Beautiful Disaster

HEY! Look what I have for you!

Cake, filling and frosting, piled into a fluted glass and garnished with fresh fruit. They are begging to be demolished by your spoon. Strawberry-lemony goodness in every bite. YUM!

I could say that when I got out my little muffin tin and flour and sugar and things that fateful Sunday morning a few weeks back that I intended THIS to be my desired outcome. You would never know, would you? Nope.

Well, that’s not how I roll.

Truth? This is actually what happens when cupcakes fail. I know. Shocking, right? These cute little individual desserts are looking mighty proud of themselves for being composed of a huge, embarrassing failure. šŸ˜‰

The original goal? Lemon buttermilk cupcakes, filled with homemade lemon curd and topped with creamy strawberry frosting. Luckily, MOST of the pan turned out swimmingly. Only like four failed. One of which I just devoured all alone in the kitchen while standing over the sink with out even the faintest hint of shame. (Great cake, by the way). The other three I made trifles out of with the leftover frosting and filling. So really…win/win (win!)

So what went wrong? I overfilled my tins. Again. I always do this! Argh! So frustrating. I physically cannot stop myself for adding just a tiny bit more batter to each cup. This particular cupcake spread as opposed to puffed, so the cakes with too much batter stuck to the pan wouldn’t come out without breaking apart. Hence the huge embarrassing failure. Although…correct me if I’m wrong but when a recipe says it yields 24, I should be able to cut it in half and get 12, right?

I’m thinking yes.

ANYWAY! Enough about failure. Let’s talk about the SUCCESSFUL cupcakes.

Ooooo. Ahhhhh.

Mainly, I want to talk about the successful frosting. Oh. Em. Gee. The frosting. I’m still reeling from this creamy, dreamy strawberry frosting. This recipe from Martha Stewart is a unique Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream made from combining egg whites and granulated sugar in a double boiler and cooking until the sugar dissolves. Then it’s beaten with a whisk attachment until stiff peeks form. Add butter and the strawberry puree and you’ve got something that’s really pretty amazing.

THIS is how frosting is SUPPOSED to be! Be gone, oh ye gritty, sickeningly sweet, leave the corner pieces cake frosting you are used to. This frosting…well, you may or may not want to sneak off for a private moment somewhere and lick your beater and bowl. It’s okay if you do. I won’t tell. šŸ˜‰ It’s so smooth and decadent, it’s like biting into a sweet, pink cloud.

STRAWBERRY LEMON CUPCAKES (Cake, filling and frosting all from Martha Stewart Cupcakes)

This is just a slightly modified version of Martha’s lemon meringue cupcakes. Instead of topping the cupcakes with the lemon curd, I cut out a small, coned-shaped portion in the middle of each cake, and spooned about 1/2 teaspoon of the filling inside. I replaced the slightly torched 7-minute frosting with the swirly strawberry frosting instead. A delicious and addicting flavor combination with a wonderful presentation. I hope you enjoy! šŸ™‚

Makes 24 cupcakes

First, make the filling:


  • 8 large egg yolks
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
  1. Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 8 to 10 minutes, and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
  2. Remove saucepan from heat. Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

Next, make the cake:


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (about 3 tablespoons), plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in zest and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk and lemon juice, and beating until just combined after each.
  4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full (be careful here, start with 2/3rds full and see what you think…) Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

Make the frosting and assemble:


  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries (8 ounces), rinsed, hulled, and coarsely chopped
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature
  1. Puree strawberries in a food processor. Combine egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of a standing electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
  2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, mix until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
  3. With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula and switch to the paddle attachment; continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Add strawberries and beat until combined. Stir with a flexible spatula until the frosting is smooth.*
  4. Using a small paring knife, cut a small cone shaped portion out of the middle of each cupcake. Reserve the cones. Spoon about a 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon filling into each cake. Top with reserved cone and press it down slightly into place.
  5. Pipe or spread the frosting on top of each filled cupcake. Garnish with a strawberry and a lemon wedge. Serve immediately. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator but bring to room temp before serving again.

*The frosting can be made ahead of time. Just transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.Ā  ***EDITED***: Beth over at Easy as Pie tried to make this frosting ahead of time and didn’t care for the result. Check out her post to see her experience. Make the frosting ahead at your own risk, I suppose! šŸ™‚


Two Years Ago: Banana Cupcakes with Honey Cinnamon Frosting – another Martha Stewart winner!


Filed under cupcakes, fruit

3 responses to “Beautiful Disaster

  1. Erin's Mom

    These look absolutely scrumptious!! Way to go, Erin!

  2. Pingback: Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes « EASY AS PIE!

  3. Thanks for the mention, Erin! Minor mishap aside, I really loved these cupcakes!

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