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Strawberry Shortcake Butterfly Cupcakes

These whimsical cupcakes are packed with strawberries -- literally. Each has a juicy strawberry center covered with whipped topping and is finished with a super easy-to-make strawberry butterfly.
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 24 cupcakes
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Ingredients

One 15.25-ounce box strawberry cake mix (plus required ingredients)

32 small strawberries with leaves 

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 

One .55-ounce piece green taffy, such as AirHeads® Watermelon

One 12-ounce container frozen whipped topping, such as Cool Whip, thawed 

Directions

Special equipment:
a pastry bag fitted with a medium open star tip and a melon baller, spoon or paring knife
  1. For the cupcakes: Prepare the cake mix according to the package directions to make 24 cupcakes. Bake and let cool 15 minutes in the pan on a rack, then transfer the cupcakes to a rack to cool completely.
  2. Hull and chop about 8 strawberries (for about 1 cup chopped). Stir together the chopped strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature, tossing a few times, until the strawberries are juicy, about 15 minutes. 
  3. For the remaining 24 strawberries, put a strawberry stem-side down on a cutting board. Make 2 crisscross slices down and almost all the way through the strawberry, stopping just before the stem to keep the stem end intact. Gently pull the 4 sections apart to form a butterfly. Repeat with the remaining strawberries. 
  4. Make the antennae by cutting 2 thin strips of green taffy, about 1 inch long and 1 millimeter wide each.  Roll the taffy strips between your hands to make ropes, and curl up one end of each rope slightly.  Repeat, making a pair of antennae for the remaining 23 butterflies. 
  5. To assemble the cupcakes: Transfer the whipped topping to a pastry bag fitted with a medium open star tip. Core the cupcakes from their tops with a small melon baller, spoon or paring knife. Fill each with some macerated strawberries and pipe a swirl of whipped topping on top to cover. Decorate each cupcake with a strawberry butterfly. Tuck a pair of antennae into the whipped topping behind each strawberry butterfly with the curled ends up and facing outward.  
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