Real Strawberry Cupcakes
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Spray cupcake cups with cooking spray, or line with cupcake liners.
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.
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.
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.
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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