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If we were hanging out today, I’d try to bribe you with a Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcake to tell me how you really feel about all of these Best Food Blog lists.

I used to get paid to write lists. Writers love lists. No interviews to schedule and reschedule, not much outside research. You pick the Top 10 Beach Books for People Who Hate to Read or the 37 Most Annoying Lines in the History of “CSI: Miami,” do a little Googling, ask some friends for their opinions, and you’re done. That’s not to knock the food bloggers who’ve made these lists. But, when the same ones are mentioned again and again, that creates a very exclusive club and bloggers who feel pressured to copy [Insert successful blogger’s name here] or drop out. Maybe it’s time for a new list, something like “The 25 Best Food Blogs You’ve Probably Never Heard Of,” to shake things up a little.

What about your blogroll? Is it your personal “Best Food Blog” list or a patchwork of blogs you visit, link-exchange buddies and bloggers everyone else lists? Do you leave off bloggers who are “too” famous? I hadn’t given mine too much thought, but it’s time for an overhaul. I read, admire and rip off way more blogs than are on my list.

P.S. Everyone’s making strawberry cupcakes right now, but these are the best I’ve tried. Moist, bright pink cakes topped with strawberry cream cheese frosting. Cream. Cheese. The cream cheese cuts the sweet and gives these cupcakes a more balanced flavor than the typical butter-and-powdered sugar icing. Pink and powerful. Like the Raging Pink Hulk.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Adapted From Paula Deen’s “The Lady & Sons Just Desserts”

Makes 36 cupcakes

  • 1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix
  • 1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
  • 1 (15-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed (I wound up buying two 10 oz. packages and using some of the leftover strawberry puree in the frosting.)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
    Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup strawberry puree (Measure it from the leftover puree you made for the batter.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Up to 7 cups confectioners’ sugar
    Garnish (optional):

  • Freshly sliced strawberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 3 (12-cup) muffins pans with cupcake papers.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. (The batter might seem runny. Just roll with it.)
  3. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake for about 20 minutes, turning the pans once, halfway through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
  4. For the Frosting: In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree and the vanilla extract. (The rest of the puree is leftover but can be used in smoothies or on ice cream for a delicious treat.) Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth.
  5. Frost the cupcakes with a butter knife or spatula, or pipe on the frosting with a big star tip.  Garnish with fresh strawberries, if desired.

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