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Another no-brainer of a selection for my seasonal cupcake project – blueberries for July! No other berry, nay fruit, is better than blueberries in the month of July…at least until the peaches take over come August.
I’ve made a lot of blueberry muffins and crumb cakes over the years, and they all have a more rustic, wholesome quality to them, which I totally adore, but for these cupcakes, I wanted something more decidedly “cake” like, something more ‘dessert’ and less ‘snack’. This recipe below fits the bill perfectly. Please don’t skip the streusel-ish brown sugar and cinnamon topping – it adds amazing crunch and a really unique texture contrast with the plush cupcake and the smooth, creamy frosting! If you didn’t know already, the combination of blueberry, brown sugar and cinnamon is to die for. Now you know!
We start with our usual mise en place – having everything measured, at room temperature, and ready to go makes baking a breeze! This recipe uses cake flour for a finer, more plush crumb, with a lift from both baking powder and baking soda.
Preheat the oven, prepare the muffin tins and mix the ingredients for the topping and set aside.
Then the cupcake batter is the usual: sift the cake flour with the baking soda and baking powder; beat the butter together with the salt, vanilla extract and sugar until its light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the flour and sour cream alternately to the batter, and finally fold in the blueberries using a wooden spoon!
When adding berries, or chopped nuts, or chocolate chips, in a batter like this, it is a good idea to toss it in 1/4-1/2 cup of the dry ingredients mixture (or even just in some flour), and then folding it in. This keeps the add-ins suspended in the batter, and keeps it from sinking to the bottom of the pan (which in the best case scenario, creates a delicious mess, but in the worst case, can burn the add-ins, particularly chocolate chips).
Bake the cupcakes after topping with the prepared streusel, and let cool.
Once baked, check out the crunchy streusel lid! These cupcakes smell heavenly even without the frosting on top!
While the cupcakes and baking and cooling, prepare the frosting. Actually, this frosting (as with all cream cheese frostings) really benefits from being chilled for a bit before using, so you can make it even before the cupcakes and chill it until its ready to use. It pipes much better that way, especially if you are planning for a more elaborate design. If you are planning to just slather it on with a spatula, chilling is not required.
Beat the butter and cream cheese together with the vanilla extract until smooth and fluffy. Add the confectioners sugar 1 cup at a time on low speed (lest you – and every surface in the kitchen – be covered in confectioners sugar), and once its incorporated, beat on medium high speed.
You can either fold in the strained blueberry jam to completely color the frosting blue, or just place it over the frosting and then transfer it to a pastry bag and pipe away!
Enjoy these slightly chilled on a hot summer day!
Blueberry cupcakes with blueberry cream cheese frosting
Loosely adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 2 dozen generously frosted cupcakes
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 1/3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sour cream, at room temperature
12 ounces fresh blueberries (2 1/2 cups) (or if using frozen, then thawed and drained)
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1/2 cup high-quality blueberry jam or spread, strained to remove seeds and chunks
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line cups of 2 standard muffin tin with cupcake liners (24 total).
Whisk together granulated sugar, brown sugar and ground cinnamon in a medium bowl and set aside.
Sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder over a sheet of parchment paper. Set 1/4 cup of this mixture aside in a small bowl.
Beat together butter, salt and vanilla extract in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on low speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the granulated sugar and increase speed to medium-high, and beat until mixture is pale and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
On medium-low speed, beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, incorporating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of bowl. Mixture may look curdled, but don’t worry!
Reduce the speed to low (or “Stir”), and beat in flour mixture in 4 additions, alternating with sour cream (in 3 additions), beginning and ending with flour. Toss blueberries in the reserved 1/4 cup flour mixture and fold it into the cupcake batter, being careful not to over mix.
Fill the cupcake batter in the prepared muffin tins, feeling each between 2/3 to 3/4 of the way up (2/3 for a more flat top, 3/4 for a taller dome). Add a teaspoon or so of the topping to the cupcake batter (if using).
Place the muffin tins in the preheated oven and bake at 400 degrees F for about 7 minutes, and then lower temperature to 375 degrees F. Bake for a total of 20-24 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached.
Transfer muffin tins to a cooling rack, and let the cupcakes cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from the tin, and let cool rest of the way on the cooling rack.
Sift the confectioners sugar on a sheet of parchment paper and set aside.
Beat the butter, cream cheese and vanilla extract together on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Reduce the speed to low, and gradually add the confectioners sugar, a cup or so at a time until completely incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high, and beat 1-2 minutes until frosting is smooth and fluffy. Add a few tablespoons of confectioners sugar (sifted) if the frosting seems too runny or soft.
Spoon jam on top of frosting, and without stirring it, dollop the frosting into a disposable pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Swirl the frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes.
Cream cheese frostings tend to be softer and runnier than regular buttercream, so they benefit from a quick trip to the fridge for a couple of hours before using, especially if planning to use it for more elaborate piping designs. It is a good idea to make them the previous day if possible and chill the frosting overnight in the fridge, in an airtight container, and then bring the frosting out of the fridge just 30-45 minutes before using on cooled cupcakes.