Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Aforementioned Roundup of Sweet White Chocolatey Goodness

is now up! And voting has begun. Yes, more voting! I know. Don't worry, it will all be over soon (until next month).

And can I just say, wow. Twenty eight entries in this one. Twenty eight separate ways for your taste buds to be very happy, and your waistline not so much. They all look pretty awesome. Go check it out (and did I mention, VOTE) at Sweetest Kitchen.

Good luck to everyone who entered!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cupcake Hero - Voting Begins

Yes, it's that time again - Cupcake Hero voting has begun! Check out the roundup here!
I am this time represented by that delicious combination of dark rich chocolate, seductive rose, sharp tangy raspberry, and vanilla foam that I call Aphrodite cupcakes.

Sadly my Peach Melba cupcakes will not be part of the competition after all, due to an email having gone missing somewhere in the ether.... sigh...
But you know what? That's okay, because I'll let you in on a little secret...
The Aphrodite ones tasted better anyway.
Now just tell me you don't want to lick that fork... I know I do...

In addition to my little creation, there are lots of other beautiful cupcakes fighting it out to be this month's Cupcake Hero - check them out over at (Vegan) Cupcakes & Other Culinary Creations.

And don't forget - you have until the 22nd to vote!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rhubarb & White Chocolate

I am actually quite a busy person. Honest.

But despite all the other things I probably should have been doing, and despite having already entered two different cupcakes into this month's Cupcake Hero competition, I nevertheless got very excited when I found out what the theme ingredient is for this month's Cupcake Mystery Box over at Sweetest Kitchen.

It's white chocolate. Oh, yum. And I had some in the cupboard.

I also have a rhubarb plant in my garden, valiantly soldiering on through the Winter months with a few spindly reddish stalks (I was worried until I looked at a gardening website. Now I'm just hanging out for Spring).

It was destiny.

Now I have your attention, right?

This baby is a white chocolate & rhubarb almond cupcake, topped with a to-die-for white chocolate cream cheese frosting. And sticky rhubarb.

To make these cupcakes, I made some fairly major alterations to a Delia Smith recipe (from "The Delia Collection: Chocolate" book), and ended up with this:-

White Chocolate Rhubarb Cupcakes
100g fresh rhubarb stalks **see note below**
75g white chocolate, coarsely grated
55g butter
75g caster sugar
2 eggs, separated
55g ground almonds
75mL milk
85g self raising flour
Modus Operandi
First, chop rhubarb finely and cook it on its own in a small saucepan over a low heat until soft. Basically you want rhubarb mush; it should only take about five minutes. Set aside to cool.
Next, cream the butter and sugar. Add egg yolks gradually (about a teaspoonful at a time), beating well until all incorporated. Beat in the stewed rhubarb until combined. Fold in ground almonds, chocolate, and milk. Sift the flour and gently fold it in.
In a clean bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks, then fold these very gently into the mixture.
Spoon mixture into cupcake papers - fill about 2/3 full if you're feeling timid, otherwise to 3/4 full - they will rise alarmingly in the oven at first, but will subside a little. Mine didn't overflow, although they looked as though they were heading that way for a while...
Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 15 - 20 minutes, or until they test clean.

**NB: I actually used 65g in my cupcake batter, but couldn't taste it in the end result. Two options here: turf it completely (it really isn't necessary, the cuppie is beautiful as is), or increase the amount. I plan to try it with 100g next time.**

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
135g cream cheese
50g unsalted butter
200g icing sugar
75g white chocolate
Modus Operandi
Melt the white chocolate. Beat the cheese and butter until smooth. Add sifted icing sugar; beat until fluffy. Add melted chocolate and beat until all combined. Try very hard not to eat it all.

Sticky Rhubarb
Combine 100g rhubarb with 35g caster sugar in a colander over a bowl, and refrigerate for 24 hours. Then put the rhubarb and the drained liquid into a small saucepan and cook gently until rhubarb is soft. Add a good squeeze of lemon juice (to taste). Cool completely before using on cupcakes.

Assemble cupcakes as follows: cupcake, frosting, rhubarb, optional white chocolate curl.

What surprised me about these is their texture - they're actually quite light and fluffy. With all that almond meal and white chocolate, I was expecting something fairly heavy - until I was filling the cupcake cases, at which point I was all like, this mixture weighs nothing! And sure enough, I have just proved to myself that there is in fact room in the world for baked goods that are not massively rich and squidgy. As long as they taste as good as this.

