We all know I’m not much of a pastry cook. My sweet tooth is underdeveloped. I have a terrible habit of eyeballing measurements in the kitchen, meaning chemistry-heavy recipes like cakes and pastries have a habit of falling flat in my hands. As a now part-time food blogger, I have been making a concerted effort to hone my skills in this area, since I come up a little lacking when you stack it up to the rest of my kitchen prowess. On top of all that, despite going to art school, I lack the dedication, dexterity and panache to pull off elaborate cake decorating.
However… it was Colin’s birthday this week. Rainy, mid-week, he worked long hours so we couldn’t even plan drinks with friends to celebrate. I mean, jeez, I had to do something special for the guy.
Late dinner, by request, was his favourite treat meal- this Restaurant-Style Beef Tenderloin and Fresh Pasta. Knowing I am not much for sweets, he didn’t even bother requesting a dessert, but I still knew I should come up with something- I may lack a sweet tooth, but (most of the time) I don’t lack basic human decency.
Colin loves cheesecake but, after perusing all my favourite cheesecake recipes I realized I simply didn’t have enough time to put one together- mixing, baking and then fully cooling. Maybe I do lack some decency… jeez, this guy is supposed to be my favourite person and I couldn’t even get it together to think of a birthday cake a whole day in advance?
Deep down, I know he would have probably been satisfied with an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen or even just a stack of pre-made Belgian Waffles from the grocery store but like… what kind of a spouse- nay- what kind of food blogger would I be then? Self-inflicted pressure to perform.
Cheesecake… cupcakes. Cupcakes are easy. No one can screw up cupcakes, this isn’t Breton Butter Cake. Cupcakes are easy and quick! YES.
So, here we are. Fluffy cupcakes infused with a touch of vanilla and Grand Marnier, stuffed with a bit of strawberry cheesecake, and then topped off with a good whack of cheesecakey deliciousness in the form of cream cheese icing, graham cracker crumbs and a slice of fresh strawberry. Phew!
I am happy to report, these were a hit. They might not the the prettiest or the most elaborately decorated but hey- if I pulled this off after a long day of work, with limited baking skill and a speedy fire under my butt, it means anyone can make these with great success.
Also, I got him a really nice bottle of scotch. Sometimes a girl needs a back up plan, just in case.
|Strawberries & Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes|| |
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 2½ cups milk
- 1½ tsp vanilla
- 2 Tbsp Grand Marnier, Cointreau or other orange liqueur
- Zest of two oranges (optional)
- 3 eggs
- 3¾ cups flour
- 2½ tsp baking soda
- 2½ tsp baking powder
- Cupcake filling:
- 1 cup cream cheese
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 Tbsp strawberry jam
- Cream cheese icing:
- 2 cups cream cheese
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Garnish with:
- Fresh strawberries, halved
- Graham cracker crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners.
- Cream together the butter and sugar for the cupcakes. I like to use a stand mixer for this with the paddle attachment, but it is certainly not necessary- work those arms if you like!
- In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 eggs, milk, vanilla, Grand Marnier and orange zest.
- In a third bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and baking powder together.
- Add a third of the egg mixture to the butter mixture, followed by a third of the flour mixture. Stir to combine and then repeat until all the ingredients are well blended together- if you are using a stand mixer, make sure to scrape down the sides after each round.
- Pour the cupcake batter into the cupcake liners.
- Mix together all the cupcake filling ingredients until well blended. Spoon a tablespoon of the filling on top of each cupcake, gently dipping the spoon to the bottom each time (this will help the filling sink down into the batter instead of just staying on top). Bake for 25 minutes and then let cool.
- Mix all of the icing ingredients together until completely smooth- we don't want clumps of butter in our icing, trust me, I have made that mistake before. Load the icing into a piping bag to top each cupcake, or just spread it on with a knife- it's all aesthetics at this point and either way will taste just as delicious. Top each cupcake with a sprinkle of graham cracker crumbs and a halved strawberry.