Now that Spring has officially arrived, I am a happy person. I am so not a winter girl. The bundling up, chapped lips, and cold feet are not for me. Honestly, I shouldn’t even complain about winter because we Texans do not experience a fraction of the difficulties folks up North have to put up with. Still, I am glad to say goodbye to the cold and get ready for the warmer (read, scorching hot) Texas summer.
Texas is prettiest at March and April when the days are warm and the nights are pleasant and every tree is a vibrant shade of green. This also means we have numerous events and outings to plan, starting with Easter. If you are planning something similar, this post has everything you need.
Let’s start with these pretty and affordable party accessories like plates, cups, napkins and more. Party Pail Inc. very graciously sent me all this stuff to try out and share with you, but only if I liked them. And I absolutely did! While you can definitely grab such accessories easily from the dollar store or elsewhere, their quality and durability leaves something to be desired. But Party Pail products are very well made. They have a wide selection of pretty colors and patterns and they have cute party decorations as well. Go to their website and take a look-see.
Since they sent me plates and napkins from their new Tulip Time design line for Easter, I wanted to make a light and cheery dessert. The weather put me in such a good mood that I actually made two! I made fresh strawberry cupcakes with strawberry buttercream frosting and some coconut milk ice cream infused with rosemary, mint and lime with a blackberry sauce to go with it.
The ice cream sounds complicated and is a mouthful to say, I agree. But believe me, it is very easy to make. It is completely vegan (no dairy, no eggs) and is so creamy and delicious. But of course, it doesn’t taste like “regular” ice cream. You know how I feel about these alternate recipes that claim to be “as good as the original”, right? In my opinion, it just doesn’t work that way. Well, this ice cream has a strong coconut flavor as can be expected. The first time I tried coconut milk ice cream was more than a decade ago when mom made it from a cookbook. We had it with some fresh fruit I think, but didn’t make it regularly after that.
This is not coconut flavored ice cream, but coconut milk ice cream made entirely from coconut milk. You simply cook some full-fat coconut milk (it’s very important to use the full-fat version to achieve the creaminess), sugar and cornstarch together to make a custard. This is the base and you can play with it as you like, flavoring it with a host of ingredients.
On a whim, I decided to infuse it with some fresh herbs and lime zest. I let the mint, rosemary and lime zest steep for around 20 minutes and ended up with a subtle yet beautiful flavor. You can use only one of the herbs as well (or nothing at all if you just cannot stand the idea of herbs in desserts, like someone I know in my house…ahem!). I made a quick blackberry sauce to drizzle over the ice cream and it was a very refreshing combo. I was reminded of the vanilla-blackberry ice cream I made last year and cannot wait to start making more frozen treats this summer.
As for the cupcakes, this one is made from scratch and I used fresh strawberry puree to impart strawberry flavor. Usually one comes across recipes with cake mixes and strawberry flavored gelatin, but all you need to do is tweak a basic vanilla cupcake recipe. I replaced an egg in this recipe with some strawberry puree.
The cupcakes made my house smell amazing and they tasted even more amazing! The buttercream frosting is a basic vanilla frosting recipe with some thickened strawberry sauce added to it.
I am enjoying a little spring soiree with my family and hope you are enjoying warmer days too. So let’s throw caution to the wind, eat cupcakes and ice cream and get the party started, shall we?!
STRAWBERRY CUPCAKES WITH STRAWBERRY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
You will need: (Makes 12 cupcakes)
For the cupcakes,
- All purpose flour – 1 1/2 cups
- Baking powder – 1 1/2 tsp
- Salt – 1/4 tsp
- Butter – 1/2 cup, softened
- Sugar – 1 cup
- Eggs – 2, large
- Milk – 1/4 cup
- Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
- Lemon/lime juice – 1 tbsp
- Strawberry puree – 1/3 cup (see notes)
- Red food coloring – a few drops (optional)
For the buttercream frosting,
- Butter – 1/2 cup, softened
- Powdered or confectioner’s sugar – 2 cups
- Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
- Salt – a pinch
- Milk – 1-2 tbsp (or as needed)
- Strawberry sauce – 1 tbsp (see notes)
- Red food coloring – a few drops (optional)
- Strawberry Cupcakes: Puree 10-12 large strawberries and strain the puree to remove the seeds. Set aside.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg.F and line a 12-cupcake pan with paper liners.
- Sift dry ingredients together and keep aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each egg.
- In a large measuring cup, combine the milk, vanilla extract, lemon/lime juice and 1/3 cup strawberry puree. Mix well.