Now what are you waiting for?? Head on over to Sweetest Kitchen and check out the roundup of sweet white chocolatey goodness - or at any rate, do that after the 21st August.
And don't forget to vote for your favourite!

For that matter - there's still time to enter! Check out the incentives:

The winner of August’s Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge will receive prizes from:

Thank you to all our prize sponsors!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Peach Melba Cupcakes

Peach Melba is a dessert, invented by French chef Auguste Escoffier in the early 1890s to honour the Australian opera singer Dame Nellie Melba. It essentially consists of peaches served with vanilla icecream and raspberry coulis.

So when I heard that this month's Cupcake Hero theme is raspberry (chosen by Amy at Cupcakes and Other Culinary Creations), and after I'd finished doing my happy dance and started thinking, the thinks that I was thinking were: What does raspberry go with? Chocolate. Yes. But really I wanted to do something a bit different. And then I thought of Peach Melba. I mean sure, it's called Peach Melba, but really it's the raspberries doing all the work. If it wasn't for them, it'd just be peaches-and-icecream.

So could I recreate it as a cupcake without using icecream? Well of course I could! After all, a really good vanilla icecream is just frozen and churned vanilla custard, right? So here we go:

Peach Melba Cupcakes - a peach and raspberry cupcake topped with a swirl of creme patissiere and a drizzle of raspberry coulis.

Cupcakes (adapted from Planet Cake's Vanilla Cupcake recipe)
150g dried peaches (if you have fresh ones available, please feel free to use them - or even better, poach them and then use them! If so, adjust quantity to cause maximum peach flavour whilst still maintaining structural integrity of cupcake. It's Winter here, so dried ones it is for me)
175g butter
160g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
100g plain flour
160g self raising flour
150mL milk
75g fresh or frozen raspberries

Modus Operandi
Place dried peaches into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for at least 20 minutes. Drain & discard liquid (or call it "juice" & feed it to your child). Obviously if you are using fresh or freshly poached peaches, disregard this first step.
Chop half the soaked peaches finely, and blitz the other half in a food processor or blender until smooth.
Cream butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, and then add pureed peaches and beat until combined. Stir in chopped peaches. Fold in half the sifted flours, then the milk, then the rest of the flours.
Finally, very gently fold in the raspberries, trying not to break them up.
Spoon into cupcake papers, and bake at 180 degrees Celsius until they test clean with a skewer (around 18-20 minutes).

Cool cupcakes completely on a wire rack before adding toppings.

Creme Patissiere (probably best you make this bit first, actually):
1 cup milk
1 vanilla bean, split
3 egg yolks
85g caster sugar
25g cornflour
Single (pouring) cream, whipped to firm peaks
Modus Operandi
Scald milk with vanilla bean (ie bring it juuuust to the boil, then remove from heat).

Beat egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together until thick and pale. The mixture should form a "ribbon" when you lift the beaters, like this:

Pour in milk, whisking constantly. Whisk until smooth. In a clean saucepan, stir mixture over heat until it has thickened and come to a boil. Return to the mixing bowl and beat it hard for one minute. Sieve the mixture to remove any lumps (and also the vanilla bean). Refrigerate creme patissiere with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface to prevent a skin forming. Once it is cold, fold in sufficient whipped cream to achieve your desired texture (I used a 2:1 creme patissiere to cream volume ratio. For filling eclairs etc I usually use less cream than this, but for topping a cupcake I feel a lighter consistency is called for). Pipe or spoon onto cupcakes in place of frosting.
Raspberry Coulis
Blitz 250g fresh or frozen raspberries with 1/4 cup caster sugar, the juice of a lemon and a tablespoon of brandy. Sieve to remove seeds. Note: This will make waaaaay more coulis than you need for these cupcakes. I am quite certain that you will not find this a hardship. Feel free to make less if you have strange ideas like not wanting leftover raspberry coulis.

Immediately before serving cupcakes (or even at the table), spoon a little coulis over the top. Eat as soon as possible!
These are a bit messy to eat, but very yummy, and the creme patissiere (which is just heavenly) makes a nice change from frosting, especially when you're the sort of person who tends to bring cupcakes to everything. Which makes me happy, because "something a bit different" is what I was hoping for.
Mission accomplished, I think.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Don't Mess With The Love-Goddess...

