Thursday, September 10, 2009

Strawberry Rosemary Cupcakes

About a month ago my neighbor, Ron, offered me unlimited access to his outdoor pots of herbs because, "I know you're a good cook." I appreciated the complement enormously and finally took him up on his offer this week. On a drizzly afternoon I just 'had' to have some of his rosemary, and went through the garden gate with measuring cup in hand.

It took another couple of days before I used the lovely stuff, but the results were worth the wait. I combined the rosemary with fresh organic strawberries, again capitalizing on late summer flavors.
But when I tasted this batter I wasn't impressed. Then I realized I'd left out the sugar. Once I added it and as the berries released their natural juices, the batter became much softer and easier to work with - and made adding the rosemary a snap.
It spooned easily into the cupcake papers, which had their own ideas about how to behave. They just couldn't seem to sit in the tin without gathering a bit around the edges. However, by the time the baking was done, most cupcakes looked fairly uniform.
And by the time I'd put on the icing, I was delighted with the light texture and just-right sweetness. See if you agree.
Strawberry Rosemary Cupcakes
Makes 12-13 cupcakes

1/2 cup oatmeal, ground
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil (VOE: This oil enhances the fruit's sweetness and herbal flavor)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup strawberries, diced
6 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced (VOE: When working with rosemary, discard any pieces that seem a bit woody and/or resistant to your knife cuts.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the first six ingredients. Add eggs, olive oil and butter, combining thoroughly. Fold in strawberries and rosemary.

Fill cupcake papers approximately 3/4 full and bake for 25-27 minutes. Remove from pan and papers about 10 minutes after baked. Allow to cool completely and then ice with:

1 1/2 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup strawberries, minced
2 tablespoons rosemary, minced
minced strawberries for garnish

Combine cream cheese and butter and cream together with confectioners sugar. Fold in strawberries and rosemary. Garnish center of each cupcake with bits of strawberry. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

VOE: This icing recipe will be very 'looose,' resembling a thick glaze. Reduce both the cream cheese and butter by 1/2 tablespoon for a thicker consistency.