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Real Strawberry Cupcakes

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Dessert: Real Strawberry Cupcakes
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INGREDIENTS
Servings: 12
fresh strawberries, or as needed
eggs
white sugar
vegetable oil
vanilla extract
lemon zest
all-purpose flour
baking powder
salt
instant vanilla pudding mix
red food coloring, or as needed
 
cream cheese, softened
butter, softened
confectioners' sugar
vanilla extract
fresh strawberries, sliced
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Spray cupcake cups with cooking spray, or line with cupcake liners.
  2. Place 8 strawberries into a blender, and blend until smooth. Pour the puree through a strainer to remove seeds. Puree should equal about 3/4 cup. Set the puree aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, white sugar, vegetable oil, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, lemon zest, and strawberry puree until well combined. Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla pudding mix (for a moister cupcake), and red food coloring to reach a desired shade of pink. Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake cups, filling each about 2/3 full.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until the cupcakes have risen and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 23 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool at least 10 minutes before frosting.
  5. To make frosting, beat cream cheese and butter together in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until smooth, and mix in confectioners' sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract to make a lump-free icing. Frost each cupcake with about 2 tablespoons of icing, and top each cupcake with a strawberry slice.
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