May 12, 2008

Strawberry-Thyme Cupcakes

3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup milk
3 large strawberries, mashed (with juices)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, at room temperature
3 sprigs thyme leaves, lightly crushed
zest of 1 small lemon

lemon thyme frosting

Allow the thyme to seep in the milk for at least 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350. Line or grease and flour 6 wells in a cupcake pan. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and zest then mix thoroughly. Add flour, baking powder and salt to the butter mixture. Strain the milk into a small bowl and mix it into the strawberries. Add the mixture the rest of the batter and mix until well combined. Fill each well 2/3 of the way full. Bake 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted the center of a cupcake comes out clean or with just one or two dry crumbs. Cool briefly in the pan, then remove cupcakes to wire racks to cool completely before icing with lemon thyme frosting.

My thoughts:
There have been several times when I have thought that Stef (of Cupcake Project fame) and I might be secretly related. Or that at the very least, we are transmitting some sort of subliminal signals to each other. How else to explain that we have both come up with several of the same concepts (absinthe cupcakes! Kentucky Derby cupcakes! winter Starbucks inspired cupcakes! our favorite versions of chocolate cream cheese frosting among others) with very different recipes just days apart? We finally decided to take this to the next level: we would both deliberately make cupcakes using the same ingredient (thyme) and post the results on the same day. Now, we didn't know what the other one was doing with the thyme or what the other ingredients might be, just that thyme had to be a star ingredient. I wasn't sure what I was going to make until I saw some impossible to resist and extremely-early-for-Baltimore strawberries for sale and decided to make a strawberry-thyme cupcake topped with a lemon-thyme icing as thyme pairs well with both citrus and berries. The result: edible Spring! Fluffy strawberry and thyme infused cupcakes with fluffy and not too sweet icing makes for possibly the the lightest and freshest flavored cupcakes I've ever made. Not terribly sweet, these are more on the adult side of the cupcake family but they are definitely not muffins. I love the bits of strawberry that are found throughout the cake and the thyme is a perfect counterpart to its fruitiness.

As a side note, the song "Time after Time" (both the Cyndi Lauper and unfortunately, the Paul Anka version) has been stuck in my head for days while I worked on these thyme-centric recipes. I can only hope that you are not similarly afflicted, Stef.

Check out Stef's thyme cupcake here.