Blackberry Cupcake Goodness

I love dessert.

I love dessert that is homemade.

I love dessert that is homemade and super cinchy to make! (cinchy… when’s the last time you heard that?!)

While I love to bake and take my time in the kitchen, the reality is, sometimes I don’t have time to make everything from scratch (this could be due to severe procrastination on my part, but that’s another post for another time).

This issue of wanting to make something of quality and also incorporating ease and minimal time, is a common conflict with me because on one hand I want the accomplishment of making something from scratch, but I also don’t want to turn my teeny tiny kitchen into a disaster area in five seconds flat .

So, what’s a gal to do in this type of culinary conundrum?

The answer to this question is simple…take the genius ideas of others and incorporate them with pre-prepared items and voila! Culinary conundrum over!

(*Warning: the next few steps have zero to very little culinary skill involved, but turn out so awesome that you might find yourself patting yourself on the back and dancing around your kitchen in moves you never knew you had. It’s kinda scary.)

Recently, I had to bake some cupcakes for a baby shower and foolishly I gushed about these AMAZING strawberry cupcakes that I had made before from my Martha Stewart cupcake cookbook. I talked about how moist the cake turned out with the bits of strawberry goodness tucked inside and the crazy whipped frosting that makes you wanna fall to your knees! Well as you can imagine, after talking such a big talk, it was decided that these cupcakes had to make a cameo.

With strawberry cupcakes burning in my brain, I made a mad dash to Trader Joe’s to supply myself for some confectionary madness. Of course when I made it to the berry section, strawberries were naturally out of season and I was left with the option of blackberries or pomegranate seeds. In most situations, I would want to shake an angry fist at Trader Joe’s (Me:”Darn you Trader Joe’s and your fresh produce!!!”) however, with time and resources both lacking, I decided to be a bit creative and grabbed the blackberries and hoped for the best.

So here’s exactly what I did to make my Not-So-Martha Blackberry Cupcakes:

For the cake part I decided to purchase the vanilla cake mix from Trader Joe’s, but really any yellow or white cake mix will work. Follow the directions as marked on the box, but when adding the wet ingredients I also threw in a cup of roughly chopped blackberries and a heaping tablespoon of blackberry preserves (for color and added blackberry flavor).

While the cupcakes were baking, I actually did follow the recipe for Martha’s Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting:

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) of unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temp (*Both of these directions are key! Seriously!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
  2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
  3. With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day.

Once the frosting had been made and it was all beautiful and glossy, that’s when I threw in another cup of roughly chopped blackberries to the mix and hand mixed it in with a rubber spatula. The result… Martha’s fabulous frosting with gorgeous clusters of blackberries mixed in!

After the cupcakes were cooled and ready for frosting, I dumped the frosting in a piping bag and with my biggest piping tip ever, I piped away! I love the look of frosting that is applied with a flat spatula or butter knife (that homemade aesthetic is unbeatable) however, there is just something decadent about a cupcake that is piped.

I topped each cupcake with a blackberry and after doing repeated taste tests, I was quite happy with the result. There’s no shame my friends in using boxed cake mix and jazzing it up with ingredients that will take it just a notch up! I was pleased with the results of my Martha Stewart hybrid cupcakes and I hope you try them too!

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