"Chocolate dipped strawberry" hi-hat cupcakes- a play on the classic romantic treat, the buttercream uses freeze dried strawberries to get its beautiful pink hue and intense strawberry flavor.
Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 375 Degrees F. Line your mini muffin pan(s) with 36 mini cupcake liners.
In a small bowl, combine boiling water and cocoa powder and stir until smooth (again, make sure you are using dutch process cocoa). Allow to cool.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and the sugar. Add the egg, mix, scrape down the sides, and mix in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add the cocoa mixture and, using a rubber spatula, stir in until smooth.
Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 of the way full (or equally amongst the 36). Bake for about 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven, allow to cool on a wire rack.
Make the buttercream: Clean the bowl of your stand mixer, the whisk attachment, and a handheld whisk, to make sure there is absolutely no oil on them. In the bowl, whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Set over a small saucepan with about an inch of simmering water (medium low heat), making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Whisk the mixture continuously until hot to the touch and no longer grainy.
Move the bowl back to the stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment to whip the egg whites into a meringue. This will take several minutes. Once the bowl is completely cooled and the meringue is whipped up, fluffy, and glossy, stop the mixer and switch out the whisk attachment for the paddle. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time until all the butter is incorporated.
While your buttercream is whipping up, crush the strawberries into a powder. I do this by cutting a tiny hole in the top of the bag (if you bought a one ounce bag of strawberries) and using my hands or a rolling pin to crush to a fine powder. Make sure the hole is small, enough to get the air out but not big enough for the powder to come out of.
Warning: your buttercream may turn into a goopy separated mess, if the meringue and the butter are not at the same temperature. If it does, try mixing it for a little longer, cranking up the speed. If it doesn't come back together after a few minutes, try taking a couple spoonfuls out, place in a microwave safe bowl, and microwave for a few seconds to melt it (don't make it too hot!). Drizzle the melted buttercream back in while whipping, and it should come back together!
Frost: Using a large round tip, frost the cupcakes, piping the buttercream tall, to form a "strawberry" shape. Once the buttercream is piped, place the cupcakes in the fridge to firm up.
Dip: Melt your chocolate and crisco (optional but makes for easier and smoother dipping) either in a double broiler or in the microwave. If you use the microwave, make sure to take it out every thirty seconds and stir, to prevent burning/scorching. Place melted chocolate in a container that is not too wide, and deep enough that you can dip your buttercream in it. Holding the cupcake by the base, dip the buttercream into the frosting, leaving a bit of pink showing around the base. Allow the chocolate to cool and harden completely.
Garnish with mint leaves to make the strawberry "stems"
Chocolate cupcake recipe adapted from: Joy of baking.
Feel free to use your favorite cupcake recipe!