The next step into this week of Mermaid amazingness is in honor of my fabulous mother's birthday! Truly, she's more of a mermaid than I am. She spends about 75% of her summer in the water. And... about 50% of the rest of the year in and about the water as well. We're talking rivers, lakes, pools, etc. If there's a body of water, she'll find it and she'll be in it with a cocktail or two in her hand.
Every year for one another's birthday we each take the time and effort to make or go and buy one another our favorite cravable cupcakes or cake. This year I opted for a local Austin food truck that makes my most favorite strawberry cupcakes in the entire world. For my mom though? She's getting an oldie but a goodie. It's a surprise cupcake that we've made together in the past and fell in love at first bite.
This cupcake right here is one of the few that sort of sent me along my path of food, recipes, and baking 'experimenting'. I fell in love with the fact that I could swap out the water or milk in a cake batter for a fruit juice and end up with a much more flavorful and moist cake in the end.
My mom was never (and still is not) a recipe experimenter. She is the sort that must have the exact amounts of the exact ingredients in order to 'successfully' make a recipe. If she's missing one thing, she gives up and calls it quits! Not this girl though. I love to shake things up and make a recipe my own. Or even come up with one from no where.
Initially, this Mermaid Cupcake was one that came from another cookbook. However... I've made so many changes to it over the years, and even changed the frosting entirely to give me a cupcake that was proud to call my own. If you read this before they get to you today, try to look surprised mom!
To lighten these cupcakes up, I started out with a plain jane boxed strawberry cake mix. Nothing too fancy this time around. I then added in some mini marshmallows (that's not really the healthier part.) But, I did swap out the water/milk that the box called for and instead used an organic low sugar strawberry juice pack. I have those packs on hand all the time for my little girl. Just swapping in the juice is the secret ingredient of this recipe. It works wonders I tell you!
For the frosting, I didn't go with a buttercream this time around. While I love a good buttercream... I can't stand that I'm unable to use a light butter in it. So instead, I opted for a fresh 'whipped cream' creamcheese-less frosting. Sounds complicated, right? Well, it's not! It's one of the most simple and easy to make frostings that there is; thanks to dry instant pudding mixes. I promise, you won't be disappointed!
Mermaid Treasure Cupcakes
Servings: 24 • Size: 1 Cupcake • Calories: 301.6 • Fat: 22 g • Saturated Fat: 10.2 • Carb: 24.2 g • Fiber: 0 g • Protein: 3.2 g • Sugar: 13.8 g • Sodium: 254 mg
1 (15.25 Oz.) Box Strawberry Cake Mix
1 C. Mini Marshmallows
1 C. Strawberry Juice Drink
2 Whole Large Eggs
2 Large Egg Whites
1/2 C. Light Butter, Softened
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 Tsp. Almond Extract
1 Qt. Heavy Whipping Cream
1 (3.4 Oz.) Box Fat Free Cheesecake Instant Pudding Mix
1/3 C. Powdered Sugar
Green and/or Blue Food Coloring
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners and give them a quick spritz of non-stick baking spray; set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the 1 (15.25 Oz.) Box Strawberry Cake Mix, 1 C. Mini Marshmallows, 1 C. Strawberry Juice, 2 Whole Large Eggs, 2 Large Egg Whites, 1/2 C. Light Butter, 1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract and 1/2 Tsp. Almond Extract.
Divide the mixture evenly among the 24 prepared cupcake liners.
Place the pan(s) into the oven to bake for 12-17 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow the pan to cool slightly before transferring the cupcakes onto a wire rack to continue cooling.
While the cupcakes are cooling; in a large mixing bowl add the quart of heavy whipping cream and dry cheesecake pudding mix. Beat on medium speed until the mixture starts to get thick and gradually add the powdered sugar. Continue to beat until the mixture is thick and creamy and still spreadable/pipeable.
NOTE: I like to place my bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for a few minutes before starting the whipping process when making any sort of frosting using heavy whipping cream.
Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, pipe or otherwise frost the cupcakes as desired.
I use a gallon ziplock with the corner cut off to pipe mine. I'm real fancy like that, y'all.
NOTE: My cupcakes fell a bit in the centers while cooling, I think this was due to the marshmallows. Don't worry though if this happens, they still taste amazing and the frosting covers the middles!
Add any extra 'mermaid' decoration and enjoy!