Lemon Basil Cupcakes with Balsamic Strawberry Filling

I have a confession to make: I dont have much of a sweet tooth. Ugh, I know. It’s actually something I’m not proud of. I wish I could look at a triple chocolate cake with the same ferocious desire that some people do (like my wife). That’s not to say that I dont enjoy sweet treats! I’m just super picky about what I like. The desserts I tend to gravitate toward (both eating and recipe development), tend to have more contrasting flavors than the typical baked good. That’s why you’ll find a little extra salt or a splash of vinegar in a lot of my sweets. And oooooh let me tell you, what a world of difference it makes. Case and point: my lemon basil cupcakes with balsamic strawberry filling.

This recipe came to be because of a very special reason! My cousin is getting married this summer and I will have the pleasure of creating her wedding cake! And after a long, sugar-filled wedding cake tasting, the happy couple (and fam) unanimously decided on two flavors…. not this one. This little lemon gem as a close third. So as a compromise (really it was an excuse to eat more cake), the bronze medal cake was turned into a winner of a wedding shower cupcake!

Cupcake disclaimer: these lemon basil cupcakes with balsamic strawberry filling recipe is 2/3 Farmstead Table. The remaining 1/3 is thanks to the genius that is Stella Parks (of BraveTart and Serious Eats fame). She truly is a “Pastry Wizard” and an excellent resource for anyone wanting to jump into the pastry game. Her Swiss buttercream recipe specifically is my jam. I’ve tried so many recipes over the years but Stella’s is incredibly easy to prepare and a hit every time I make it. Plus it has a decent fridge/freezer life which is ideal for anyone wanting a delicious treat at a moments notice!

Print Recipe
Lemon Basil Cupcakes with Balsamic Strawberry Filling.
These lemon basil cupcakes pack a delicious punch of citrusy herbaceous-ness in every bite. And don't get me started on the mouthwatering balsamic strawberry filling!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Lemon Cupcakes
Basil Syrup
Balsamic Strawberry Filling
Swiss Buttercream (adapted from Serious Eats)
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Lemon Cupcakes
Basil Syrup
Balsamic Strawberry Filling
Swiss Buttercream (adapted from Serious Eats)
Instructions
Basil Syrup
  1. Place sugar and water in small saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. When sugar is dissolved, turn off heat and add in basil. Steep for 1 hour. Strain leaves and reserve syrup until later.
    Basil
Lemon Cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line muffin pan with paper liners. Using mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy (3-4 min). Add eggs and vanilla and until everything is combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice together. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl, alternating with the lemon/milk mixture, starting and ending with the dry. Spoon batter into cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 full. Bake for about 18-22 minutes. The cupcakes are fully baked when a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
    Lemon zest
Balsamic Strawberry Filling
  1. Add the strawberries and sugar to a small saucepan and bring to slow boil. Cook strawberries for 5 minutes before adding in the balsamic vinegar. Continue to boil for 5-7 minutes, until vinegar thickens and strawberries soften. Cool completely before filling cupcakes.
Swiss Buttercream
  1. Fill a wide pot with at least 1 1/2 inches of water, with a thick ring of crumpled tinfoil placed on the bottom to act as a "booster seat" that will prevent the bowl from touching the bottom of the pot. Place over high heat until steaming-hot, then adjust temperature to maintain a gentle simmer. Combine egg whites, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set over steaming water, stirring and scraping constantly with a flexible spatula, until egg whites hold steady at 185°F (85°C). This should take only 10 to 12 minutes, so if mixture seems to be moving slowly, simply turn up the heat. Once ready, transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip at high speed about 10 minutes, until meringue is glossy, stiff, and cool to the touch, around 90°F (32°C). With mixer still running, add butter, 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time. Initially, the volume of the meringue will decrease dramatically; it may even seem soupy along the way, but as the cool butter is added, the mixture will begin to thicken and cool. In the end, buttercream should be thick, creamy, and soft but not runny, around 72°F (22°C). Mix in vanilla extract and almond extract (if using) on low speed until well combined. (Use buttercream right away, or transfer to a large zipper-lock bag, press out the air, and seal. Buttercream can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks and frozen for up to several months. (The main issue with longer storage in the freezer is odor absorption, not spoilage.) Rewarm to 72°F and re-whip before using.)
    Lemon Basil Cupcakes with Balsamic Strawberry Filling
Assembly
  1. Using a melon baller, remove a tbsp portion from the inside of the cupcake. Eat or discard the innards. Apply a small glaze of basil syrup to each cupcake with a brush. Fill each cupcake with 1 tbsp of balsamic strawberry filling. Decorate with buttercream and enjoy!!!
    Lemon Basil Cupcakes with Balsamic Strawberry Filling
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