The real reason my interest in this blog surged over this past weekend was the 2nd Annual Ice Cream Cupcake Roundup: a joint project between Cupcake Project and Scoopalicious that I had to enter. I love ice cream. I bake a lot of cupcakes. Perfect match! I've never entered a baking contest before, but if I'm honest with myself, it's only fitting that these two blogs initiate me. I first found Cupcake Project a year ago--during this contest--when I was looking for some cupcake recipe ideas. I quickly got sucked into the whirlwind that is food blogging, and was obviously attracted to Scoopalicious, being the avid ice cream lover that I am. And so, without further ado...
The Perfect Summer Cupcake: a strawberry cupcake with a ring of white balsamic buttercream, finished with strawberry-basil swirl ice cream.
This cupcake IS summer for me. One of my favorite drinks all summer long is a strawberry martini I make, with strawberry infused vodka, and a basil simple syrup. That drink was my inspirations for this cupcake. The fresh strawberries in the cupcake create a "sunken" center in the cupcake, a perfect bowl for a scoop of ice cream. In addition to the fresh tastes of the strawberries and basil, I wanted some tang to balance the sweetness. I love pretty much anything sweet and balsamic-y, but this frosting came out better than I hoped. It was a bit of a risk, but I replaced some of the cream in my favorite buttercream recipe with a small amount of white balsamic vinegar. I chose to use the vinegar straight, and not make it a glaze first; this was definitely the right choice, because the tart fruitiness prevents the frosting from being too sweet. As a side note, if you've never tried white balsamic, I highly suggest you give it a shot. It's fruitier than dark balsamic, and is, for my money, fantastic on any salad involving goat cheese.
This cupcake idea was the perfect excuse to try out my idea for swirling together strawberry and basil ice creams. I had never made either (nor had I ever swirled together two flavors), but I will definitely make it again! I was a little uncertain about making the basil ice cream, but I loved a fresh mint ice cream I made several months ago, and I'm a bigger fan of basil than I am of mint. I can see some room for improvement on my strawberry ice cream, mainly in consistency. It's harder than I like, especially next to the perfect smooth texture of the basil ice cream, but that can be fixed with a little more creme de cassis, and perhaps cooking down the strawberries to get out some of the water that turns to ice when frozen. The creme de cassis will be my first adjustment, though. I only used about two tablespoons, and, when it doubt, "add more booze" is a good mantra in my ice cream making.
The cupcake has received high accolades from its tasters, with the most prominent compliment being that the frosting was, "the best frosting [I've] ever made." Not bad, for my first attempt at a contest! Wish me luck!