Pomegranate Green Tea Cupcakes14

Posted by chockylit in Experimental Recipe, Green Tea (Monday November 16, 2009 at 6:21 pm)

Pomegranate Green Tea Cupcakes

Two super foods in one tasty cupcake? Why not. In this creation the green tea actually takes a back seat to the pomegranate whose tart flavor takes center stage. I revisited an earlier green tea cupcake recipe and mixed in some pomegranate seeds at the end. But where the pomegranate flavor really shines is in the frosting (and the many pomegranates I topped each cupcake with)…

I wanted to celebrate the pomegranate’s tartness and ended up with what I will describe as a pomegranate foam. The texture may be off-putting to some, but the end result was indeed a not-overly-sweet, tart “frosting” as envisioned.

Covering the whole cupcake with seeds had its pros and cons. On the good side, it covers up the frosting which isn’t so pleasing to the eye and makes for a gorgeous cupcake. On the not-so-good side, pomegranate seeds in abundance are odd from a texture standpoint, but you could take a cue from my daughter and pick each one off and eat them before tearing into the cupcake itself.

I definitely think these cupcakes could make an awesome holiday display!

Pomegranate Green Tea Cupcakes
12 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 tablespoons green tea (matcha) powder
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add egg/egg yolk one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and matcha in a bowl.
5. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
6. Fold in pomegranate seeds.
7. Scoop into cupcake cups about 2/3s full. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Note: Normally I would get fresh, whole pomegranates and deal with the messiness of removing the seeds. Recently both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s started carrying fresh pomegranate seeds. I find them to be reliable sources of pomegranate seeds and recommend that route when you need them in bulk.

Pomegranate Seeds

Pomegranate Foam

1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon sugar (plus more to taste)
3 egg whites

1. Heat pomegranate juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture is boiling. Reduce to a simmer.
2. Simmer mixture until its reduced by half about 5-8 minutes.
3. Beat egg whites in the bowl of your electric mixer with the whisk attachment until foamy, about 3 minutes.
4. Slowly pour the very hot, reduced pomegranate juice into the egg whites while whisking at medium speed.
5. Continue to beat on medium-high speed until the mixture cools, about 5 to 10 minutes more.

One cupcake was consumed in the taking of these pictures

Assembly
1. Top each cooled cupcake with pomegranate foam. A pastry bag with a large tip simplifies this.
2. Cover each frosted cupcake with pomegranate seeds. The more the merrier.

Pomegranate Green Tea Cupcakes

Bacon Cupcakes Two Ways17

Posted by chockylit in Bacon, Chocolate, Corn, Experimental Recipe, Maple (Thursday October 1, 2009 at 1:35 pm)

chocolate, toffee, bacon cupcake

I have tried my hand at bacon cupcakes before and some of my coworkers were huge fans. I was planning some celebratory cupcakes for work and I decided on bringing back the bacon. I was tentative with my inclusion of bacon last time around and I was looking for a chance to push it a bit more.

The frosting is subtle enough that it works on both cupcakes. But to be frank, if I do the sweet corn version again, I want to find a way to nicely push the maple flavor. I am thinking maple candy chunks in the frosting. The sweet corn version is great though. The corn was super juicy and the bacon flavor just enough. I also really liked the chocolate version. It’s hard to go wrong with chocolate and toffee anyway, but the salty, smokiness of the bacon took it to another level.

Sweet Corn and Bacon Cupcakes
~24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1-1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup grape seed oil (or any tasteless vegetable oil)
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon maple syrup
5 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 cup corn kernels, fresh, cut off the cob
4 slices cooked bacon cut into chunks

1. Sift flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. In a medium bowl, combine oil, egg yolks, water, and maple syrup. Stir to combine.
3. On a low setting, start to beat the dry mixture and slowly add the wet. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until ingredients are incorporated.
4. Transfer mixture to another bowl. Wash and dry mixer bowl.
5. Whip egg whites with whip attachment on medium-high speed until foamy. With the mixer on medium speed, add cream of tarter and slowly add sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
6. Scoop a cupful of the stiff egg whites into the batter and stir to combine. This will lighten up the batter.
7. Transfer the batter to the egg whites and gently fold until there are no more streaks of egg white.
8. Gently fold in the corn kernels and bacon.
9. Scoop into cupcake cups about 2/3’s full. Bake at 350 F for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

corn

Bacon, Toffee, Chocolate Cupcakes
~20 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup high quality unsweetened cocoa powder like Valrhona brand
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-1/2 slices cooked bacon cut into chunks
1/3 cup chopped chocolate covered toffee, Poco Dolce or other brand

1. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
2 Add egg and beat until well combined.
3. Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a small sized bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine
5. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
6. Gently fold in the bacon and toffee chunks.
7. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 1/2-2/3’s full. Bake cupcakes for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

yum, bacon

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

2-1/2 packages of Philly cream cheese
1 stick butter
5-8 cups sifted powdered sugar
~1/4 cup maple syrup

1. Bring butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours.
2. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto parchment.
3. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
4. Add 3 cups of the powdered sugar and maple syrup. Beat until combined.
5. Add more maple syrup and confectioners sugar until you get to the flavor, consistency, and sweetness you like.

sweet corn, maple, bacon cupcake

Assemble
1. Frost cooled cupcakes.
2. Top with a piece of maple sugar candy or crispy bacon.

3 Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Sea Salt36

Posted by in Simple Recipe, Step-by-Step Photos, Vanilla (Saturday April 19, 2008 at 8:33 pm)

3 vanilla cupcakes with vanilla sea salt

One of my most favorite places to discover unique ingredients and find inspiration for my latest creation is Boulettes Larder. My recent visit turned up the very special sea salt used to garnish these cupcakes and a very delicious pasta dish that was well worth the 18 dollar Tuesday lunch splurge.

The vanilla cupcake recipe is a make-up for my bookkeeping mishap of this post. It’s close to the same recipe, slightly altered and I amped it up with more vanilla. The recipe contains vanilla in 3 forms – vanilla extract, vanilla sugar, and vanilla bean. Why 3 forms? Why not.

As you may recall, I did a side by side comparison of Martha’s and Amy’s vanilla cupcakes for this post. The end results of these two recipes are two very different vanilla cupcakes. One tastes better and has a more delicate texture (Amy’s) but is more difficult to execute. The other is fail safe, but dense and not as tasty.

I am looking to come up somewhere in the middle, but leaning towards the tasty/delicate end of the spectrum. I have also tested Magnolia’s recipe and Claire Crespo’s vanilla cupcake recipe. Based on my recollection and comparison of the recipes, Martha’s is the most dense/fail proof, Magnolia’s comes next (note: Billy’s is pretty much the same as Magnolia’s minus a few tweaks), then Claire’s, then Amy’s.

I, of course, am trying to come up with my own version… My goal is to be as close to the texture & taste of Amy’s, but without the execution challenges. So, the recipe below is probably the second or third try and I still have some work. This version is probably between Magnolia’s and Claire’s, but I want to be somewhere between Claire’s and Amy’s. Whew… That was likely confusing.

The vanilla sea salt is a nice touch. If you can’t find it, just find some high quality sea salt, and mix it with some vanilla bean seeds. The Chef at Boulettes gave me the low down as to where this salt came from – Anglesey, Wales – and how its made. Its made by a family on the beach by evaporating sea water in stainless steel vats. The sea salt is then stored with Tahitian vanilla bean in clay pots. Sounds nice…

vanilla sea salt
vanilla sea salt

Vanilla Sugar

1 vanilla bean, split
1 pound sugar

1. Split the vanilla bean but don’t scrape out the seeds. Put it with the sugar in an airtight container. Store in a cupboard for around 5 days or more. Shake it up once in a while.

splitting vanilla bean
splitting the bean

3 Vanilla Cupcakes
20 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3/4 cup (1-1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-2/3 cups vanilla sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2-2/3 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

1. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
3. Measure the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine.
5. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
6. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 2/3’s full. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake cupcakes for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

scraping vanilla seeds
scraping the seeds

Vanilla Bean Frosting

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 package (8 ounces) philly cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
-4-5 cups powdered sugar

1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy.
2. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.
3. Add the vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and 3 cups of powdered sugar and beat at low speed, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar to arrive at the consistency and sweetness you like.

