This blueberry cupcake recipe is long overdue, I’ve had it ready to share with you for almost a year now (!) but because I had *just* missed blueberry season last summer, it had to wait. If you’ve a keen eye and have been following me awhile, you may recognize these cupcakes from my profile pictures on all my socials (and here on the homepage!) ;p
This recipe stems from this, fully and insanely purple and blue blueberry cake. When blueberry season rolled around last summer, I had an urge for that cake but in cupcake form. There are a few things I’ve changed to make it a good cupcake recipe, but the ideas are the same: blueberry puree, blueberry powder from freeze dried berries. More blueberry in the buttercream…. just so much blueberry!
These taste like a fresh midsummer day enjoyed next to a bush overflowing with ready-to pick berries. The purple color is a happy accident, a natural result of using blueberry powder to flavor the cake batter and buttercream.
Cake Flour: made from a finer mill and with cornstarch this will make the cupcakes more tender than all purpose. You can substitute with all purpose in a pinch but swap out one tablespoon of it for cornstarch.
Canola oil: Any flavorless oil will work here such as grapeseed or avocado.
Blueberries: Fresh or frozen, we’re going to cook them down and get rid of some of the water in the berries to concentrate the flavor. This may surprise you (or not, it did me!) but there are a few varieties of blueberries, and depending on which one you use the batter will be stronger and more or less colored.
A note on cupcake batter color
My first batch of blueberries that I used was rather gray so my cupcakes turned out a light grayish blue, they still tasted wonderful. My second was a very dark purple variety and the resulting cupcakes were almost navy. What kind you use doesn’t matter (just don’t use wild unless you have a ton of them, you’d need a lot to get the same amount of juice) in terms of taste but I want to prepare you for the color of the batter looking different than mine.
Freeze dried blueberries: One could argue that this isn’t a necessary ingredient but one would be at odds with me; freeze dried berries are as light as air but pack so much flavor and take the cupcakes from gentle berry to forwardly so. They are also our main flavoring for the buttercream!
Buttermilk or Kefir: If you can find it, use a blueberry flavored kefir or a watered down blueberry greek yogurt, the added flavor is lovely here.
How to make blueberry cupcakes in a few easy steps
Make the buttercream: I like making this in advance (the night before at least) because it allows time for the blueberry powder to really dissolve into the buttercream base. As it sits the buttercream becomes darker and stronger tasting.
Cook and reduce some blueberries: A small pot over medium heat, let the berries break down then cook as they let out some of the water. Let this cool before you add it to the batter.
Make a bowl, just use a whisk cake batter: Whisk dry ingredients together then add the wet and whisk to combine, couldn’t be easier!
Bake, cool and frost!
Can I make any part of this ahead of time?
Yes – if making the cupcakes ahead of time, store them in an airtight container in the freezer after baking & cooling. If making the buttercream ahead of time, let it sit at room temperature after making for at least an hour – this helps the blueberry powder dissolve quicker, then you can transfer to the fridge for about a week or the freezer for longer storage.
Can I substitute the blueberry powder with something else?
The cake just isn’t the same without it. The reduced blueberry puree does add flavor but the dried powder enhances it quite a bit. I think they are best used together.
Can I also add some fresh berries to the batter for bits of fruit?
You can, I’d add them to the batter at the very end right before filling the muffin tins.
Recipe for Blueberry Cupcakes
Tender & moist cupcakes made with fresh and freeze dried blueberries, topped with a blueberry buttercream.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, use the back of a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula to press down on the room temperature cream cheese to smooth it out and remove any lumps. Add the butter and begin mixing it with the blueberry powder, salt and vanilla until light and fluffy - about 4 minutes.
Add the powdered sugar and mix to combine. Add milk, if not using the cream cheese, just enough to get to a smooth consistency. Place in an airtight container and set aside (over the counter, or if keeping overnight, store in the fridge then let come to room temperature before piping).
Make the cupcakes
In a small pot, add the blueberries and cook over medium low heat for about 10-15 minutes. They will soften and burst, use the back of a spoon to press them to release their juices. Cook until all the berries are completely soft, most have burst and it’s getting a bit thick. Press through a fine mesh sieve (you should have about 70g or ¼ cup puree), and set aside to cool. Discard the skins.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a one dozen cupcake tin with liners.
In a bowl, rub the zest with the sugar, if using. Beat or whisk together the sugar and eggs until very light and fluffy, at least 3-5 minutes. Add the oil, pouring in slowly, and beating as you go.
Stir in the blueberry puree. Add the flour and dry ingredients to the mix, and the kefir. Mix to just combine.
Divide batter between muffin cups, you have enough to make 12 cupcakes. Bake for about 16-18 minutes, until the tops spring back when pressed.
When cupcakes are cool you can frost them with the blueberry buttercream.
For the blueberry powder, use one 1.2 oz bag (34g) and split the ground powder between the cake and buttercream.