Made these for a friend's Birthday party. I used a basic vanilla cupcake recipe and added scrapings of a vanilla bean for added flavor but honestly the cupcakes are just vehicles for delivering the gorgeous buttercream. This Rapberry buttercream recipe is from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book. You get enough buttercream to frost about 20 cupcakes.
1 cup fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur
2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup water
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¾ pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Fresh raspberries, for garnish
In a small bowl, combine the fresh raspberries with the raspberry liqueur.
In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the 2/3 cup of sugar and the water and cook to 240 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the 3 tablespoons sugar and beat until there are medium stiff – but not dry – peaks of meringue.
When the sugar syrup reaches 240 degrees, decrease the speed of the mixer to medium, and immediately but slowly pour the hot liquid sugar in a steady stream down the side of the bowl and into the meringue. (Or, if the syrup is not yet 240 degrees when the meringue is ready, turn off the mixer until it is. Then turn on the mixer to medium and add the syrup). Beat together until stiff glossy peaks form.
With the mixer on medium speed, add the butter in pieces to the meringue. The mixture will break, but just keep beating and it will come together beautifully.
Pour the raspberries and the raspberry liquid into the buttercream and beat on medium-high speed until combined.
If using the buttercream immediately, set aside at room temperature. If not, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. If the buttercream has been chilled, let it reach room temperature before beating it in the electric mixer. The buttercream will break, but then it will come together beautifully.
Once the cupcakes have cooled just pipe or spread a liberal amount of buttercream on each cupcake, adorn with a fresh raspberry and serve at room temperature. If you refrigerate the cakes make sure you leave it out at room temperature for 30 min before serving the cakes.