Monday, July 22, 2013

Strawberry Balsamic Cupcakes with Basil

This flavor has been on my radar since Spring when my parents visited me at school and we stumbled upon an oil and vinegar store in Rhinebeck, NY. Wherever there are free samples of something, you can be certain that I will not be far behind...I could smell this shop and it's endless samples of bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar from a MILE away. After trying probably close to twenty different oils and vinegars, I finally settled on a rather large bottle of dark chocolate balsamic vinegar (shocking, I know), and so began the idea for this cupcake.

Balsamic makes me think strawberry, automatically. The sweetness of the strawberries pairs beautifully with the tangy-ness of vinegar. And as you know, lately I've been obsessed with squeezing fresh herbs into everything possible - dessert included. Basil is one of my favorites because it has earthiness and sweetness. So naturally, balsamic + strawberry + basil = a match made in heaven for a cupcake. I started by sauteing the strawberries in the vinegar with freshly picked basil and a little bit of sugar.

I reduced the mixture until it was almost a puree consistency so I could add it to the cupcake batter without adding a ton of excess moisture. 

Once cooled, I topped the moist and spongy strawberry cake with Italian Meringue (no butter so I could get the toasty finish) and torched it for a gorgeously browned color. 

Each cupcake has a strawberry half and a fresh basil leaf to garnish for a little extra punch of flavor.

I love the way the colors of this one compliment each other and look so appetizing. On top of the mega-flavor built in, this cupcake looks just so darn yummy as a centerpiece to any summer picnic, cookout, or bridal shower. An experiment gone right for sure! For more sweet combos of fresh herbs and fruit, scroll down and check out my blackberry mojito cake.

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