1cup(230 grams) unsalted buttersoftened to room temperature
3cups(360 grams) powdered sugar
1(1-ounce) bagfreeze-dried strawberries
2-3tablespoons(30-45 ml) heavy whipping cream
1teaspoonpure vanilla extract
Chocolate Covered Strawberries:
16medium sized strawberries
To make the chocolate cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two 12-count muffin pans with 16 cupcake liners and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the brown sugar and granulated sugar until well combined. Then whisk in the oil, buttermilk, egg, and vanilla extract and mix until just combined.
Add the instant espresso powder to the 1/2 cup boiling water and mix until fully dissolved. Add to the mixing bowl and mix until everything is just combined. The batter will be thin, this is okay.
Evenly distribute the batter between all 16 cupcake liners, making sure to fill each one a little over halfway full. Bake in separate batches at 350°F (177°C) for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and carefully remove the cupcakes from the pans, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the strawberry buttercream frosting:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time, making sure to mix in each addition until fully combined.
Add the freeze-dried strawberries to a blender or food processor and blend until powdery. Then, mix the freeze-dried strawberry powder into the frosting.
Mix in the heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, and salt until fully combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
To make the chocolate covered strawberries:
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Add the chocolate to a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 20-second increments, stirring well after each increment, until melted and smooth.
Dip each strawberry into the chocolate one at a time and place on the prepared baking sheet. Transfer to the refrigerator until the chocolate has hardened.
To assemble the cupcakes:
Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired. Top each cupcake with one of the chocolate covered strawberries.
Buttermilk substitute: You can make your own buttermilk using my recipe here, just cut that recipe in half for 1/2 cup of buttermilk.If you do not have any espresso powder you can use 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules or replace the boiling water and espresso powder with 1/2 cup of strongly brewed hot coffee.Cupcakes may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.To prepare ahead of time: The chocolate cupcakes can be prepared 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. The frosting may also be prepared 2-3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When you're ready to frost the cupcakes just set the frosting on the counter to bring to room temperature and mix well before using it. You can prep the chocolate covered strawberries up to one day in advance, I would suggest storing them in the refrigerator until you assemble the cupcakes.Freezing instructions: Chocolate cupcakes freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Strawberry frosting will also freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature and mix well before using.