Strawberry Mascarpone Cupcakes
1 box vanilla cake mix (like Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe French Vanilla cake)
1 (8-ounce) container mascarpone cheese, chilled
1/2 cup thawed and drained frozen strawberries
1/4 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners' sugar
Special equipment: 1 muffin tin
In a food processor combine the mascarpone cheese, strawberries, 1/4 cup sugar, and lemon juice. Process the mixture until smooth. Transfer the strawberry mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a small tip. Push the tip gently into the bottom of a cupcake and squeeze in the strawberry mixture until the cupcake plumps. Continue with the remaining cupcakes.
In a small saucepan bring the 1/2 cup sugar, water, and vanilla extract to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved. In a medium bowl combine the vanilla syrup with the confectioner's sugar. Stir until smooth. Working quickly, use a rubber spatula spread the icing on the top of the cupcakes. If the icing begins to firm up, place in the microwave for a few seconds to warm up again.