Strawberries & Champagne Cupcakes

In 1990 Richard Gere introduced the world to champagne and strawberries in the movie Pretty Woman and lives were forever changed. Well, women’s lives were forever changed. I’ve not ever had champagne with a group of women without someone bringing up the fact that we were sans strawberries. It’s just a lovely combination. If you’ve never tried it, what’s wrong with you? Do it. All the cool kids are.

My mom and her coworkers were having a birthday party tonight at work for one of the nurses there (because, why deliver babies when there is food to be eaten?! No? That’s just me? OK…), and she asked me to make some cupcakes for the occasion. I hurriedly pulled up my Pinterest board entitled “Cupcake Blog” (are you following me on Pinterest yet? Why not?), and had her choose from my lengthy list of recipes that I plan on blogging about. She, of course, chose the most high maintenance recipe of them all: Strawberries and Champagne Cupcakes. *sigh* Mom…

I gave her a hard time for picking the one recipe on the entire page that has a prep time of FOUR HOURS (yes…four hours), but secretly was jumping with joy because I was desperate to make them. Champagne. Cupcakes. I was dying to see what this was all about! Sounds delightful and fancy.

Don’t let the whole”four hours” thing scare you off of making these. Are they time-consuming? Yes. Are they 1,000% worth it? YES. Plus, what takes so long is making the candied strawberry garnish on top, which I wasn’t completely fond of in the first place, if I’m being honest. I kind of think fresh strawberries would have been just as good, if not better. Make them, and judge for yourself. You won’t regret it. Not a chance. Have I mentioned these are SO GOOD?! So good.

Don’t let the plain appearance fool you: these are the best things ever.

Strawberries and Champagne Cupcakes
makes 18 cupcakes (I stretched it into 24)

Candied Strawberry Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
1 pint strawberries, hulled

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 egg whites
1 cup champagne (just get the cheap stuff- it won’t really matter)

Strawberry-Champagne Filling Ingredients:
Leftover simple syrup from candied strawberries
About 1/2 cup champagne
1 pint strawberries, hulled
*you WILL have a lot of this filling left over! You can either cut back on the ingredients (plan to use about 1 teaspoon per cupcake), or you can do what I did and save the rest to pour over vanilla ice cream!*
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Frosting Ingredients:
2 sticks butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1/4 cup champagne

Directions:
To make the candied strawberries: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Slice the strawberries as thinly as possible and dip them into the cooled syrup. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Set the syrup aside. Bake until dry but still bright red, about 3 hours. Immediately transfer the chips to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat in the egg whites one at a time. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the champagne, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Pour into the tins and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.

To make the strawberry filling: Take the remaining simple syrup and pour it into a measuring cup. Add enough champagne to equal 1 cup (you’ll need about 1/2 cup). Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture is reduced by about half. Whisk in the cornstarch and allow the mixture to thicken. Pour into a food processor and allow to cool. Add the strawberries and pulse until combined.

To make the frosting: Beat the butter with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla, salt, and champagne; beat until creamy.

To assemble the cupcakes: Using a small paring knife (I used an apple corer), remove the center of each cupcake, being careful not to go all the way to the bottom. Fill with a heaping teaspoon of filling. Using a star tip, pipe the frosting onto the top of each cupcake. Top with a couple of candied strawberries and serve! (And finish off the bottle of champagne- you earned it!)

See? Totally worth it. Make them and then tell me how much you love me for bringing these into your life.

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