For the pineapple filling: Combine sugar, pineapple, cornstarch, butter, lemon zest, ginger, and salt and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick and clear. Stir in the lemon juice and cool completely.
For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line standard cupcake pans with 30 cupcake liners.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and sea salt into a medium bowl and whisk together. In a liquid measuring cup, mix the wine with the vanilla extract and vanilla paste. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Turn the mixer to the lowest speed and alternate adding the flour mixture and wine mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.
Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake until golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool the cupcakes completely.
For the almonds: Heat the almonds, sugar, and butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the almonds are toasted and the sugar is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Spread on aluminum foil and sprinkle with the salt. Let cool, and then break into small clusters.
For the whipped cream: Whip the heavy cream until fluffy. Whip in the goat cheese just until incorporated. Fold in the strawberries. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large straight pastry tip.
To assemble: Remove a piece from the center of each cupcake and fill the cupcake with about 1 tablespoon pineapple filling. Pipe a swirl of goat cheese and strawberry whipped cream onto the top of each cupcake. Top each cupcake with a small amount of sugared almonds.
If using unbleached all-purpose flour instead of unbleached pastry flour, reduce the flour quantity to 3 cups.
This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. It has not been tested for home use.
Recipe courtesy Marilyn Norris, Cupcake Wars 2010