Strawberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting **

From Confections of a Foodie Bride, The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook,

I had extra strawberries in my fridge due to a promotion at the grocery store.  Since we couldn't possibly eat 4 containers of strawberries before they spoiled, I decided to make some strawberry cupcakes.  I used this recipe for a strawberry cake and frosted with a cream cheese frosting.  The result was a quite satisfying snack :)

I used the strawberry cake recipe from Confections of a Foodie Bride and the cream cheese frosting recipe from the Magnolia Bakery.

For the Cake
1/4-1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature (4 whole eggs can be substituted, per reader comments)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup cake flour, sifted
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temp

For the Strawberry Puree
24 oz very ripe strawberries, hulled (or no-sugar-added frozen strawberries)
1-2 tsp sugar (optional)

1.  If frozen strawberries in whatever form (sliced, whole, etc) and in whatever container/bag you have them in. Pour into a fine strainer placed over a bowl and let sit. Lightly toss the strawberries occasionally to remove any pockets of excess liquid. Reserve the liquid for another use or discard (see FAQ above for alternate use of the liquid).

2.  If using fresh strawberries, just hull, slice and toss with a teaspoon or two of sugar and cover. Let them sit at room temperature for a couple of hours, until nice and juicy.

3.  Place strawberries in a food processor or blender and puree.

4.  Reserve 3/4 cup puree for the cake. (If you are using the cooked puree method from the FAQ above, you will only use 1/2 cup puree.)

5.  Use leftover puree to fill the cake or fold into the frosting, if desired (you will not have leftover puree if you use the cooked puree method). It's also fabulous spooned over ice cream... and eaten straight with a spoon.

6.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 12 cup cupcake pans with paper liners.

7.  In small bowl, combine puree, milk (if you used the cooked puree method in the FAQ above, you'll use 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of puree; if you did not cook your puree, use 1/4 cup of milk and 3/4 cup of puree), egg, vanilla and mix with fork until well blended. In bowl of stand mixer, add sifted flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix to combine. Continue beating at slow speed and add butter. Mix until combined and resembling moist crumbs.

8.  Add wet ingredients and beat at medium speed for about 1 minute or until full and evenly combined. Stop mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl and hand beat for 30 more seconds.

9.  Note: The batter will not get any pinker in the oven so if you're disappointed in the color from your berries, maybe consider adding a drop or two of pink or red food coloring.

10.  Divide the batter evenly among the cupcakes.

11.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (time will vary). Let cupcakes rest in pan for about 10 minutes and turn out onto wire racks. Let cakes cool completely (about 2 hours).

For the Frosting
1 pound (two 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, softened and cut into small pieces
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

5 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

1.  In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, about 3 minutes.

2.  Add the vanilla and beat well.

3.  Gradually add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating continuously until smooth and creamy.

4.  Cover and refrigerate icing for 2 to 3 hours, but no longer, to thicken before using.

5.  When the cake has cooled, spread the frosting liberally on the cupcakes