- Add the sifted dry ingredients slowly to the butter mixture, alternating with the wet ingredients, and beat till just incorporated. If desired, add a few drops of red food color and mix well.
- Divide the batter into the cupcake cups and bake for about 20-25 minutes or till cupcakes pass the toothpick test.
- Remove from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes. Then cool the cupcakes completely on a wire rack before frosting. Recipe follows.
- Strawberry Buttercream Frosting: Cook the strawberry puree leftover from making cupcakes to make 1 tbsp thick strawberry sauce. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the softened butter on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Add powdered sugar, a half cup at a time. After each addition, beat well on high speed for a few seconds.
- Then add vanilla, a pinch of salt and strawberry sauce and combine well. Add a few drops of red food color if desired, and combine well.
- Loosen the frosting with a few tablespoons of milk, beating well after each addition to make a smooth and fluffy frosting. Alternately, if the frosting is a bit thin, thicken it by adding some more powdered sugar.
- Finally, beat the frosting well for a couple of minutes to make it light and fluffy.
- Frost completely cooled cupcakes with the strawberry buttercream frosting. Store leftover cupcakes and frosting in the refrigerator.
- I pureed and strained 10 large strawberries and it was just right for both the cupcakes and frosting. I used 1/3 cup of strained puree for the cupcakes and cooked down the leftover (around 1/4 cup) to make 1 tbsp of thick sauce to add to the frosting. Using this strawberry sauce ensures that the frosting will be nice and fluffy with a lovely strawberry flavor.
- You can add a handful of chopped strawberries to the cupcake batter if you want to.
ROSEMARY, MINT AND LIME INFUSED COCONUT MILK ICE CREAM WITH BLACKBERRY SAUCE
You will need: (Makes 3 cups ice cream, serves 4-6)
For the ice cream,
- Full-fat coconut milk – 3 cups
- Sugar – 1/2 cup
- Mint leaves – 8-10
- Rosemary – 3-4 sprigs
- Lime zest – 2 tsp
- Cornstarch – 2 tbsp
For the blackberry sauce,
- Blackberries – 1 lb
- Water – 1/4 cup
- Sugar – 3-4 tbsp (depending on the sweetness of the berries)
- Lime juice – 2 tsp
- Cornstarch – 2 tsp
- Rosemary-Mint-Lime Infused Coconut Milk Ice Cream: Dissolve the cornstarch in 1/2 cup of coconut milk without any lumps and set aside.
- Combine the rest of the coconut milk, sugar, mint, rosemary and lime zest in a saucepan and start heating gently. Once heated through, remove from flame, cover and allow to steep for 20-30 minutes. Take care not to let the coconut milk mixture boil.
- Strain this mixture, discard the herbs and lime zest and return the flavored coconut milk to the pan. Start heating again on medium heat and stir in the cornstarch paste as well. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring all the while, till the mixture thickens like a custard. Remove from heat and pour into a flat, freezer-safe container. Cool completely and freeze for 6 hours or overnight.
- To serve, remove from freezer and rest on counter-top for 5 minutes before scooping out the ice cream. Serve with a generous drizzle of blackberry sauce on top. Recipe follows.
- Blackberry Sauce: Wash the berries and puree them in a blender. Strain this to remove the seeds. Keep aside.
- Dissolve the cornstarch in 2 tbsp water without any lumps and keep aside.
- Take the blackberry puree, rest of the water, sugar and lime juice in a sauce pan and bring to a gentle boil. Then add the cornstarch paste and cook gently for 2 minutes or slightly thickened to a syrup like consistency.
- Cool completely and store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator. This keeps well for a few days and is great on ice creams, pancakes and more.
- Use the freshest mint leaves and rosemary sprigs. You can also try with sage, thyme or any combination of your favorite herbs.
- Alternately, you can flavor the coconut milk with cardamom powder or saffron for an Indian touch.
- You can make the sauce with any other summer fruit like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, plums, mangoes and so on.
- You can combine the fruit sauce directly with the coconut milk custard and then freeze for fruit flavored ice cream.
So, there you have it, two very sweet and colorful spring desserts. I really hope you give the cupcakes and coconut milk ice cream a try. Both recipes are a treat for lovers of fresh flavors. Your family would love them, I am sure.
Happy Spring and Happy Easter to all who are celebrating!
Disclaimer: Party Pail Inc. sent me their party supplies to use in a photo shoot. But I was not compensated in any other manner and all opinions stated above are mine.
I am linking this up at these awesome blogs.
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- By Stephanie Lynn