“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you… I could walk through my garden forever.”
– Alfred Tennyson
And in this garden of mine we would picnic everyday, as we did the other night. There would always be stiff Manhattans in the flask, sweet strawberry cupcakes in hand and rich chocolate pudding capped with bourbon whipped cream.
You’d pick me a flower just as two more would pop up next to us.
I could live in this ever-growing garden always, as long as you were there with me.
Strawberry Cupcakes // Chocolate Pudding
adapted from Look, I made that
makes 16-18 cupcakes
Strawberries are definitely not in season here and yet I needed these cupcakes. I imagine the flavor to be much more strawberry-like if the berries are used were ruby red throughout. I’ll try again in June. But regardless we ate them happily. These we topped with brown sugar buttercream and while delicious we decided that lightly sweetened whipped cream and sliced berry on top would have been wonderful too.
2 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tea vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean (optional)
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten
1 cup pureed strawberries
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 tea rose water (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake pans with cupcake papers.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In another medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
Combine the vanilla seeds (if using), sugar and butter and beat until well combined. Add the eggs in a slow stream, beating well after each addition. Beat for 1 minute at medium speed. Gradually add the buttermilk mixture and beat for 1 minute at medium speed.
Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Stir in the pureed strawberries and the orange zest.
Spoon into the prepared cake pans and bake until the cupcakes spring back when touched lightly in the center, about 20-25 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from the pan.
Cool completely before frosting.
Brown Sugar Buttercream
4 large egg whites
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water, whisk together egg whites, sugar, and salt.
Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.
Transfer to the clean bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and cooled, about 15 minutes.
Raise speed to high; beat until stiff peaks form. Reduce speed to medium-low; add butter, 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, until fully incorporated. Add vanilla and whisk to combine.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
This really is the perfect classic pudding. The creamy texture is reminiscent of the boxed variety I remember and crave. And really, it’s no more difficult to make. Unless you use the instant pack – that’s way too easy and a little odd how it firms up so quickly.
I used dark brown sugar instead of the white which added more richness and depth to the pudding but I imagine white is the more classic choice. I’ll leave it up to your pudding discretion.
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar (see note)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups whole milk
7 ounces chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used 60% chips)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt. Whisk well to remove any lumps.
In a large saucepan bring the milk to a boil to a simmer. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and whisk together for one minute, or until thick. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and everything is well combined.
Transfer the pudding to a bowl, or individual bowls, and place wax paper or plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
Refrigerated until cold and set.
Bourbon Whipped Cream
There’s no recipe except to add as much bourbon as you think necessary to a bit of whipped cream. I added nearly 2 tablespoons to about 1 1/2 cups of already whipped cream.
Such beautiful words. I can totally envision enjoying these with my husband. And he’d go bonkers over that frosting.
Wishing you and yours a very happy Valentine’s Day.
Thanks, Brian. Happy Valentines Day to you!
So decadent (and romantic!!). Nice touch with the flask too.
Manhattans and decadent desserts. Sounds like a wonderful picnic. At first, I read the title as Desert Picnic, which got me thinking that I need to plan a Palm Springs trip soon with the man. I find the desert this time of year to be particularly relaxing and romantic 🙂
Brandon – How funny! We’re actually on our way to the desert tomorrow so as I was typing dessert I was actually thinking desert. Maybe we’ll have a desert picnic too. 🙂
What a perfect picnic!
Such romantic beautiful words and as always amazing food!
What a beautiful post! I love your little preserving jars!
Picnics are the best for spending time with a loved on. There’s nothing like a one on one picnic for taking away all the distractions of everyday life and giving a little perspective.
Beautiful words. I loved this post! and those cupcakes aren’t half bad either 🙂
What a cute idea!
I’m going to have to try that pudding your way! I love SK and her recipes normally work really well, but that chocolate pudding is my arch-nemesis – it has never ever set for me! But maybe I just need to be more aggressive with the heat…
Love this! And love that you both had the idea even though it’s still chilly –car-bound or not, picnics reign! I really must try these strawberry cupcakes ; I have a Southern recipe that seems a little similar but I’ve been waiting until they come into season. We don’t have that long to wait, right? Right? 🙂 Have a GREAT trip. Soak up a few extra rays for us.
If only my significant other liked sweets. That’s ok, more for me!
so romantic… I especially love the part about the portable manhattens and the strawberry cupcake-in-hands… THAT is romantic. and so are these pictures. your husband is a very lucky guy.
Such a beautiful post .. <3
Just lovely. The photos tell such a nice story. Reminds me of what’s so great about eating something delicious with important people.
It’s nice to keep the romance alive and continue to show each other how much you care! Your picnic looks lovely.
That is so beautiful and sweet. I just love that quote. And your picnic sounds perfect 🙂
oh yes. I will be making those cupcakes. so cute. love me a good picnic that’s for sure.
Lovely, Ashley. Hope you and your husband get to relax with a slice of cake and a couple of old fashioneds tonight. I’ve been wanting to try this very strawberry cake recipe since I found it last summer. Did the crumb turn out pink?
Ashley, this is adorable! I love the idea of dating your husband. Cheers!
That quote is so beautiful. If only life were that simple. The cupcakes are equally as beautiful.
OMG what a picnic! How romantic!!!
such beautiful pictures!