June is Strawberry Month at Urban Cottage Life, and today we’re celebrating with something inherently celebratory: cupcakes. What’s sweeter than a young child’s birthday party? I made these Strawberry Chocolate Cupcakes, topped with Strawberry Buttercream, for my second granddaughter’s third birthday in 2014. They made our celebration even sweeter.
The Recipe for a Happy Third Birthday Party
My second granddaughter, known around here as Littler Miss, turned three last week and I had the pleasure of hosting a small family birthday party Saturday afternoon to celebrate this happy occasion. For me, the ingredients for a young child’s birthday party are simple:
- The people who love them
- A few decorations such as a birthday banner, some balloons and a tablecloth
- Gaily packaged gifts
- Simple foods and beverages
- A cake or cupcakes in the birthday child’s favourite flavours and colours
I’m rather a minimalist when it comes to birthday parties. Generally, I don’t go in for elaborate themes and decor, although as children get older they definitely have more specific ideas about what they want. Nor is there a need for a lot of food at an afternoon party. Apart from the cupcakes, the serving table offered homemade seeded lavash bread and hummus, a bowl of crisps, a fruit tray, and a lovely baked brie with a cranberry topping and crackers contributed by a guest. Pretty wholesome, wouldn’t you say?
Strawberry Chocolate Cupcakes
Littler Miss likes chocolate and she likes strawberries. And as you might tell from the photos, she very much likes pink. So I brought all these elements together in a special cupcake created just for her. There’s strawberry puree in the batter, along with just a touch of cocoa for flavour and colour. And that buttercream is like a kiss of sweet strawberry on top. All natural colour, all natural flavour, all made with love. And, I’m happy to say, utterly enchanting to our three-year-old.
My experience with birthday parties for my children and now my grandchildren is that few kids are all that interested in cake. Some will eat some cake, others eat some frosting, but few ever eat a whole piece. Over the years, I’ve thrown out more cake than I care to think about. Children and adults alike are, however, drawn to the charm of cupcakes, especially when baked in fancy cups and displayed on a cupcake tree. And if they don’t eat the whole cupcake, there’s little waste. This proved a good thing, as Littler Miss licked the frosting off hers and didn’t even bite into the cake.
We all had a lovely time, and the look on the birthday girl’s face told me how much she loved everything about her party: almost as much as I love her 💞
Let’s Bake Strawberry Chocolate Cupcakes!
The chocolate in this cupcake is mild, so the taste of the strawberry purée still comes through in the cake. The melange of strawberry and cocoa resulted in a taupe colour with just a whisper of pink undertone. This recipe makes 15 medium-sized cupcakes, which rise up nicely and are moist. Since the buttercream is so sweet, I used less sugar than usual in the cupcake batter and found the final result still a flavourful treat, even without the frosting.
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup strawberry purée
Before beginning to make the cupcake batter, prepare the strawberry purée, using the method described below in Notes. Allow time for it to cool to room temperature. If making longer in advance, store covered in the refrigerator. If you will frost the cupcakes with our Strawberry Buttercream, make enough purée for that as well, starting with 1-1/2 cups of chopped strawberries.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 ℉. Set 15 cupcake liners into two cupcake tins. If using stiff paper cups as I did, set them on a baking tray.
Place the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. Pass the cocoa powder through a small sieve and stir into the other dry ingredients. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl, then slowly mix in the eggs, one at a time, along with the vanilla extract. Scrape the bowl and mix again.
Slowly stir in half the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then half of the strawberry puree. Scrape down the bowl well and repeat. To avoid overworking the batter, finish the mixing process by hand with a spatula.
Using a small ice cream scoop (3 tablespoons in size), fill the baking cups about 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake.
Set the cupcakes on a rack to cool. Frost with this strawberry buttercream.
Making Strawberry Purée
If you don’t have strawberry purée on hand, here’s how to make some ahead of time. Ensure you cool the purée to room temperature before adding it to the buttercream to avoid melting the butter in it.
No sugar is required for this purée since the buttercream has more than enough sweetness to offset its tartness.
- Coarsely chop about 1 cup fresh or partially thawed frozen strawberries. Put them in a small saucepan with just a splash of water on the bottom (maybe a tablespoon or two). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then turn to a simmer. As they begin to soften, mash them with a fork.
- Cook until the syrup has cooked down until it’s thick and syrupy, and reduced to about a 1/2 cup (no less).
Looking for Other Pretty Birthday Cake Ideas?
Each one of these birthday cakes is special because they brought delight to my grandchildren. I made Chocolate Cake with Blackberry Jam Buttercream for my oldest granddaughter’s second birthday. Vanilla Cake with Raspberry Buttercream was for another Little Miss’s second birthday. Chocolate Strawberry Ice Cream Cake was a big hit for the oldest’s seventh birthday. Which one catches your eye?
First Published 2014 12 03
Republished 2020 06 04