Assemble
1. Frost each cooled cupcake with a healthy mound of frosting.
2. Top with vanilla seat salt or whatever you so desire.

filling frosting bag
filling the bag

frosting
frosting the cupcakes

I should mention… You should actually save the vanilla beans you scrape the beans out of and also use those to make vanilla sugar or reuse in some way as there is likely a lot of life left in them. Reminded by this post

Wasabi White Chocolate Cupcakes with Plum Sake Filling40

wasabi white chocolate cupcakes with plum sake filling

I have had wasabi in a cupcake before, but with dark chocolate. When I saw the white chocolate and wasabi combination on episode 4 of Top Chef, I figured… why not?

I knew I wanted to do a fruity filling and after some pondering, plums came to mind. I thought the tartness of the plums would balance the sweetness of the white chocolate. I also liked that the plums would carry through the Japanese theme.

These cupcakes sound a bit crazier than they taste. The most dominant flavor is that of the filling. The tartness of the plums and the hit from the sake show through the most. I really liked the filling by itself. Even just pairing the filling with a simple vanilla cake would be delicious.

The cake has a nice, firm but moist texture that went well with the filling. However, its flavors were a bit lost. I wasn’t getting white chocolate and wasabi in any direct way, but there was definitely something going on there beyond a simple cake. It’s just a challenge to pinpoint it.

I topped the cupcake with a simple white chocolate frosting that is delicious and one of my new favorites. I considered putting some wasabi in the frosting, but didn’t want to overwhelm my tasters. If you are feeling adventurous, give it a try!

I had come up with the idea for the cupcake and then went away on a little mini-vacation. I was shopping at the local grocery store and strangely enough they had both wasabi and plum sesame seeds. I just had to buy them and use them to decorate the cupcakes. I really stumbled upon them and am not sure where anyone could pick them up other than the Surf Supermarket in Gualala, California.

Wasabi White Chocolate Cupcakes
~28 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

7 ounces white chocolate
3/4 cups (1-1/2 sticks) butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 eggs
1-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons wasabi paste

1. Chop chocolate and transfer into the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. Add butter to the chocolate and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate melts and butter is combined.
3. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Note that when you add the sugar the mixture will separate and look pretty funky. This is ok.
4. Let mixture cool for 10 minutes.
5. Add the vanilla. Beat in an electric mixer for 3 minutes. Mixture will thicken and you should no longer see butter floating on the top.
6. Add one egg at a time, mixing for 10 seconds between each.
7. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into the mixture, return to the electric mixer, and mix until blended.
8. Add wasabi paste and mix until blended.
9. Scoop into cupcake cups 2/3s full and transfer to a 350 F oven. Bake for ~22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Note: The tops of the cupcakes will have an odd looking texture (as reported the last time I made them). It’s ok, it will get covered with frosting…

plum sake filling
filled cupcakes

Plum Sake Filling

4 plums
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sake
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch

1. Pit and chop the plums to a small dice. Leave the peel on, it gives a nice color.
2. Heat water and plums over medium-high heat until boiling.
3. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking, stirring regularly until plums are soft, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the sake a tablespoon at a time tasting after each addition. You want to taste the sake, but not have the alcohol be too prominent.
6. Mix sugar and cornstarch together. Add to the plum mixture and stir to combine. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar just to the point when the mixture starts to taste sweet.
7. Transfer to a heat proof bowl. Let sit at room temperature until cool. If making in advance, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

White Chocolate Frosting

7 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 package (8 ounces) philly cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
~2 cups powdered sugar

1. In a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water, gently melt the white chocolate. Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.
2. Beat in the melted white chocolate.
3. Add the vanilla and 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat at low speed, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar to arrive at the consistency and sweetness you like. 2 cups worked for me.

filling cupcakes
filling the cupcakes

Assemble
1. Fill the cupcakes with the plum filling using the cone method.
2. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Sweet & Salty Honey Peanut Cupcakes36

Posted by in Cheese, Experimental Recipe, Honey (Tuesday March 18, 2008 at 8:59 am)

Sweet & Salty Honey Peanut Cupcakes

My neighbor is a bee keeper. Mostly she keeps bees in a more lush area of the city, but she also has some hives in her backyard. She dropped off some of her backyard honey the other day. I just had to make some cupcakes with it! This creation consists of honey chiffon cake, layered with some salty peanuts, and then topped with a honey cream cheese frosting.

