We just turned F-O-U-R + Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes!

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

It’s our B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y!!!!!

That’s right Friends, The Culinary Chronicles turns four this week and we’re all grown up now!

Um, ok…kind of.

Not really, but you get my drift.

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

This past year has been filled with tons of incredible milestones for the site from new partnerships with fantastic brands, recognition from respected media and of course, the release of my cookbook this past summer.

Phew!

What a ride!!!

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

A huge— GINORMOUS THANKS to you all for the continued support and readership. I know I can be quite random and silly at times. So….

Mahalo!

Grazie!

Merci!

Cảm ơn!

Hannad! …………That’s elvish btw. #LOTRnerd

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

If I could, I’d send each of y’all a big slice of birthday cake to celebrate our blogiversary. But until I can figure out the logistics behind all of that, I’d like to virtually share with you these Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes.

A vanilla chiffon cake filled with a slightly tart, fresh strawberry compote and topped with mounds and mounds of strawberry swiss meringue buttercream.

They’re light, flirty, and just Pretty in Pink.

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

And with that folks, I can’t wait to see what crazy and delicious Foodventures this upcoming year has in store for us. Here’s to many, MANY more to come!

Cheers!

_______________________________

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Filling:
2 cups fresh strawberries, roughly chopped
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup water
2 pinches of salt

Batter:
2¼ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream (from Martha Stewart):
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1¼  cups sugar
1½ cups unsalted butter, softened, cut into small pieces
1½ cups fresh strawberries, pureed

Garnish:fresh strawberry slices
sprinkles, nonpareils, etc.

Preheat oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

Prepare the filling. Place the strawberries and sugar in a small pot and cook over medium low heat until the juices begin to release. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, water and lemon juice. Add the mixture to the strawberries and stir in to combine. Continue cooking and stirring the strawberries until it’s thickened to the consistency of a jam. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt. Allow to cool completely.

In a bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites in another bowl. Put the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. With the paddle attachment, beat at medium speed until ingredients are light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Mix in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, mixing until the batter is well mixed, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Continue beating the mixture for another few minutes to ensure that the batter is thoroughly mixed. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about ¾ full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans for five minutes, and then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the buttercream.  Place whites and sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat, and attach bowl to a mixer. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add butter, 1 piece at a time, whisking well after each addition. Switch to a paddle attachment. With mixer on low, add strawberry puree, and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.

Begin assembling the cupcakes. Using a pairing knife, piping tip, apple corer, or very small round cookie cutter (I used a small biscuit ring), cut out a small cavity in the cupcake. Take a pairing knife to help pop out the center. Fill each of the cupcakes with a heaping teaspoonful of the strawberry compote. Replace the small piece of cake to cover the filled centers.

Fit a piping bag with a decorative tip and fill with the buttercream. Top each of the cupcakes with large swirls of buttercream and adorn with berry slices, sprinkles or other decorative pieces.

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese because it’s my Blogiversary!

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

My how time flies……

In the past three years, I left a comfortable job and moved to a brand new city. My family has welcomed a few new additions and have had our share of ups and downs. I’ve celebrated milestones with friends and loved ones and have stumbled upon great adventures.

And of course, three years ago I started this blog.

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

I can hardly believe how a quick decision one “wine-induced” night has catapulted me into a wonderful world of food and self-exploration.

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

This experience has introduced me to the food blogging community—a group of folks who are so supportive and generous. And I have been extended wonderful projects to participate in–which I still find so mind boggling! Not too shabby for this home cook :)

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

After three years, I am still so grateful. Thanks to my loved ones who serve as my steady food testers and inspiration.

And Thanks to you All for your continued support of The Culinary Chronicles. I promise, there’s a lot more to come.

ps. To celebrate, try out my Lobster Macaroni and Cheese. Comforting and a bit decadent…just how I like my food.

Happy Foodventures!

_______________________________________

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 6

Ingredients:

¾ Pound Elbow Pasta
2½ Cups Whole Milk
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
4 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Gruyere Cheese, shredded
1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 Cup Fontina Cheese, cubed
½ Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/8 Teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg
Kosher Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
10 Ounces Cooked Lobster Meat, tail and claw
½ Cup Toasted Panko Breadcrumbs
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoon Fresh Chives, diced

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Heavily salt the water and cook the pasta for 8-10 minutes until it is just shy of al dente. Drain well and set aside.

In a small saucepan, add the milk and bring to a slow simmer.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt the butter and vegetable oil together over medium-low heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk for about 2-3 minutes to allow the flour to cook. Whisk in the hot milk and continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Remove the pot from heat and add in the Gruyere, Cheddar Cheese and Fontina. Stir until the cheeses have melted and then add in the red pepper flakes, nutmeg, kosher salt and black pepper. Add in the pasta and lobster and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into a greased 9×9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle the top with Panko and Parmesan Cheese. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and bake in a 400 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chives over the baked dish.