Blueberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes

After I stopped working in a bakery, it took me awhile to began to appreciate cake again. Working in a bakery does have its perks, primarily in the form of an abundance of day old cookies, cakes, and pastries, but the perks can soon begin to feel smothering. It started when I felt bad about tossing out food too old to sell (but not too old to enjoy). I would "save" a pastry from the trash every now and again, as it found its way onto my lunch plate. In a few short weeks, I gained the baker's obligatory ten pounds and began to realize that my mission may not be such a good idea to pursue.

Even so, it wasn't unusual to nibble on a cookie fresh from the oven or eat a day old scone with a cup of coffee to start my early mornings. It's simply a part in the life of a baker.

Eventually, as the story often goes, I grew mighty tired of eating anything baked. I became immune to the scents wafting from the oven and found the willpower, for the first time in my life, to put my obsession with eating butter and sugar at bay. Many days I'd find myself wishing for vegetables to snack on as my perpetual sugar high became too much to bear. Despite this, I could never shake my love and desire to eat cookies.

Cake scraps were easily the most abundant treat in the bakery. I assembled numerous cakes each day and, after leveling the layers, I'd find myself with a pile of scraps that begged to be eaten. Some days I'd throw them away, some days I'd happily eat them, and some days I'd eat them, not because I wanted to, but simply because they were there. As you can imagine, I reached the point where I had a hard time even looking at cake.

Mae West once said, Too much of a good thing can be wonderful, but I'd have to respectfully disagree. I don't think she was talking about cake.

After my days at the bakery, I still struggled with my slight aversion to cake. I'd make a cake here or there (and enjoyed them very much), but I wanted to crave cake again. I wanted to become so overcome with the sweetness of frosting and the classic texture of a good cake that I'd need to turn on the oven just to satisfy my appetite.

Eight months later, I can successfully proclaim my reluctance to cake is over. After making a batch of these cupcakes, I became absolutely smitten. Since these cupcakes were finished off a few days ago, I can scarcely think of anything else when I head into the kitchen to find a snack.

These Blueberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes are a dream. The cupcakes have a bright, exuberant flavor aided by a good dose of vanilla and a smattering of blueberries. The cream cheese frosting, however, elevates these cupcakes from ordinary to extraordinary. The frosting is thick and tangy, offsetting the sweet blueberries with a coveted balance. When I baked these cupcakes, all eighteen were gone in less than twelve hours—three people (including me) managed to make ten of them disappear in just a couple hours.

One Year Ago: Banana Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Blueberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Yields about 18 cupcakes

Blueberry Cupcakes
1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (169 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup (76 grams) sour cream (or plain, non-fat yogurt)
1/4 cup (59 ml) vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (175 grams) cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups (340 grams) fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a cupcake pan with baking cups.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sour cream, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Gradually add in the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the milk, stirring until batter is uniform and smooth. Stir in the blueberries.

Fill baking cups about 2/3 full (or a little less) and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack, and allow to cool to room temperature before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups (375 grams) powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the salt and vanilla. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar. If frosting is too soft, add more powdered sugar until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Likewise, if the frosting is too stiff, add more milk until it reaches a spreadable consistency.

Before serving, pipe or spread frosting on top of cooled cupcakes and decorate with a few fresh blueberries, if desired. If cupcakes will sit out more than a day, keep refrigerated in an airtight to help preserve the cupcakes. Serve at room temperature.