Have you ever had one of those days in the kitchen where nothing turns out the way you want it to? Yeah, that was my Monday...
It started with a cake recipe I've been wanting to try that uses pie filling to replace the oil and water in a boxed cake mix. I thought I could convert it to cupcakes, but I was less than impressed. They were totally meh, more like muffins than cupcakes, and very artificial tasting.
So I scrapped that idea in favor of straight-out-of-the-box cupcakes and decided I would dress them up by turning my favorite buttercream frosting recipe into a fresh strawberry buttercream frosting... which turned out as a grainy, gloppy mess. I had my heart set on using fresh strawberry puree and not processed strawberry syrup, so I called it quits for the day, and went back to the drawing board.
The cake mix I finally settled on for the cupcakes is this Betty Crocker Signature Pink Velvet mix that I picked up at Walmart. My girls went crazy for the gorgeous pink color, and it has a delicious buttery vanilla flavor that pairs perfectly with the strawberry buttercream frosting -- once I got all of the kinks worked out, at least!
You'll notice when you mix up the batter that it's much thicker than your average cake mix. You'll definitely need to use a cookie scoop to fill the cups.
The box said that it should make 24 cupcakes, but I only managed to get 18 out of it. Although I may fill cups slightly higher than average, I still think you'd be hard pressed to eke out two dozen, so keep that in mind if you need a specific number for an event.
After sitting down to think about where I went wrong on my initial strawberry buttercream attempt, I realized two things. One, I didn't factor in how long it would take my butter to soften up enough with the cold temps we're experiencing -- it was still too firm in the center. And two, I didn't add the strawberry puree at the proper time in the mixing process.
My second attempt at a fresh strawberry buttercream frosting turned out pretty darn close to perfect! The only adjustment I'd make in the future is to use a clear vanilla extract, as I think the regular vanilla extract I used gave the frosting a slight orangish undertone.
For more tips on making an awesome buttercream and to learn how to pipe rosettes on top of your cupcakes (it's really easy!), check out this best buttercream frosting recipe post.