Zoe turned two last week, and the party decorations are still up. Perhaps, I’m hoping that if I leave them up she’ll stay just as she is, and I can enjoy her sweet two year old self just a bit longer. Just a wish…after all, I did help her blow out the candle.
Zoe is just the cutest, most sweetest thing right now. She is always so happy. When I go to get her in the morning I say, “Good morning Sunshine!” and then she immediately wants me to open her blinds to let the sunshine into her room (even if there isn’t any). She is talking non-stop, and is so patient while we figure out what the heck she is saying. The most common phrase uttered all day long from my polite princess is, “Tank you!” She says it so much that her older brothers get annoyed at her for saying it.
She loves babies (especially cousin Mary-who is defined as any baby with dark hair) and any other friends to play with. She loves going in the car, going for walks, going for bike rides and wants to go, go, go (sounds about right for a two year old, right?). She always wants up on the counters while I am in the kitchen and sneaks bits of food (even if it’s raw onions…and then she’ll take it out and say, “here go mama” and hand it back).
She is a girly girl always wanting to care for her baby dolls, put my make up on, and try on shoes (hers, mine, or yours if you take ‘em off). She got a Cupcake Kitchen for her birthday (I may have been more excited about this than her) and has been making us all delicious dinners since (she serves us and cleans up after us too-Angel!). She is the happiest girl I know. It has been so much fun having her around. I love her so much and can’t imagine life without her, luckily I don’t have to.
One of Zoe’s favorites foods is still strawberries. She eats almost anything, but will request “berries pease” with a big cheesy grin, and I find that hard to resist. If you remember, last year for her very first birthday cake, I made this and we all enjoyed it thoroughly. This year, I found myself drawn to the “berries” again. I wanted to try something a little different though, Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes. However, when I went searching with my friend Google, I kept finding recipes with the dry strawberry lemonade powder mix in them, and I wanted the real deal for my girl.
So I kept searching, and then I did what I almost always do, improvise. Here’s how I went about making my version of Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes. I found a homemade Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate Recipe and started there (keeping some of the strawberry puree for the frosting). Then I found a tasty Lemon Blueberry Cake recipe and substituted chopped strawberries for blueberries, and also added strawberry lemonade concentrate to the batter instead of lemon extract. Next, I whipped up a delicious Strawberry Buttercream, adding in more Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate. In the end, it was a wonderful Spring Birthday Cupcake, and most importantly one that Zoe loved. Oh, and on a side note, I used the rest of the Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate for you guessed it! Strawberry Lemonade! It was pretty tasty too.
Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate*
Puree the following in a blender:
2 cups strawberries, chopped (measured after the berries have been chopped)
2 tsp sugar
Put 3 Tablespoons of strawberry puree through a fine sieve to remove the seeds, and set aside for the Strawberry Buttercream Frosting.
To the rest of the strawberry puree, mix in:
Zest of two large lemons
3/4 cup sugar
1/2-1 cup lemon juice, depending on how lemony you want it
2 cups plus 6 tablespoons flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 cups fresh strawberries, chopped (measured after they chopped)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla (I used vanilla paste)
6 Tbsp Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate
Zest of 1 large lemon
2 sticks butter, unsalted and at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Prepare 24 muffin cups with liners.
In a medium bowl, toss 2 tablespoons of the flour with the strawberries and set aside. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients and set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together milk, sour cream, vanilla, strawberry lemonade concentrate, and lemon zest; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat the eggs in one at a time, until combined. Alternating, mix in the flour and milk mixtures; beginning and ending with the flour. Once combined, fold in the strawberries. Using an ice-cream or cookie dough scoop, divide the batter amongst the cupcake tins, filling about 2/3rds full.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Carefully (they’re hot!) remove the cupcakes immediately from the pan onto a wire cooling rack.
Whipped Strawberry Lemonade Buttercream
1 stick butter, unsalted and at room temperature
2-3 cups powdered sugar, depending on how sweet you want it
1 tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
3 Tbsp saved strawberry puree
2-3 tsp strawberry lemonade concentrate
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter for 5 minutes on medium speed until it turns very creamy. Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla paste, and mix on low for 1 minute, then on high for 6 minutes. Add in strawberry puree and lemonade concentrate; mix till incorporated. If needed, add more powdered sugar to thicken frosting or add more lemonade concentrate to thin out frosting.
This was just enough frosting for my cupcakes and I didn’t get too fancy with decorating them, just a quick dollop for each and top with freshly sliced strawberries.
*PS-I think I added about 5 cups of cold water to the rest of the Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate to drink it. It was very refreshing and delicious too.