Makes two dozen cupcakes
Summer means berries, and this recipe is a luxurious way to feature them. Light and airy cupcakes with the tang of buttermilk sit on a surprise graham cracker base, and are topped with a berry-infused buttercream. For a very simple variation, you can turn these into muffins by eliminating the crust, and folding 2 cups of berries directly into the batter instead of making a frosting with them. Either way, this is a wonderfully fresh and delightful way to celebrate summer.
Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/2 cups (160 g) graham crackers
1/3 cup (76 g) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
2 cups (190 g) cake flour
1 cup (110 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons (6.25 g) baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons (6.25 g) baking soda
1 teaspoon (6 g) salt
1 cup (236 ml) buttermilk
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (200 g) sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg whites
Summer Berry Buttercream
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup (88 ml) berry puree (you can use any combination of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or other berries)
1/2 cup (118 ml) berry jam for filling
For the crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
Pulse graham crackers in food processor into fine crumbs.
Add butter and sugar and pulse until combined. Place about 2 teaspoons (10 g) of graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each cupcake paper. Use your fingers or a pastry tamper to press mixture firmly together.
Place muffin tins in oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove and let cool while you make the cupcake batter.
For the cupcakes:
Combine flours, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
Combine buttermilk and vanilla in a measuring cup and set aside.
Place butter and sugar in bowl of stand mixer. Cream together for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.
Add in eggs and egg whites one at a time, beating to fully combine before adding the next one.
Add in the flour mixture and milk in five alternating additions, starting and ending with the flour. Mix just to incorporate before adding the next addition.
Fill cupcake papers about 3/4 full with batter. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Cupcakes should be just starting to turn golden on top and a tester inserted in the center should come out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks while you make the buttercream.
For the buttercream:
Combine egg whites and sugar in a metal bowl. Place over a pan of simmering water.
Whisk the mixture constantly over heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture looks smooth and shiny. Continue whisking until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).
Remove mixture from heat and pour into a stand mixer bowl. Whisk on medium speed for about 5 minutes until the mixture has cooled.
Switch to the paddle attachment and with the speed on low, add the butter a few pieces at a time, beating until smooth. Do not add the butter too quickly or beat too quickly or the buttercream may break.
When all the butter has been added, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed for about 6-10 minutes until it is very thick and smooth. It may appear to separate briefly but continue beating and it should come back together.
Add the berry puree to the buttercream and beat to combine. (To make the puree, puree the berries in a food processor and strain out the seeds).
To assemble the cupcakes:
Cut a small core out of the center of each cupcake. Fill with a spoonful of berry jam (you can also use fresh berry puree). Fill a piping bag with the buttercream and pipe a swirl on top of each cupcake. Decorate with additional fresh berries.
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