Sprinkles’ Strawberry Cupcakes

When I made the decision to move from LA to San Francisco, it was not without some serious regrets. Most of all, it was leaving my friends behind that got to me. I also knew I’d miss the beaches, the movie premieres, and the lingering Hollywood dream I’d been harboring.

I also knew I’d really, really miss Sprinkles Cupcakes. The progenitor of the cupcake bakery mania, Sprinkles began as a Beverly Hills gourmet cupcake business and has since spread out to locations around the country, carrying with it a whiff of Madagascar bourbon vanilla extract and winning over hungry hearts. I think the cupcake craze is more than a little silly, but I’m the first person to say Sprinkles is very serious business: without a doubt, they have the best cupcakes I’ve ever tasted (that chocolate chip peanut butter cupcake–it has no competition in this world).

San Francisco has no Sprinkles. Nor does Sacramento, my current city. It’s a lonely existence.

Fortunately for us Sprinkles addicts spread out across creation, there’s always the option of making knock-off Sprinkles at home. With fresh strawberries stuffing up my refrigerator, it made perfect sense to make strawberry cupcakes to start the week with. What better recipe to use than the one for the Sprinkles cake batter?

This Wayne Thiebaud-like are the summer dessert: moist, dense, but with a crisp, light, and very, very sweet flavor. With their cream cheese frosting, they remind me of the tart strawberry cupcakes at the bakery I worked at in high school. But it’s not just memory lane that makes them dear to me. This recipe has won over thousands of fans at Sprinkles. I’m just one of many strawberry cupcake devotees, paying honor to her cupcake idol.

Sprinkles’ Strawberry Cupcakes
Cupcake recipe from Sprinkles Cupcakes
Frosting recipe adapted from Joy of Baking
Yields 12 cupcakes and frosting for 12 to 16 cupcakes

2/3 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature

8 ounces full-fat cream cheese, cold
5 tablespoons softened butter
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh strawberry puree

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.

2. Place strawberries in a small food processor; process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree, add a few more strawberries if necessary or save any extra puree for frosting; set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree; set aside.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.

5. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

6. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.

7. Using a hand mixer, beat the top three ingredients of the frosting together until well combined. Gradually add the powdered sugar as you continue beating the mixture.  Lastly, stir in the strawberry purée. When cupcakes are cooled, spread icing on top.

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