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Friday, August 14, 2009

Strawberry Applesauce Cupcakes

Two factors came together today for an easy, relatively inexpensive dessert that has been a real hit: first, I had some 99 cents a pound strawberries that needed to be used up quickly and I needed to find a dessert that I could make and finish within an hour and a half. Fortunately I still have a lot of frozen unsweetened applesauce that needs to be used up to make room for this year's harvest, so I modified a cake mix recipe to fit what was on hand and came up with some light, refreshing cupcakes. This would make at least 2 dozen regular sized cupcakes, but I made a dozen miniature cupcakes and still had enough for 19 regular ones.

The applesauce thawed quickly, but the microwave could have been used if necessary. This would probably work just as well with frozen strawberries (NOT in syrup) when fresh ones are not available at a good price.

Cupcakes can be a good choice in the summer, since they do bake a little more quickly than full-sized cakes and can be frozen so that you can thaw only as many as you need on a really hot day without heating up the oven again.


Strawberry Applesauce Cupcakes

1 package yellow cake mix
8 ounces unsweetened applesauce
approximately 8 ounces strawberries
2 eggs

Process strawberries and applesauce in blender until smooth. You should end up with one and a half cups of puree; if you need more, you can add more strawberries or just enough water to make that amount.

Combine the cake mix, eggs, and strawberry applesauce puree; when all the ingredients are well-mixed, continue to beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper liners in muffin tins; spray each paper lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon the batter into the cups, filling each just over half full. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the center springs back (or use a toothpick or skewer to test for doneness). If using miniature muffin pans, bake for only 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool. When ready to frost, pull the liner away from the side of each cupcake just far enough to cut a slit in the middle of the cupcake--don't cut all the way through. Spread a little frosting into this slit and press the cupcake together, pressing the paper liner back against the cake. Spread the top with frosting. Makes about 24 cupcakes. Store in the refrigerator.

Strawberry Frosting and Filling
1 T soft butter
3/4 c fresh strawberries, finely chopped
powdered sugar--approximately 2 to 3 cups
1/2 t almond extract
1 t lemon juice (may use bottled or fresh)

Stir strawberries and butter together and then mix in a cup or so of powdered sugar, the almond extract and lemon juice. Beat with a fork until quite smooth. Continue adding powdered sugar until quite thick. Place in refrigerator for at least half an hour. As this stands, the acid in the strawberries may cause the mixture to thin out, so you may need to add more powdered sugar. Warning: this will probably never develop a really creamy consistency, staying much more like a glaze.

If desired, add a small strawberry or strawberry slice to the top of each just before serving.

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