I had some challenges with the cake and wasn’t able to experiment enough with it to get it to my high standards. The posted recipe is just shy of what I would deem acceptable, but the frosting is a definite winner.

I have had some people ask me, “How do I do it?” what with a demanding full-time job, a baby, the blog… Well, I don’t really do it… not like I used to, anyway. It’s definitely a lot harder to devote the time required to get a great post together given that they often involve recipe development of some sort. I am exploring other content ideas to help bridge the gap between posts, but I don’t want to just link or refer to other existing content on the web – there are already plenty of blogs doing just that and doing it well. So, we shall see. In the meanwhile, explore the archives if you haven’t had a chance.

I am planning on baking next for the first ever meet-up of the Bay Area Cupcakes Take the Cake group. My inspiration for my next creation is color and the plan is to pair chocolate and fruit in a few different combinations… Join us if you are from the area!

Honey Peanut Cupcakes
~9 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

2 tablespoons peanuts, unsalted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup + 1 tablespoon flour (cake if you have it, otherwise all-purpose)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons grape seed oil or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons whole milk
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup thick honey
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/4 cup sugar

1. Chop peanuts together with the salt and set aside. If you can’t find unsalted peanuts use the salted but only add a pinch of additional salt. Taste the chopped nuts and make sure they are salty.
2. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder into the bowl of a standing mixer.
3. In a medium bowl, combine oil, milk, egg yolks, and honey. Stir to combine.
4. On a low setting, start to beat the dry mixture and slowly add the wet. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until incorporated.
5. Transfer mixture to another bowl. Wash and dry mixer bowl.
6. Whip egg whites with whip attachment on medium-high speed until foamy. With the mixer on medium speed, add cream of tarter and slowly add sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
7. Scoop a cupful of the stiff egg whites into the batter and stir to combine. This should lighten up the batter.
8. Transfer the batter to the egg whites and gently fold until there are no more streaks of egg white.
9. Fill cupcake cups about 1/3 full. The sprinkle peanut/salt mixture over top. Fill with batter up to 2/3s full and bake at 350 F for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Sweet & Salty Honey Peanut Cupcakes
layering in some peanuts

Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces or 1/2 package of Philly cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons thick honey

1. Bring butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours.
2. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto parchment.
3. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
4. Add 1 cup of the powdered sugar and the honey. Beat until combined.
5. Add more sugar until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like.

Note: The honey I used in both recipes was very thick, meaning it was not pourable unless I warmed it in a water bath first. This works great for the frosting as it keeps it thick. Note that if you use pourable honey the texture of both recipes may change slightly!

Assemble
1. Frost.
2. Topped with chopped, salted peanuts.

Walnut Cupcakes Topped with Rose White Chocolate Mousse and Baklava25

*** Where is chockylit? ***

Walnut Cupcakes Topped with Rose White Chocolate Mousse and Baklava

Having a seemingly insatiable sweet tooth, baklava, the sticky-sweet treat of layers of buttery phyllo dough, nuts, and honey syrup, has always appealed to me. None the less, I don’t have it too often as my run-ins with baklava are often of the unfortunate “guess how long I have been sitting in this plastic case” variety. Despite its questionable quality, I was tempted to buy some on a recent weeknight fly-by of GFC, a local Mediterranean “fast food” restaurant, to pick up dinner. I thought the better of it and decided to go the cupcake route giving me the excuse and chance to bake up some homemade baklava, which when you buy frozen phyllo dough, looked pretty darn easy to do.

Making the baklava wasn’t hard but it was time consuming. I didn’t mind so much, because boy did it turn out tasty. I was also very happy with the rose petal white chocolate mousse. I went easy on the rose, there is just a hint of it, and the mousse was definitely not too sweet and had a nice texture. Not quite as air-bubbly as a typical dark chocolate mousse, but nice texture just the same. Either two of these components stands well on their own.

I was pleased with the end result. The walnut cake soft and nutty, the mousse cooling with a hint of exotic flavor, and the baklava spicy, syrupy, and crunchy. Definitely a stretch as far as calling it a cupcake, I will admit, but an interesting dessert none the less.

