As some of you know, S has been away for work for the past six weeks. Luckily for me though, he was scheduled to come home on Valentines Day! What better present than that? I had planned an elaborate dessert buffet for his arrival, but I was so busy leading up to the day that it simply just couldn't be done. I did manage to bake some chocolate cupcakes with strawberry Italian meringue buttercream though, much to S's delight.
The day didn't go without some hiccups though; S was supposed to catch a 9am flight, but due to late night work celebrations, he missed his flight by 4 minutes! I was really upset that he might not make it home that day. The next flight he could catch was 11am, however, after boarding the plane, the baggage people went on strike half way through loading the plane! The day really was turning out to be one disaster after another- so stressful! After a few more hours, he finally got home- sans luggage. This was rather inconvenient since all he had were the clothes on his back, and we had planned on going out to dinner that night. S's Valentines present to me was also in his luggage so he was a little upset that I wouldn't be able to open it that day. I really wasn't too concerned as I already had my present (him). In the end, everything worked out fine and we got his luggage the next day. Just goes to show how one little thing (missing a plane by 4 minutes) can escalate into something quite inconvenient!
I used Dorie's chocolate cupcake recipe, which I might add, makes for a delicious cupcake. I added fresh strawberry puree to the Italian meringue which was just perfect. I was really concerned that the buttercream wouldn't turn out and that it would be too sloppy from adding the puree, but it was fine. Nothing beats the taste of fresh strawberries!
Strawberry Italian Meringue Buttercream
For 24 cupcakes or 1 cake
1 1/4 cups plus 1/3 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup water
8 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
680 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup strawberry puree
1. Place the 1 1/4 cups of caster sugar and water into a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Turn down the heat while you whip the egg whites. You want to be able to bring it back to the boil quickly.
2. Whip egg whites on low speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and turn speed up to medium high. When soft peaks form, gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to whip to stiff peaks. This is the meringue part of the buttercream.
3. Bring the sugar and water mixture back to the boil and heat until it reaches 120 degrees Celsius. Pour in a steady stream into the meringue mixture, which should be on medium-high speed. Continue whipping the meringue mixture until it cools.
4. Add the pieces of butter into the cooled meringue mixture, a few at a time. Continue beating the butter into the meringue mixture until it is smooth and creamy.
5. Beat in the strawberry puree. Add food colour if desired. Use buttercream immediately, or refrigerated for one week, or freeze for one month.