An Italian inspired strawberry cupcake (tortina) made with aged balsamic vinegar that is just a little bit different and a little bit more awesome because of it.
Yield: 12 cupcakes
For the Cupcake:
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2¼ cups caster sugar
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs plus 1 large egg white
1 cup milk
For the Strawberry Balsamic Swirl and Cupcake Topping:
2½ cups rinsed, hulled and finely chopped fresh strawberries
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp. aged balsamic vinegar
For the Cupcake Frosting:
1½ cups rinsed, hulled and finely chopped fresh strawberries
4 large egg whites
1¼ cups caster sugar
3 sticks (1½ cups) unsalted butter cut into cubes
For the Balsamic Glaze:
½ cup aged balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
To make the strawberry balsamic swirl and cupcake topping:
Combine 2½ cups rinsed, hulled and finely chopped fresh strawberries with 3 tbsp sugar,1 tsp. balsamic vinegar in a medium bowl. Stir to blend. Let sit at least 20-30 minutes to macerate to be used later.
To make the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs and egg white one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions alternating with the milk, mixing each addition just until incorporated. Gently swirl in the macerated strawberry- balsamic mix with a metal skewer. Fill cupcake liners each about ¾-full. Bake until light golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-28 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Cool cupcakes in the pan a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the Swiss Meringue buttercream frosting:
Place the strawberries in a food processor or blender and puree until completely smooth. Combine sugar and egg whites in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160 degrees F and the sugar has dissolved; about 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of the electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk sugar-egg white mixture on medium-high speed until mixture is thick, glossy with stiff-peaks and the temperature of the outside of the bowl has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes. Change attachment to the paddle attachment and continue mixing on low speed. Add butter, 1 cube at a time; mix until silky-smooth. If mixture curdles, continue mixing and it will return to smooth about 3-5 minutes although it may take a little longer. (Don’t panic if the Swiss meringue buttercream looks curdled like scrambled eggs after you add the butter, keep whipping at a low speed and the mixture will come together). Blend in the strawberry puree until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Pipe a round of frosting onto each cupcake. Add a small dollop of the macerated strawberry cupcake topping on the top of each cupcake.
To make the balsamic glaze:
Combine the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high until bubbling, then lower the heat and continue to cook until significantly reduced (about 4 tbsp.) Cool . Add a drizzle of balsamic glaze over the top of the frosting to finish.