It's Cupcake Hero time again! This time, last month's winner Amy has chosen the theme - and it's Raspberry! I was very excited about this, as I LOVE raspberries (my only gripe with them is that I can't get them fresh this time of year, and that when I can, they're like $8 for a small punnet. Grrr. Still - that's what the miracle of frozen goods is for, right?)

Anyhow, I couldn't get out of my head a piece of interesting information I recently discovered... It turns out raspberries are in the same family as roses! So naturally I was rather keen to try them out as a flavour combination. Finally, as both raspberries and roses are traditionally considered aphrodisiacs, I thought I'd throw a third love-drug (chocolate) in and call these

Aphrodite Cupcakes

Named, obviously, after the Greek Goddess of beauty and love. A decadently rich chocolate cupcake studded with tart juicy berries, topped with a silky rose buttercream and with vanilla foam clinging to its shapely curves - what's not to love?

(and yes, this is what Cupcake Hero has driven me to - art directing cupcakes in The Muffin's sandpit, on account of Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" painting - Aphrodite (or Venus, if one subscribes to the Roman view of things) having been "born" from sea-foam and borne to the shore on a scallop shell).

My first attempt at these were a disaster. They looked okay, but tasted extremely ordinary. I had decided to be clever and mess about with a vanilla cupcake recipe to change it into a rich chocolate one, as I thought the berries would sink to the bottom in my usual (rather runny) chocolate mixture. I also decided to drastically change my buttercream in an attempt to make it lighter and airier. The result was a beautiful-looking but dry and not-very-chocolatey cupcake, and buttercream that was way too sweet with a very strange texture. Unfortunately, they were the cupcakes I took to a family party. Sorry, relatives! Annoyed, I chucked those recipes and came up with this one, which involves less drastic changes to both my usual chocolate cake and buttercream.
My advice? When dealing with the Goddess of Love, don't muck her around!!
Enough prattle - here's the recipe.
110g butter
110g dark chocolate
80 mL water
2 eggs
65g plain flour
65g self raising flour
25g cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
240g caster sugar
20 mL oil
60 mL milk
1/2 tsp lemon juice
100g frozen (or fresh if you can get them!) raspberries
Modus Operandi
Pick out the 12-18 best looking raspberries and set aside for the garnish. Melt butter and chocolate with water in a saucepan, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir in sugar. Mix eggs and oil together, and while chocolate mixture is still warm but not hot, add egg mixture to it, stirring vigorously until all combined and smooth. The mixture will have thickened due to the eggs becoming partially cooked in the warm chocolate (if your chocolate mixture has gone cold, it won't thicken. This doesn't really matter, but I find it easier to deal with if it's not so runny. Also your raspberries might sink). Add the chocolate mixture, milk and lemon juice to the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Spoon into cupcake cases and push 2 or 3 raspberries into the centre of each cupcake.
This method of adding the raspberries does mean your cupcakes will not have a rounded dome - they'll rise around the berries, creating a dent in the top. If this is an issue for you, just half-fill the cases, add the berries, then cover them with more mixture. That way you'll get a dome. But for this recipe, I feel the first method works, firstly because there's something rather sexy about having the raspberries peeking out of their chocolate bed at you, and secondly it gives the foam somewhere to sit, rather than running down the side of the wrapper.
Besides, how awesome does this look in the oven??

Bake cupcakes at 160 degrees Celsius until they test cleanish with a toothpick (around 15 to 18 minutes). When cool, top with rose buttercream, raspberry, and vanilla foam (in that order). The foam must be put on immediately before serving.

Rose Buttercream
Cream 125g unsalted butter with 110g icing sugar. When very pale and fluffy, add 1 drop pink food colouring, 30 mL milk, and rosewater essence to taste. Note: generally I would say go easy on the rosewater essence, as noone likes to feel they've just licked an air freshener. However, for this recipe I would advise using just a little more rose flavour than you'd normally like, as the rich chocolate cupcake drowns it out a bit. So when tasting your buttercream, I would advise you find your happy place rose-flavour-wise, and then add another two drops. Pipe slightly off-centre mounds onto cupcakes.
Vanilla Foam
Add a little vanilla extract to some milk, and froth using whatever method you would for a cappuccino. Spoon a teaspoonful onto each cupcake just before serving.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...