Alcohol can lend great flavor to sweet and savory recipes, so the Spiked! Recipe Challenge encourages bloggers to create or adapt a recipe to include alcohol. The January challenge was to include champagne (or other sparkling wine).
This was perfect for me, because I had half a bottle of leftover champagne from New Years. (I know, I know — leftover wine?!? What’s that?!?) I even had a general idea in mind. I wanted to play on the traditional pairing of strawberries and champagne.
I considered trying my strawberry macarons again, with champagne buttercream filling. But with limited time to get the perfect results, I decided to make strawberry cupcakes with champagne buttercream frosting.
The fresh strawberries make these cupcakes so moist with a bright flavor. I used frozen strawberries to make my puree, but during peak strawberry season, fresh strawberries will work just as well. The puree turns these cupcakes a beautiful shade of pink. It’s your choice whether to strain the strawberry seeds out of the puree or not. I chose not to, and didn’t find the seeds bothersome.
Reducing the champagne concentrates the flavor of the wine, so you can add more flavor without affecting the consistency of the icing. Boiling also burns off some of the alcohol content, but not all of it. It’s a small amount of alcohol in the big picture, so I promise not to judge if you let your kids have a taste.
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 ½ cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 (10-oz) package frozen strawberries, thawed with juices reserved, pureed
- 3 cup cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with paper liners.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter with the sugar until lightened and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, beating and scraping down the bowl between each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract and the strawberry puree until combined, then continue beating another 3 minutes.
- Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add one third of the dry ingredients to the bowl, and stir to combine. Add half the buttermilk, and stir to combine. Add another third of the dry, stir, then the remaining buttermilk and stir, then the final third of the dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
- Divide the batter into the cupcake liners, filling each cup half full. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire cooling rack. Let the cupcakes cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then remove and let sit on the wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
- ½ cup champagne or other sparkling wine
- whites only from 5 large eggs
- 1 ½ cup sugar
- 1 lb unsalted butter, softened
- Place the champagne in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil or 5 minutes, or until reduced to ¼ cup. Set aside to cool completely.
- Fill a medium saucepan with one inch of water. Set over high heat until water simmers, then reduce heat to low. Place the egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer, and set the bowl over the simmering water. Whisk until the egg whites are foamy. Add the sugar to the bowl and continue whisking constantly until the sugar has dissolved.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and place in the stand mixer. Whisk with the whip attachment on high until the meringue reaches soft peaks. Lower the speed to medium, and add the softened butter in 2-tbsp chunks, waiting until each chunk is fully incorporated before adding more.
- Add the reduced champagne one tablespoonful at a time, stirring to incorporate after each addition and tasting. Continue adding one tablespoonful at a time until you are satisfied with the flavor.
- Once satisfied with the flavor, increase speed to medium-high and whip until mixture becomes thick, creamy and smooth. Refrigerate if not using immediately. Bring to room temperature and re-whip before using.