Sweet almond cupcakes filled with roasted strawberry puree and topped with this strawberry buttercream make for a delicious sweet treat.
We are big strawberry fans in my household and I've been wanting to incorporate a strawberry buttercream with a cupcake for a while. In terms of flavour unisons, strawberries and almonds are a perfect match make these cupcakes a dreamy creation.
Sweet nutty almond flavour in a soft light sponge is filled with the surprise roasted strawberry puree that soaks ever so slightly into the almond sponge leaving you with a delectable cupcake. The puree is also added to a traditional American buttercream resulting in the prettiest shade of pink buttercream that tastes divine atop the almond cupcakes.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ALMOND MEAL (GROUND ALMONDS) AND ALMOND FLOUR
Traditionally almond meal is made out of whole almonds. The skin of the almond has been left on and you can see the dark brown pieces in the meal (this is the almond skin). Almond meal, however can be made from unblanched alomnds too.
Almond flour is made out of blanched almonds where the skin has been removed and is much whiter in colour
For most recipes using either almond meal or almond flour will result in the same end product. There are a few recipes where it'll make a difference, for example French Macarons require almond flour for its finer consistency allowing for a smoother shell to the macaron.
Depending on where you live in the world, you'll find either almond meal or almond flour more accessible. Here in the UK Almond Meal is commonly found on the supermarket shelves. It has a much grainier consistency than almond flour and when added to a sponge batter you will notice the textural difference in your baked goods. But as almonds contain natural oils, they impart a beautiful moistness to your sponge. You have to try it.
Butter: I prefer to use unsalted to control the salt added later in the recipe. If using salted butter then omit the salt later on. Ensure butter is at room temperature.
Sugar: Beat the sugar with the butter for a full 5 minutes until pale and fluffy. This incorporates air which results in light and tender sponge.
Eggs: Use large and ensure they are at room temperature.
Almond Extract: This is an optional ingredient. It intensifies the almond flavour.
Flour: Use plain flour (all-purpose), not self-raising flour as there is baking powder to help lift the sponge.
Baking Powder: The leavening agent for the cupcakes.
Salt: Always required to cut through the sweetness
Ground Almonds: The ground almonds add incredible moisture and nuttiness to the cupcakes.
Whole Milk: Substitute with yogurt or sour cream.
How do you make Strawberry Almond Cupcakes
1. This recipe calls for the usual creaming method of beating the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy to incorporate air which results in fluffy and light cupcakes.
2. From here we add the eggs one at a time beating them into the butter. I add a half teaspoon of almond extract to bring out the almond flavour but this is totally optional. You can leave out the almond extract if you would prefer.
3. Next, half of the dry ingredients, flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt are added followed by the milk and then the remaining dry ingredients. Mix until just a few flour streaks remain.
4. Then we divide between the cupcake cases and bake until the cupcakes reach a lovely golden brown and are light and fluffy. Perfection.
How do you make strawberry buttercream?
My buttercream I use in this recipe is a traditional American buttercream containing butter and powdered icing sugar as the two main ingredients. Vanilla extract is added to provide extra flavour and salt is added to cut against the sweetness of the buttercream.
To get that strawberry flavour into the buttercream, in this recipe, I like to use fresh strawberries rather than freeze dried strawberries. But if you’ve tried adding strawberries to buttercream, they can sometimes be way too watery and make for a sloppy buttercream. Worse still is that the strawberries are under ripe and actually have no flavour. Major disappointment right there. So there’s only one way to get around this problem and the solution is to ROAST your strawberries.
Why roast your strawberries?
When the strawberries heat in the oven they break down and the juices caramelise with the natural sugars in the strawberries and with the small amount of sugar that you’ve sprinkled on top prior to baking. The caramelisation of the sugars deepens the strawberry flavour resulting in a flavour bomb!
Roast the strawberries and store them in a jar to serve with your porridge, onto of crêpes, inside babka, alongside a scoop of ice-cream...so many options.
In our Almond Strawberry Cupcakes though, once the strawberries and roasted and have softened whilst still retaining their shape, we purree them. Pulse just a couple of times to leave some lumps or blitz until totally smooth - there is no wrong way to puree them. I don’t mind the seeds in the strawberry puree but feel free to sieve them if you prefer.
A couple of tablespoons then gets added to the beaten buttercream and beaten in to create a light and fluffy cloud in the prettiest shade of pink. As with adding any liquid to buttercream, add it in gradually as if you add too much then you can make the buttercream too liquidy and it won’t hold its shape when piped.
More fruit filled sweet treats that you should check out
For more strawberry goodness, checkout the Strawberry Chamomile Naked Cake by Half Baked Harvest. It's divine to look at but I have no doubt would also taste delicious.
Or head to my Raspberry Chocolate Crumble Bars for your fix raspberry and chocolate deliciousness! Recipe found here.
Note: this blog post images and recipe has been edited and updated on 5th January 2021
Almond Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream
- 170 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 165 g granulated sugar, ¾ cup + 1 tbsp
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 5 ml almond extract, optional
- 125 g plain flour (all-purpose), all-purpose, sifted
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp fine salt
- 70 g almond meal (ground almonds)
- 45 ml whole milk
Roasted strawberry buttercream
- 200 g whole ripe strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 15 g granulated sugar
- 115 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 320 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar), sifted
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp fine salt
- 40 g flaked almonds , toasted and finely chopped
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Place 12 paper cupcake cases into a cupcake pan.
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add your butter and sugar and beat on medium to high speed for 5 minutes until pale and fluffy.
- Add in your eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the almond extract, if using, and beat again until combined.
- In a separate bowl, sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix. Add half of the dry ingredients into your stand mixer bowl and beat on low until combined. Add in the milk and beat again until mixed through. Lastly, add in the remaining dry ingredients and beat until just combined and a few streaks of flour remain.
- Spoon the batter into your cupcake cases filling each one to ¾ full. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Leave the oven on at 180°C (350°F).
Roasted strawberry buttercream
- To roast the strawberries, place them onto a half sheet baking tray. Sprinkle over the sugar and toss lightly. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the strawberries are softened, and juices have thickened and gone sticky. Toss the strawberries halfway through the cooking time.
- Remove from the oven and scrap strawberries and their juices into a blender or Nutri Bullet. Make sure to scrape in all the sticky bits too. Pulse until the strawberries are pureed.
- Pour into a bowl and refrigerate for 30 to 45 minis to allow the puree to thicken slightly.
- To make the buttercream, In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add your butter and beat on high speed for 5 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add in the powdered icing sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and beat until the butter and icing sugar have combined. It may look a bit lumpy at this point. Add in 30 grams (2 tablespoons) of the strawberry puree and beat the buttercream for another 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in 15 grams (1 tablespoon) at a time to the buttercream if it is too thick. If you add too much strawberry puree, then the buttercream may look curdled. To fix this, add in 25g (¼ cup) of icing sugar at a time and mix until the buttercream comes together again.
- Transfer the buttercream into the piping bag fitted with your favourite piping tip. I used an open star tip for this recipe. Using a small sharp knife, core out the centre of each cupcake, making sure not to go all the way through to the bottom. Fill the holes with a teaspoon of strawberry puree. (This step is optional). Any remaining strawberry puree can be stored in a sealed jar and refrigerated for up to five days.
- Then pipe each cupcake with a swirl of strawberry buttercream. Gently press the chopped almonds all around the sides of the buttercream; alternatively, sprinkle over the top. Let cupcakes sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.