I was feeling very patriotic this weekend, partaking in poolside afternoons, barbecues, backyard parties and visits with family and friends. Even got some sun on my shoulders…the freckles are out in full force! It is the height of the summer and I’m loving it. We were invited to a barbecue at a friend’s house on the 4th for fun and firework-watching, and logically Matt volunteered us to bring dessert. I was in the mood to conquer swiss meringue buttercream again, so cupcakes were in order. I perused Martha’s 4th of July themed desserts and found these little bites of joy. They are fluffy vanilla (white) cakes with (blue)berries. Then I used the buttercream recipe from my margarita cupcakes, just played with the flavors a bit, and settled on adding (red) raspberries! Hence the red, white and blue cupcakes! Festive, and might I add quite delectably delicious!
For the cupcakes you will need:
3 1/4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
8 large egg whites, room temperature
3 cups blueberries (about 1.5 pints)
Preheat your oven to 325° with your racks in the middle and lower positions. Line your tins with liners and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, blend together the butter and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. After scraping down your bowl, reduce the speed to low and add in the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of the milk.
In another large bowl, beat your egg whites in high-speed until soft peaks form, about 8 minutes. * This is when having a second bowl for your standing mixer comes in handy…as using a hand-held mixer for 8 minutes is tiring and quite boring! Also, for the 8 egg whites, you can buy a carton of egg whites at the grocery store. It has the same effect and doesn’t require you throwing away the yolks. * OK, so once the soft beaks form, slowly pour in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Whip about 5 minutes longer, until glossy, stiff peaks form. Fold about 1/3 of the egg mixture to the batter, then carefully fold in the remainder. Rinse and dry the blueberries and then toss them with the remaining 1/4 cup of flour. Gently fold the blueberries into the batter. Divide the batter evenly in the prepared cupcake liners using an ice cream scoop like this one.
Bake for 23-25 minutes, rotating pans half way through (I rotated them at 11 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for around 10 minutes then remove to let cool completely on racks.
For the icing you will need:
2 cups sugar
8 large egg whites
pinch of coarse salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature – keep another 3 or 4 tablespoons on reserve
1 teaspoon raspberry extract
1 pint fresh raspberries
Combine the sugar, egg whites and salt in a heatproof bowl (glass or metal works best) and set over a pot of simmering water (or use a double boiler). It is important that you do not let any part of the bowl touch the water, this process just uses the steam from the water to cook the eggs and create the consistency we want. Heat, whisking frequently, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reads 160° on a candy thermometer like this one. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of your standing mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on medium-high speed until the mixture has cooled, soft peaks form and resembles meringue. This process takes every bit of 8 or 9 minutes. If it does not fit the description above, then keep whipping it! This is a very important step, because the frosting will not work if this mixture is not whipped enough.
Once your cooled mixture resembles meringue and soft peaks form when up lift up the whisk, reduce the speed to medium and add in the butter 2 tablespoons at a time. Don’t add the butter too fast, make sure each addition is incorporated before you add another. Once all of the butter is mixed in, the consistency should be light, fluffy and smooth. Add in your raspberry extract and fresh raspberries, mixing on low. This may thin the mixture and the consistency may start to look a bit curdled, but don’t panic…this is why you have a few extra tablespoons of butter. If you need to, add in your extra butter one tablespoon at a time until the mixture comes together again. *Remember, it needs to be thick enough to put in a bag and pipe onto the cupcakes!
Frost the cupcakes with a generous heap of the buttercream (I used a large star tip, which looked pretty) and decorate with either festive toppers or whole red raspberries. These are sure to be a hit at your next holiday or birthday event!
Time: 2 to 2 1/2 hours
Yields: about 3 dozen cupcakes
Adapted from: Martha Stewart