finished cupcakes

I got to hang out with the most amazing, caring, generous, funny, wise, and beautiful person this weekend: my mom. We explored new places, shopped darling boutiques, perused interesting museums, laughed until we cried, and indulged in many delicious culinary treats. During her time here in North Carolina we went to a bakery in Greensboro called Maxie B’s. This is the most fabulous bakery I’ve visited. Featured in Southern Living as one of the South’s best bakeries, Maxie B’s is one of those places that you step in to and think for just a moment that perhaps you’re really dreaming.

Dozens of picture perfect cake domes line the front counter and wrap all around the back and sides of the place showing off their scratch-baked cakes. There is no menu displayed, so everyone waits in the long line and cranes their necks to read the small handwritten flavors tied onto the top of each cake dome. On this particular Sunday afternoon, the line was to the door.

Mom ordered a piece of their decadent Devil’s Food Cake. Layers of chocolate icing alternated with rich chocolate cake to make a simply perfect chocolate dessert. Neil got a the Brown Stone Front Cake, which was made from a very old recipe with layers of light chocolate cake and caramel frosting. I ordered their best seller: Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Cake, which is a cream cheese cake layered with fresh strawberries and covered in vanilla buttercream. I cannot find the words to convey the perfection of this cake. The buttercream is unlike any other I’ve tasted. Super buttery, the right amount of sweetness, and a smooth creamy texture.

Totally inspired by this cake, I attempted to recreate the fresh strawberry taste and buttery icing. I’ve come to the conclusion that you simply can’t mess with Maxie B’s. It can’t be recreated. Or at least, I can’t recreate it. However, these mini cupcakes land somewhere in left field of the Maxie B’s ballpark and are still really, really good. Fresh strawberries really make the difference in bringing out an authentic strawberry flavor.

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Once the strawberries are puréed, you can incorporate their sweet flavor into the cupcake batter.

Strawberry Puree

I chopped up a few more strawberries to use as decorations atop the cupcakes. I think it’s nice when your guests automatically know what you’re serving. That bit of strawberry should clue them in.

Chopped and pureed strawberries

I recently bought this mini cupcake pan and love it! Mini cupcakes can help with portion control, but it’s hard to eat just one…

Filled cups

If you fill each one 3/4 of the way it makes the cupcakes rise a bit over the paper lining when baked, which I think looks most attractive.

Baked cupcakes

These mini cupcakes are the perfect springtime treats that mothers everywhere are sure to love.

Birdseye cupcakes

Back to my visit with mom. As I get older, I appreciate my mother more and more. She is amazing. She balances the world of being a mother, teacher, Nana, wife, daughter, writer, friend, technology advocate, and more with style and grace. Did you know that she was the one who encouraged us to start this blog in the first place? All props to mom. I love that right now I get to see my sister and sister-in-law being moms to their little ones, my mother and mother-in-law being moms to us, and our grandmothers being moms to our parents. Life is beautiful, isn’t it? Happy Mother’s Day!

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from Candace Nelson of Sprinkles Cupcakes
Prep Time: 20 min. Cook Time: 12 minutes

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

1 cup freshly puréed strawberries (about 10 large berries)
1/2 cup finely chopped strawberries (about 3 large berries)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 egg whites

For the Frosting:

2 sticks butter, super soft
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons whole milk

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a mini cupcake tin with paper liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, mix together the milk, vanilla, and strawberry purée.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugar and continue to mix. Add the egg and egg whites and blend until combined. Next, add half of the flour mixture and continue to mix. Add the strawberry mixture, and mix again. Finally, add the remaining flour mixture and combine, scraping the sides of the mixer to get all ingredients in the batter.

Fill each mini muffin tin 3/4 of the way and bake for about 12 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when tested. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

While muffins are cooling, prepare the frosting. Beat all of the ingredients together until light and fluffy. Top each cooled cupcake with frosting and a bit of the finely chopped strawberries. Enjoy.

Makes 36 mini cupcakes.