Monday, July 5, 2010

Red, White, and Blue

I don't know about you, but to me it doesn't quite feel like summer until we've had the Fourth of July festivities. Something about the barbequing, the drinks, the warm night, and the family getting together really does it for me. Not to mention the fireworks! Oh, and I love any excuse to bake! Even though I don't really need one to begin with.. at least this way I don't eat all the goods by myself (which I've been known to do..) I decided that I would bake festive vanilla cupcakes frosted with red, white, and blue buttercream and some fried strawberry pies. The fried strawberry pies were sort of a last minute thing, I originally wanted to bake individual cherry pies but time literally flew by that day and I already had the ingredients for the strawberry pies and they were so simple to assemble. All it is is strawberries, cornstarch, sugar, and *gasp* refirgerated pie crust! In the end, I had so much strawberry filling left over that I was able to cone out the middle of each cupcake, fill them, and reassemble before frosting them with this rich vanilla bean buttercream. I have to say, the strawberry mixture along with the vanilla cupcake was absolutley DELICIOUS. You see that? You see what I did there? I put it in capital letters to help you understand the explosion of taste that was going on in my mouth with every bite.  I might never eat another cupcake again unless its filled with this fruity goodness (okay.. that might be a little lie so don't hold me to it!).
Fried Strawberry Pies
Courtesy of Southern Living
2 cups fresh strawberries, mashed
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts
Vegetable oil
Powdered sugar

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring strawberry mixture to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly until thickened. Let cool completely.
2. Roll 1 piecrust to press out fold lines; cut into 9 circles with a 3-inch round cutter. Roll circles to 3 1/2-inch diameter; moisten edges with water (*I used egg wash*). Spoon 2 teaspoons strawberry mixture in the center of each circle; fold over, pressing edges with fork to seal. Repeat with remaining piecrust and strawberry mixture.
3. Place pies in a single layer on a baking sheet, and freeze at least 1 hour.
4. Pour oil to a depth of 1 inch into a large heavy skillet; heat to 350°.
5. Fry pies, in batches, 1-2 minute on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels; sprinkle with powdered sugar.

I know, I know.. The red came out very pink, but I ran out of food coloring! It's American enough for me though!
MmMmMm...........strawberry filling!
Vanilla Cupcakes
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Zest of 1 large lemon
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
2. In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.
3. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
5. Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with icing.

Easy Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Courtesy of Cook's Illustrated
2½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons heavy cream

1. In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.
2. Using a paring knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean into butter and beat mixture at medium-high speed to combine, about 15 seconds.
3. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully incorporated, about 30 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 20 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

(this buttercream is so good, I could eat it from the bowl!)


  1. i've been known to hunker down with a bowl of frosting and just nosh. i'm not ashamed. :)
    i love your hand pies--using premade crusts makes them so simple! and the cupcakes are inspired. bravo. :)

  2. I love warm summer nights too. Both desserts sound perfect for the 4th of July.