Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
2/3 cup whole milk
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract Filling and Topping
8 cups stemmed and sliced strawberries (about 5 pints), plus 12 large strawberries, cleaned and stemmed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 cups heavy whipping cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 12 extra-large muffin tin cups with large paper liners. Spray the paper liners with nonstick cooking spay. Make the cupcakes: Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over low heat just until it is hot; it should measure about 150°F on the thermometer. Remove form heat.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl an set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs an sugar until thickened and lightened to a cream color, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts. On low speed, mix in the flour mixture until it is incorporated. Slowly add the hot milk and continue mixing for about 30 seconds, until the batter is smooth; the batter will be thin. Fill each paper liner with a scant ½ cup of batter, to about 5/8 inch below the top of the liner. Bake just until the top feels firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 16 minutes.
Cool the cupcakes from the pan onto a wire tack and let cool completely, then remove the paper liners. Make the filling and topping: In a large bowl, stir together the sliced strawberries and granulated sugar. Let sit for 30 minutes. Some juice will be released as the strawberries sit, and they will shrink to about 6 cups.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Using a serrated knife, slice each cupcake into three layers. Place the bottom of each cupcake in an individual serving plate.
Spoon ¼ cup of the strawberries, with their juices, onto each one, and then spoon ¼ cup whipped cream onto each. Top with the middle cupcake layers and repeat with the remaining sliced strawberries and another ¼ cup whipped cream for each. Some sliced strawberries and whipped cream will spill onto the plates; this is good. Place the cupcake tops on top and garnish each one with a tablespoon of whipped cream and a whole strawberry. Sever immediately.