Summer is in full swing here in the Mid-Atlantic, and we are loving another absolutely perfect, sunny, warm summer weekend. Not a cloud in the cerulean blue sky, just plenty of happy bright sunshine. My bees are busy coming and going, flying here and there, gathering the nectar and pollen they need to provide me with the absolutely best crop of honey around.
One of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of fresh, local fruits and veggies: summer squashes and lettuces and tomatoes, peaches and melons and of course, all the berries. Loads and loads of all kinds of berries – strawberries and blueberries and raspberries – when the berries are ripe for picking, it’s a sure sign summer has begun.
Strawberry picking has been a rite of summer for as long as I can remember. Of course, back in the day, pick-your-own berries was something we did as way to save a few pennies. My mom would pack all of us in the old station wagon and drive us to the nearest pick-your-own farm, arm us each with our own berry container and send each of us to our own row to begin picking, simultaneously admonishing us to stop eating so many and to “please stop pestering your sister!” We would bring home mounds and mounds of red, juicy strawberries which were macerated for strawberry shortcake or turned into jars of ruby-red strawberry jam, each topped within its own paraffin wax seal.
Now it costs more to pick your than it does to by them pre-picked at the grocery store, but I still like to head to the nearest berry farm each June to pick a basket or two. Of course, my strawberries are now more likely to get mixed in with some greek yogurt and honey than to be made into jam, and more often than not, I pick way more than I can use. So I freeze some to remind me of summer when there’s snow on the ground, and I look for different ways to use the rest. Which was how I came up with these yummy cupcakes…strawberries and lemonade, two classic summer favorites, combined in one amazing cupcake, and swirled together for an unbelievably delicious buttercream topping….enhanced, of course, with some Sweet Revenge strawberry liqueur and Limoncello liqueur. Biting into one of these is like tasting the perfect summer day.
STRAWBERRY LEMONADE CUPCAKES
Because this recipe calls for two different buttercream frostings, I saved some time by starting with a boxed mix, but added in some extras to boost the flavors. Makes approx. 24 cupcakes.
1 box strawberry cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup Sweet Revenge liqueur
1/3 cup vegetable oil
juice of 1 small lemon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tin with paper liners.
Combine all ingredients in large bowl of a stand mixer, mixing at low speed for 30 seconds and then at medium speed for two minutes, scraping bowl one or twice. Fill cupcake tins about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
SWEET REVENGE STRAWBERRY BUTTERCREAM
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup fresh strawberry puree
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon Sweet Revenge
Cream butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar, strawberry puree and Sweet Revenge and mix at low speed until combined, then at high speed until light and fluffy. Spoon into a small pastry bag and set aside.
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
juice and zest of 1 small lemon
3 1/2 to 4 cups confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon Limoncello
Cream butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and Limoncello. Mix at low speed until combined and then at high speed until light and fluffy. Spoon into a separate small pastry bag.
Place both filled pastry bags side by side into one large pastry bag fitted with a large decorating tip. Frost as desired.