Naturally pink cupcakes with fresh raspberry flavor and a berry special surprise inside.
This recipe was originally created for our Series of Unfortunate Recipes, based on the book and Netflix series by Lemony Snicket.
Makes 12-16 standard-sized cupcakes.
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
4 cups fresh raspberries
13 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg whites at room temperature
Lemony-Basil Buttercream Frosting for serving
1. Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers. Whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl and pour 1 cup of the raspberries into the strainer. Use a silicone spatula to gently smash the raspberries, pressing the juice through the strainer while catching the seeds and other solids. Continue to press and scrape until the solids in the strainer seem a bit dry. Repeat with two more cups, reserving the final cup of raspberries. When you have finished, allow the solids to rest in the strainer while you do the next step, so any additional juice can drip into the bowl.
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment (or using an electric mixer in a separate bowl), beat the butter until smooth and lighter in color, 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, a little at a time, beating until fluffy and light in color, 4-6 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract, then the egg whites, one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition.
4. Discard the raspberry solids and pour the juice into a measuring cup. You should have 1 cup of juice. If you are a little short, use water or milk to fill to the 1 cup line. (If you have more than you need, add the rest to a smoothie or stir into iced tea!)
5. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer if using. Use a silicone spatula to gradually incorporate some of the flour into the egg mixture, followed by some of the raspberry juice. Continue alternating additions of flour and juice, gently incorporating by hand after each addition, just until smooth.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle position. Fill each of the cupcake papers halfway with batter. Press a single raspberry, open end down, into each cupcake, until partially submerged in the batter. Top each cupcake with more batter, filling each to about 3/4 full and wiping up any spills.
7. Bake for 18-24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean (moist crumbs are fine, but there should be no wet batter). Set the muffin tin on a rack to cool for about 3 minutes. Then, remove the cupcakes from the tin, letting them cool directly on the rack in their papers until room temperature, 1 hour or more.
8. When completely cool, frost with Lemony-Basil Buttercream Frosting and top each cupcake with 1 or more whole raspberries.
You can frost these with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting if you prefer. I created the called-for Lemony-Basil Buttercream specifically for these cupcakes, and I promise you it's divine. But if you're in the mood for a more traditional frosting, go for it. A dark-chocolate ganache or frosting would probably also be nice here, or maybe something a little minty.
Because of the raspberries hidden inside, the center of each cupcakes may depress a little as they cool. Not to worry! In any normal recipe this would be a sign of an undercooked cupcake, but in this case, it's just due to the the squishy raspberry settling and relaxing inside the cake. No one will notice this once the cupcakes are frosted, but if it bothers you, you can omit the fresh raspberry inside.
You can substitute 2 cups cake flour for the combination of all-purpose flour and cornstarch listed in the ingredients, if that happens to be easier for you.