Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cupcakes with Pearls

Last week work asked me to pick up cookies during lunch to take to a meeting, this week they put me in charge of desserts for the department social. Life is good.

My original task was to grill some desserts. I found a bunch of recipes, but was lacking time and energy, so I defaulted to cupcakes. Don't you default to homemade cupcakes when you are running low on time and sleep? I love vanilla beans, so I added vanilla bean seeds to a basic white cupcake batter. For the frosting, you need the best, so I chose a Swiss meringue buttercream adapted from Ina Garden. Ina knows her stuff, but man does every baking recipe of hers make a lot. I reduced the recipe by one third. Needless to say, that extra third could easily have been consumed by Christine. I on the other hand need a sleeping pill after all that sugar.

The recipe makes 3 dozen cupcakes, and can easily be reduced, but why would you want to? I hope this is enough for work tomorrow.

Lined up and awaiting their pearls.

Another up close and personal shot of these cuties.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
adapted from Curious Cupcakes

6 large egg whites*
1 1/2 cup milk**
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
18 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350F

Fill one 12-hole cupcake tray with cupcake liners, but you will need three total.

In a medium bowl, combine egg whites, vanilla and 1/2 cup milk.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake flour, sugar, vanilla bean seeds, baking powder and salt and mix together to blend. Add the butter and remaining 1 cup of milk. Mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed for 1.5 minutes. It will look like decadent ribbons of paper white lava being beaten around in the bowl at this point. Then add the egg, vanilla and milk mixture in three equal parts, beating for 20 seconds between additions.

Pour the batter into prepared cupcake tray with an ice cream scoop or pastry bag. Each cupcake wrapper will be about 2/3-3/4 full. Place trays in the oven for 15-20 minutes, remove when golden yellow and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream
Adapted from Ina Garten

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup egg whites, at room temperature*
1 cups granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1/2 teaspoons water

Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan simmering water. Set aside until cooled to room temperature.

Mix the egg whites, sugar, tartar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Place the bowl of egg whites over the pan of simmering water and heat the egg whites until they are warm to the touch, about 5 minutes. No need for a thermometer, just make sure sugar is dissolved and not grainy. Return the bowl to the mixer and whisk on high speed for 5 minutes, or until the meringue is cool and holds a stiff peak.

Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, while beating on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl, add the melted chocolate, vanilla, and espresso, and mix for 1 minute or until the chocolate is completely blended in.

Chef notes:

*I intend to make
7 yoke pasta with the egg yokes left over from this recipe. You can also use them for any custard, like creme anglaise or creme brulee.

**I rarely have milk on hand, so I've been experimenting with those shelf stable milk boxes and dehydrated milk. Both produce fabulous results.

Do you dislike me for posting this? or for reducing Ina's buttercream recipe by one third?

1 comment:

  1. Yum Yum Yum! I so wish I was at the department meeting so I could have one!