I login to my computer. Google, “strawberry champagne cupcakes.” Get about a million results that pretty much look identical. Oh, but not this one.
So if you don’t already know, I have a weird penchant for originality. I like to focus on individual art and creativity with every recipe, whether it’s pertaining to the ingredients or the overall design of the dessert. But, it doesn’t have to be overly elaborate or aesthetically complex. Just… innovative, imaginative, and unique. In other words, simply original.
Unfortunately with this case, I didn’t know if originality was by my side because come on, we’re talking about a winning combination here. Only strawberries combined together with sparkling champagne make a foolproof combination: the strawberries beautifully enhance the rich flavor of the champagne, period. It’s a total given. You can’t go wrong with a pair like this one, so how in the world was I going to be original with the ingredients?
A simple solution: experimenting with the perfect strawberry-to-champagne RATIO with both the cake and the buttercream. Even perfect combinations can go completely wrong if the flavors aren’t evenly balanced. Dun-dun-dunnnn. Well, I knew what I was going to do that day. *puts on scientist goggles*
I bring you “Sparkling Strawberry and Champagne Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream.” Wait, let me try that again. “The Best Sparkling Strawberry and Champagne Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream!”
My first experimental batch was a complete fail. My first thought was to equalize the strawberry-to-champagne ratio, but I had a bad feeling about this in the back of my head. After taking just one bite into the cupcake, my mind became utterly intoxicated (just kidding! PG13 here hehe). The rich flavors of the wine I used were too rich and it even left a sour aftertaste (maybe due to the baking soda and the lack of an acidic ingredient oopsie). So my second thought was to decrease the amount of champagne and increase the strawberry, which changed my ratio to about 3:1… Yeah, not the greatest of ideas either. The strawberry was much too overpowering and the champagne tasted as if it completely dissipated from the cupcakes. In regards to color, the cupcakes were a very ugly shade of pink (almost like a raspberry color), which wasn’t the color I was going for. Failed cupcakes after more failed cupcakes, I FINALLY came to the perfect ratio…
1.25 : 0.75
I know this looks like a confusing ratio, but it’ll make more sense in my recipe!
I saw my fair share of either too dry or too dense cupcakes, but this ratio evened out everything! The moistness of the cake was just divine and the flavors perfectly bounced off each other. My favorite part of these cupcakes was (hands-down) the fruity aftertaste these cupcakes left. I mean, yes, it was a combination of strawberries and wine, but my mind was definitely frolicking in a field of fruity “somethings” that didn’t include neither the strawberries nor the wine. If you took a bite into this cupcake, you would’ve believed me if I said that this exotic taste was a new fruit that had just been discovered. The taste was just breathtaking. Too good to be true. My friends who tried out my cupcakes couldn’t pinpoint the taste either. Trust me when I say this, but it was simply just an explosion of fruity goodness. Guhhhhhhh, just thinking about them puts me back to that beautiful fruity field. Seriously, beware of future hallucinations after eating these cupcakes.
I realized that I like it when my flavors are noticeable, and I love it when ALL my flavors are noticeable and balance each other out. To go above and beyond, I divided my cake batter into two bowls and dyed one of them pink to give off that “fruity” strawberry look. I poured both colors into each muffin cup and swirled each with a toothpick to achieve that whirl effect. I also piped the cupcakes with a strawberry swiss meringue (something not too sweet!) to calm the rich fruity flavors of the cake. If you’re aiming for less fruity, try out a light vanilla swiss meringue buttercream instead. You can find the recipe to that buttercream on my website! Hope you can say that this is the “best” strawberry and champagne cupcake recipe out there! ;)
- 2½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1½ cup sugar
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 1¼ cup sour cream
- ½ tsp salt
- 1¼ cup strawberry (puree more for buttercream)
- 3 large eggs
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- ¾ cup sparkling wine (I used Ballatore)
- Pink food coloring
- ⅔ cup egg whites (about 4 large egg whites)
- 1¼ cup sugar
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, sliced and softened
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup strawberry puree
- 4 oz. melted chocolate in bag
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin pans with cupcake liners.
- Measure out about 2 cups of the strawberry and blend in a blender or food processor until it becomes a puree. Reserve the remaining puree for the buttercream.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
- In the bowl of the stand mixer, combine and champagne, eggs, puree, and oil on medium high spend for 2 minutes. Add the flour mixture in three additions, mixing after each.
- Divide the batter into two bowls. Dye one half pink.
- Pour each batter into each muffin cup. Alternate pink and white. At the end, take a toothpick and swirl each muffin cup to create swirl effect.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes after done.
- If you’re trying to frost at least 24 cupcakes, please make two batches of the buttercream!
- Combine egg whites and sugar in a stand mixer bowl and place it over (not on) simmering water. Heat mixture to 160 degrees F while whisking constantly.
- Transfer mixer bowl to stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium high speed (speed 8 on a KitchenAid stand mixer) until mixture cools, doubles in volume and forms stiff peaks; about 10-12 minutes.
- Add butter in one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. The mixture may appear clumpy and almost curdled looking at first—this is normal. Keep mixing and it will become even and smooth again.
- Add salt and the puree, mix until combined.
- Pipe the strawberry swiss meringue onto each cupcake with your favorite tip.
- Drizzle with the melted chocolate.