Monday, October 26, 2009

A Girly Cupcake

This was one of those weekends that was eventful and exhausting, yet infinitely satisfying. The highlight of the past three days was attending an Indian classical dance performance at Yale University on Friday night. Dear readers, it was sublime. I always try to attend any kind of dance performance in my area, but Indian classical has always been my favorite, because it's so graceful and intricate, sensual and rhythmical. Most of these ancient classical styles have the dancer using his/her facial expressions, costume, hands, body and feet to tell a story - often a mythological tale of triumph or loss, jealousy or love, or simply celebrating the virtues of a god/goddess. It's fascinating stuff, and I never get tired of it.

I've been lucky enough to see some excellent, world-class performances so far, and Samarpita Bajpai was no exception. She did a Kuchipudi dance recital, which is one of the seven important Indian classical styles (one of the rarest ones, actually), and she is a master at it. It was great that she also explained what each dance was about before doing it, and she was so well-spoken and entertaining, that even the kids in the audience were completely enthralled (don't you love parents who drag their kids to cultural events?! Trust me kids, it may want to make you tear your hair out now but you'll thank them later!). We were also really lucky to have Samarpita perform an almost-extinct form of this temple dance (used to be performed in the 14th/15th centuries), called Simhanandini, where the dancer paints a picture using some really intricate footwork (in this case, a lion, which was what the goddess Durga used to ride on). She does tour all over the US and India, so if you get a chance to catch one of her shows, and you love dance, don't think about it - just go for it.

Now that I've done my small part in promoting the dance arts (see, you never know what you could learn when you visit my blog!), I have to dedicate the remaining portion of this post to singing the praises of the culinary arts! But wait, you don't need me to do that - you want to talk to the protagonist of this story herself. Dear readers, meet Ms. Girly Cupcake. Why is this cupcake so girly, you might ask? Well, first of all, it's a cupcake (when's the last time your guy asked for cupcakes?! not as often as you do, ladies). Secondly, it's a strawberry cupcake. Then it's pink. And really pretty. And very delicate. And did I mention that it's pink?!

My Girly-Yet-Secretly-Coveted-By-Guys Strawberry Cupcakes (using Cathy's recipe
from her brilliant blog, Gastronomy)
Makes 12 cupcakes

Click here for printable recipe

Ingredients for cupcakes:
2/3 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries (I used a mix of both)
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg whites

Ingredients for frosting:
1/2 cup frozen strawberries thawed
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
Pinch of coarse salt
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, preferably sifted
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. (I ran out of the paper liners, so used some of my silicone baking molds as well - but I prefer the paper liners any day; you'll see why in a bit)

2. Puree the 2/3 cup of strawberries till smooth - you should have about 1/3 cup of puree.
3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, vanilla and strawberry puree; set aside.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer (just think, a couple of months ago, I couldn't even make this darn recipe - oh how my world hath changed! For the better!) fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed till light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar until well combined. Reduce speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.

5. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture till just blended, then all the milk mixture till blended, and finally the remaining flour mixture till blended. (remember to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl)

6. Divide batter evenly in the baking pan, and bake the cupcakes for 22-25 mins. Transfer to a wire rack (also a recent purchase) and let cupcakes cool completely before icing.

7. For the frosting: Puree the strawberries. Once again using your electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and salt on medium speed till light and fluffy. Slowly add in the confectioners' sugar until well combined. Add vanilla and about 3-4 tbsp of the strawberry puree. Mix until just blended - do NOT overmix. Consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice-cream. Use a piping bag (like I did - my first time ever, so please forgive my amateur doodling) or an off-set spatula, or anything you please, go ahead and frost the cooled cupcakes. Refrigerate them for about 20-30 minutes before starting to devour them one by one.

Verdict: My main criteria for a successful cupcake is how moist and tender it is - and these were so on the money! They smelled amazing too - like walking through a field of strawberries every time you took a bite. The frosting was a little sweeter than I like, but it wasn't enough to bother me. Or DH. Yes, he had his fair share of these, though to be honest, I was the main perpetrator in polishing these off. They lasted for about 5 days in my fridge, without any problems. I just had to leave them out on the counter for a couple of hours before I wanted to eat them - so that they could soften up a bit. They're all gone now, and I miss them, because they were my oh-so-delicious bites of summer on a cold fall days. I wish I had prettier cupcake liners to display these in! My silicone molds are cute, but I found that the cupcakes rose better and were fluffier in the paper liners - see for yourself.

