Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

My sister recently had a big dinner for her birthday (she turned 29…again) and had one request for me: “make me strawberry cupcakes! Strawberry UNICORN cupcakes!” I love making cupcakes, so I quickly obliged. And you know what? This is definitely one of my favorite recipes yet.

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That icing is my favorite. 

Some cupcake recipes can start with a boxed mix as a base. In fact, a couple of my favorite cupcake recipes start that way. With strawberry, however, you really need to make your cupcakes from scratch so they don’t have that fake strawberry taste. Thankfully, as long as you have a food processor, using real strawberries in your baking is incredibly easy.

I adapted a recipe I found online, and added my own special cream cheese frosting-and UNICORN horns and ears! Check out the recipe below.

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The final product.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 12 Strawberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1⅔ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

For the frosting

  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1.5 pounds (about 5 3/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Makes 12-16 cupcakes

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Pulse about 4 strawberries in a food processor to get about ⅓ cup chunky puree and set aside. Puree about 8 strawberries in a food processor to get about ½ cup + 2 tablespoons of liquid puree and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, beat 2 egg whites with a mixer into stiff peaks. Dispose of their yolks.
  4. Melt butter in a large microwave safe bowl on medium power for about 30-60 seconds. Stir in sugar, then stir in 1 full egg, yogurt, milk, vanilla, and ½ cup strawberry liquid puree (not the chunks yet).
  5. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet and gently stir until there are no lumps in the batter. Gently fold in the egg whites, strawberry chunks, and lemon zest. (Make sure to be gentle so that the batter stays light and airy).
  6. Divide evenly between the 12 cupcake lined muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. Once cupcakes are completely cool, make frosting as indicated below.
  8. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes. Add in the butter and continue beating for another 2-3 minutes.
  9. Turn the mixer down to low speed and gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar until it is completely incorporated. Add in vanilla and mix until incorporated. Turn off the mixer and check the frosting for taste and texture. Turn the mixer back up to medium-high speed and beat the mixture for about 3-4 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  10. Make filling by combining 2 tablespoons of frosting with the 2 tablespoons of liquid strawberry puree set aside during cupcake making. Cut ½” diameter holes in cupcakes, making sure not to go through the bottom (I went about half way down the cupcake). Fill cupcake with 1 teaspoon each of the filling then cover with the piece of cupcake originally removed.
  11. Pipe the remaining frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.

Enjoy!

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