Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Sweet Ending (Strawberry N' Cream Cupcakes)

Strawberries for Cupcakes

It's still hard to believe the end finally arrived, but last Tuesday was my last day as a paralegal (ever!). My fellow departing paras and I were planning a celebratory happy hour. But I also wanted to thank the other coworkers who'd befriended and guided me through the past 3 years. They'd given me something to look forward to every day at the firm, and that was no small thing :). At the least, they deserved a parting with a personal touch.

Armed with a pile of cards the weekend before, I began preparing thank you notes to each of them. And along with those, cupcakes inspired by the quintessential summer dessert, strawberry shortcake. Recalling last year's strawberry cake, I couldn't help but make a number of tweaks to bring out this cupcake's full potential. For me, a sprinkling of mint and Kirsch added just the right amount of depth to the filling, but it's completely optional.

Strawberry N' Cream Cupcakes

In the end, I was really happy I chose to say goodbye in person, and everyone seemed to enjoy my parting gift =D. My eyes misted over quite a few times throughout the day. Despite all the times when I wasn't sure I'd make it from one day to the next, I knew I'd genuinely miss this place and the personal connections I'd made. Which brings me to a question I'd like to ask of you all. I really want to stay in touch with my work friends, including older attorneys, but have never been much good at it. Do you have any tips from your own job/life transition experiences?

Strawberry N' Cream Cupcakes
[Printable Recipe]
Makes 24 cupcakes

XIAOLU'S NOTES: These cupcakes are what I'd call "delicate beauties" that need to be devoured quickly lest they wilt in the heat. They'll keep, if chilled, for a couple days after assembly. You can also make the components and chill them until ready to serve. You'll have a good amount of filling and frosting left over, but fortunately they're good on their own, too!

Vanilla Cupcakes (Recipe below)
Whipped Cream Frosting (Recipe below)
2 quarts strawberries, hulled [reserve the 12 smallest & prettiest and slice the rest]
1/2 cup sugar, or more to taste
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp fresh mint, finely minced (optional)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp Kirsch (optional but highly recommended)

Toss strawberries several times in a bowl with sugar, lemon juice, mint, vanilla, and Kirsch (if using) until very syrupy and set aside. Make whipped cream frosting (see below).

Use a paring knife to cut a shallow cone in the middle top of the cupcake. Spoon some strawberries with syrup over top, allowing it to absorb into cupcakes. Top each with a dollop of cream frosting and a strawberry half. Enjoy!

Vanilla Cupcakes
Adapted from Amy Sedaris

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the tops of 2 standard muffin tins, then line with 24 paper liners. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a different larger bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until combined into the batter. Then add the vanilla and mix again. Finally alternately beat in dry ingredients and milk. Fill liners until they are about 2/3 full (I like to use my large cookie scoop for this). Bake for 16 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely.

Whipped Cream Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature [reduced-fat is fine]
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream

Place cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment [or use a large mixing bowl and hand-held mixer]. Whisk at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Reduce speed to low and add heavy cream in slow, steady stream; then increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture holds stiff peaks, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes more, scraping bowl as needed (you should have about 4 1/2 cups).


  1. Beautiful cupcakes! Sadly, I've never been very good at keeping in touch with people either unless we're the absolute best of friends. I'm fairly good at birthdays though so I usually use that as an excuse to reconnect: "Happy birthday! Haven't seen you in awhile. We should catch up!" or something along those lines. What exciting new thing are you on to now?

  2. I am really really bad at keeping in touch with people when I don't see them daily...even if they live a few blocks away! Ugh I need to change that. Yeah I agree with Sharlene...birthdays are the way to go. Then at least you'll get to catch up once a year!

    And you know what goes well with birthdays? Cupcakes. Like these. They look awesome.

  3. Thanks for the tips, girls :). I'm kinda relieved I'm not the only one who has trouble with this. My social psych class did teach me that who we like is heavily influenced by proximity/frequency of encounter so we can probably blame it on human nature in part hehe.

  4. I guess I am the worst of all...I don't remember friends' birthday...:-(( I don't know...maybe I somehow don't take birthday seriously..could it be that I am getting older and don't feel like to celebrate it?
    Love your berry cupcake! The strawberries are so fresh and wonderful colour contrast.


  5. I would love to know about some tips, too!! I'm not good at staying in touch with others once I move or make a major transition. Good luck, though!!

    Those cupcakes look heavenly. I love the frosting. Oh my goodness!

  6. I find it very hard too, but hey, that's what Facebook and the likes are for!! And you should make a pact to meet up once a month. If I were your co-worker, and you would bring me such treats, I'd happily agree :P

  7. These look lovely! I'm sure they were enjoyed! (especially with the Kirsch ;-) What are your plans to do next?

  8. Gorgeous cupcakes! What are you going to do now that you're done being a paralegal? I wish I had some tips for you about how to keep in touch with old coworkers. I'm not very good at it! Perhaps planning group lunches/dinners? Especially if you all work in the same general area.

  9. Found your blog on foodgawker. These sound and look delicious!!
    Would you mind checking out my blog? :D

  10. Chanel11 - Thx!

    Angie - I find I'm not caring about birthdays (my own at least) as much the older I get, too. Appreciate your sweet words :).

    Memória - Gracias! The frosting is the exact same as my strawberry cake from last year and is DIVINE. Please do try it!

    Avanika - You have some great points. Even from my time at the job, I know that the lure of treats will bring even the higher-up attorneys down to my office 8).

    Danielle - I try to add Kirsch in as many things as possible, especially now that I bought that whole bottle.

    eatme_delicious - thanks for the tips! I'm going back to PT school and then hopefully getting my masters in nutrition to become a dietitian. It's in total like a 5 year plan (!).

    ajcabuang04 - thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! I'll definitely check out your site.

  11. Stunning cupcakes, even the strawberries themselves look perfect! Best of luck on the transition, I'm sure you'll make it out on the other side just fine. :)

  12. i'm sure it was doubly painful for them to lose you since you're capable of making them such tasty treats. :)

  13. I find it easier to keep in touch with my friends who run blogs. It allows me to see what's going on in their worlds and drop timely notes. It should be exponentially more effective for you as you continue to tempt your friends with delicious reasons to keep track of your blog. Now, it's on them: you do the cooking, they should clean the dishes!

  14. Sala - Thanks, babe!

    Simplylife - You're very sweet to say that.

    Hannah - Haha, I definitely picked the prettiest ones as garnish, but they were all tasty and quickly devoured. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

    grace - there were a few jokes about me delivering treats even after the job and honestly I'm not sure who to give my treats to anymore!

    Anonymous - great advice! and I certainly wouldn't say no to some help with the dishes ^_^.

  15. Me neither! It's really hard to keep in touch with former coworkers. We have a daily busy life and different schedule :)

    Love this shot, look so refershing!

  16. How lovely! What a thoughtful and charming farewell gift! :)

  17. Those look so delicious! A great combination, mmmhhhh.



  18. I need this in my stomach... now! Yuummmmmyyy!

  19. Love your interpretation with these amazing cupcakes. I have featured them in our strawberry cupcake collection on Party Cupcake Ideas.


I love hearing from you all! Please leave me a message if you have questions, advice, or just to let me know you stopped by. Your feedback is always very much appreciated. Thanks! <3 Xiaolu