I'll be submitting these girly-pink cupcakes to the latest Girls Night In event over at Dragon Musings' blog. She is going Pink For October (to spread breast cancer awareness, bless her).


Foodiewife said...

I'm not a huge cupcake fan, only because I'm greedy and want a big slice of cake instead! You hit it on the money, again, by tempting me with strawberries. They are still being harvested where I live (don't hate me) and I could definitely imagine eating 1 (maybe two or three) of these in one sitting. Beautiful! Girly? Maybe...but my husband would love these.

Jennifer said...

I am so glad you have wonderful dances you can attend, we have nothing like that around here :(

Those cupcakes look yummy, I have never eaten a strawberry cupcake before! YUM

Gastronomer said...

Oooh! I love the dainty pastry tip you chose for the frosting. Extra-girly, for sure!

Mari said...

that looks like such a fun show....I am glad you had a good time =)

I will be emailing you my address so you know where to mail my cupcake ha j/k =). They look so tasty!

Unknown said...

I also really love indian classical dance (not that i do it or anything) just love it in the bollywood movies like Devdas. How fab that you got to see it in real life.
Love the cupcakes, they look scrumptious :D

Raje said...

Ms Girly cupcakes look gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

I love the pretty pink frosting on top!

Sweta (My Indian Dietitian) said...

What a lovely post-reminded me of the mother-daughter duo Mrinalini and Mallika Sarabhai who bought this dance form to the limelight. I learnt Bharathnatyam as a kid(10years), but I was always fascinated with the 'feet painting' and the 'plate dancing' of kuchipudi :)
Lovely cupcakes-I almost forgot to mention it!!

SilverMoon Dragon said...

Yum yum yum!

Oh where was this recipe last year? Finding a good strawberry cake recipe that didn't involve jello drove me bananas last year when Miss Three insisted on a pink strawberry cake with blue icing.

Strawberry is her favourite flavour, so these will go down a treat at anytime... I may just make some into fairy cakes for her Tinkerbell party next month too.

Thanks for joining us!

Parita said...

Wow these look so cute :-)

Finla said...

I love girlie cupcakes, it always make me so happy.
It is ages sinch i went to see a Indian classical dance perfomance.

Cathy said...

Yay for girly cupcakes!! What guy wouldn't secretly covet those?

I love going to any kind of dance/art show too. I'm taking my 13 year old goddaughter to the Moscow Ballet's rendition of Cinderella next week :)

Nizsha said...

Yummy girly cupcakes.I'll be trying them out soon and will let you know
Thanks for sharing the recipe and lovely pictures :)

Sushma Mallya said...

wow its so perfectly baked,love strawberries and eating it this way is even more nice...looks very delicious ....

NKP said...

I love all that strawberry goodness in them, delish!

Donna-FFW said...

Those dances sound wonderfully fun!!

Those strawberry cupcakes are a must try for me. My children love strawberries, bet these would go over well. They look so pretty.

Kerstin said...

The dance festival sounds so fun! And what cute pink girly cupcakes - they look SO good!

Deseree said...

Yum! I love the idea of strawberries in the fall, a great way to remember the days of summer. I think these cupcakes look scrupmtious and I think my husband would love them just as much as I would even though they are a little "girly". Thanks for stopping by my blog! :)

Jamie said...

The dance performance sounds wonderful, beautiful! Thanks for sharing it with us. And I'm not usually into pink dessert, but your cupcakes are lovely, girly and so luscious looking! Ok, I'll have one, please. Plus I can see eating them sitting and chatting with a group of girlfriends which is even better.

Joanne said...

So many of my guy friends request cupcakes. So so many of them. I wonder what that says about them...

These look delicious. I love all the pink and I just love strawberries in general. Great contribution to the breast cancer awareness event!

Your experience at the dance performance sounds like a lot of fun. I love doing artsy types of things but never seem to have enough time.

Lobster Gram Recipe Blog said...

Samarpita Bajpai has some great videos on YouTube. It must have been great to see that live.
Fantastic Cupcakes as well, they look just perfect!