed until just blended.  Fold in the fresh strawberries with a spatula.

Divide the batter evenly between the paper liners, filling them about 3/4 full.  Bake about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, whisk together the lemonade concentrate and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl to make the lemonade syrup.  Poke several holes in the top of each cupcake with a skewer and spread a teasepoon of the syrup over the cupcakes, allowing it to soak in.

To make the frosting, puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender.  Strain the puree through a mesh sieve to remove the seeds, and set aside.  Beat the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and very fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.  Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.  Mix in strawberry puree, a tablespoon at a time, until you achieve your desired texture and flavor of frosting.  We ended up using all our puree (one of the reasons our frosting was so runny) and still didn't think the frosting had a strong enough strawberry flavor.  I'd recommend a couple drops of strawberry extract.  Frost cupcakes as desired and garnish with fresh strawberries and lemon slices.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Creamy Lime-Cilantro Ranch Dressing

I found a recipe way back when for the dressing used on Salads from Cafe Rio/Costa Vida. Although it didn't taste the exact same, it was pretty close. But I found it was kinda hit and miss; sometimes it was good and other times it just wasn't. I love their dressing, but I love Bajio's best.

Well, this recipe is the closest I have ever come! We made the salad for dinner tonight and it was so dang good! This dressing had a little bite to it, but it was so good! And even the little munchkin liked it! Now I just need to find a recipe for everything else they put in their salads. I found a super good chicken marinade, but nothing seems to be as juicy as their stuff all is. Oh well. I will perfect this someday!

Here is the dressing recipe that I found on Our Best Bites.

1 pack (1oz) Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
1C mayo
1/2 C milk
1 lime
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 C roughly chopped cilantro
1/4 C green salsa
hot sauce

This recipe is pretty tricky...dump it all in the blender and mix until combined. Don't add the hot sauce until you taste how spicy the dressing is. I used a green salsa that was quite spicy, so it didn't need any of the hot sauce.

Once it's combined, give it a few hours in the fridge before using it to allow it to thicken a little bit. Then enjoy over a tasty salad or as a dip.