Champagne is my secret ingredient the last couple of weeks, apparently. After my less-than-thrilling pear cakes last week, I still had quite a bit of champagne left to use. So I used another recipe from Couture Cupcakes, this one for strawberry champagne cupcakes. The recipe from the site is as follows:

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup champagne
  • 1/4 cup strawberry puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125g / 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  1. Preheat oven to 180 (35). PG's note: this is supposed to be 356.
  2. Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners.
  3. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add egg and beat for 30 seconds.
  5. Add flour, salt, baking powder, strawberry puree and champagne and beat until combined, about a minute.
  6. In a medium bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  7. Gently fold a third of the stiff egg white into the batter until there are light streaks of egg white in the batter.
  8. Fold in the remaining egg white into the batter until the egg white is well incorporated into the batter.
  9. Evenly divide the batter into the cupcake liners and bake in the oven for 20 -24 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
I once again substituted self-rising flour for the flour, salt, and baking powder. I also rediscovered what a giant pain in the ass it is to separate egg whites. My first attempt was disastrous--the yolk popped and I dropped some shell shards in. So I started over. I never did really get "stiff peaks" no matter how long I whipped the egg whites, though; I had to settle for soft peaks.

Now the problem with this is that I randomly decided to bake at two in the morning. But I had to do dishes first, and by the time I actually started it was closer to three. I wasn't at my best. My brain saw that "180 (35)" and assumed the smaller number was the Celsius conversion. So I set the oven to 180 degrees. I thought that was a really low temperature, but I thought maybe they needed to bake extra slowly so the egg white-induced leavening wouldn't collapse.

But after twenty minutes, the batter was just barely starting to solidify. I gave it another ten; still no significant change. Another twenty .... and it suddenly dawned on me that, uh, 35 Celsius is not 180 Fahrenheit! 180 Celsius is, however, 356 Fahrenheit. So I cranked the oven up, and within minutes they were done.

I didn't have any white chocolate, which the original recipe calls for in the frosting, so I modified the cream cheese frosting I used for the mango cake--I just used champagne instead of wine, and added 1/4 strawberry puree.

  • 1/2c softened butter
  • 4oz softened cream cheese
  • 2c powdered sugar
  • 2 T champagne
  • 1/4 c strawberry puree
  • Cream butter until fluffy.
  • Add cream cheese and blend well.
  • Add in powdered sugar slowly--I did about 1/4c at a time.
  • Pour in wine and blend thoroughly.
The frosting tasted good, but it looked a little funny--not homogeneous, and sort of gloppy instead of creamy. They weren't very pretty cupcakes, but they tasted alright. They were even better after being frosted and refrigerated overnight. The cakes seemed a little dense and dry, which is why I made them again tonight with the correct temperature setting so they wouldn't dry out.

I used about 1/2 c of strawberry puree this time, as the first batch didn't seem to have much flavor. The batter was a lovely pink when I put it in the oven, and after 25 minutes of baking they were perfect. I'd filled the cups about half-full, and none overflowed. I got 18 regular cupcakes, plus six "square" ones--I'd put six paper liners in a small pan and filled them halfway, allowing them to spread out into roughly spare shapes.

For the frosting this time around, I left out the champagne; I thought maybe that was what had given the frosting its odd texture last time. I think it's the strawberry juice, though; I'd diced up five really big, juicy strawberries to blend in with the frosting.

I took most of the cupcakes in to work for my coworkers, who descended upon them and scarfed them down literally within two minutes. One woman ate one, and then announced, "I'm having another and I don't care who knows!" and dug into a second one. Everybody freaking loved them--I've gotten texts and Facebook messages about it hours later. I'm going to have to make a double batch next time!

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