Rose White Chocolate Mousse

5 ounces white chocolate
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
3 egg whites
1/4 cup rose simple syrup
couple drops of red or pink food coloring (optional)

1. Chop the chocolate and set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment set to medium-high speed, beat the egg yolks and sugar until light yellow, about 2 minutes.
3. Place the bowl of egg yolks and sugar over a pan of simmering water. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until thick, about 2 minutes.
4. Take the egg yolk mixture off the heat and add the chopped white chocolate. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until chocolate is melted and combined. Add the butter and incorporate. Set aside. Note: This mixture will be very thick.
5. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment set to medium-high speed, beat the cream until very stiff. Transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside. Wash and dry the bowl and whisk.
6. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment set to medium-high speed, start beating the egg whites. Heat the rose simple syrup in a small saucepan to soft ball stage (about 235 degrees on a candy thermometer). Gently pour the hot syrup into the egg whites as the mixer is running at low speed. Increase speed to high and beat until the egg whites are stiff.
7. Stir in about 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten. 8. Fold the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Then fold in the whipped cream. Fold in food coloring if desired.
9. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.

Note: You can use purchase rose simple syrup (as I did) or make your own by boiling equal parts water and sugar with a couple drops of rose extract.

rose petal white chocolate mousse
mousse

Walnut Cupcakes
~20 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1-1/2 cups flour (cake if you have it, otherwise all-purpose)
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup grape seed oil or vegetable oil
4 egg yolks (approximately 3 ounces)
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup walnut butter
5 egg whites (approximately 5 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup coarsely ground walnuts

1. Sift flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. In a medium bowl, combine oil, egg yolks, water, and walnut butter. Stir to combine.
3. On a low setting, start to beat the dry mixture and slowly add the wet. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until incorporated.
4. Transfer mixture to another bowl. Wash and dry mixer bowl.
5. Whip egg whites with whip attachment on medium-high speed until foamy. With the mixer on medium speed, add cream of tarter and slowly add sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
6. Scoop about a third of the stiff egg whites into the batter and stir to combine. This should lighten up the batter.
7. Transfer the batter to the egg whites and gently fold until there are no more streaks of egg white. Fold in the ground walnuts.
8. Scoop into cupcake cups just less than 1/2 full (so there is room for mousse) and bake at 350 F for 22-25 minutes until the tops are golden brown.

Note: You can use prepared walnut butter (as I did) or grind walnuts in a food processor until they become a paste. You can add a small amount of some mild oil to help it along.

Honey Syrup from Epicurious.com

1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup honey
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
4 whole cloves (optional)

1. In a small pan, stir the sugar, water, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks, and cloves over low heat until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes.
2. Stop stirring, increase the heat to medium, and cook until the mixture is slightly syrupy, about 5 minutes (about 225 degrees on a candy thermometer).
3. Discard the cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Let cool. The remaining will be used in the next recipe.

honey syrup
honey syrup

Baklava Disks from Epicurious.com
~20 disks / 350 degree oven

1/2 pound walnuts, finely chopped or coarsely ground
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or cardamom
1/2 pound (about 12 sheets) phyllo dough
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter

1. Mix together walnuts, sugar, and spices in a medium sized bowl.
2. Roll out 12 phyllo sheets. Place a sheet of phyllo onto a clean, flat surface. Brush with butter.
3. Repeat with 5 more sheets, buttering between each.
4. Spread the filling over the buttered phyllo.
5. Top with 6 more sheets, buttering between each.
6. Using a circular cookie cutter close to the size of the opening of your cupcake papers, cut as many phyllo disks as you have cupcakes. Using a spatula, transfer to a silpat covered or greased sheet pan.
7. Just before baking, lightly sprinkle the top of the pastry with cold water. This inhibits the pastry from curling.
8. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake until golden brown, about 15 additional minutes.
9. Drizzle the cooled syrup slowly over the hot baklava and let cool for at least 2 hours.

Note: I ended up making by Baklava too thick. I did three layers of eight sheets with two layers of filling. I ended up leaving behind the bottom layer when transferring onto the cupcakes (and saved the bottoms to nibble on). I adjusted the recipe to make a thinner Baklava.

baklava filling
filling

Assemble
1. Pipe the mousse layer just to the top of the cupcake paper.
2. Top with the Baklava disks.
3. Decorate with a dollop of mousse and a walnut.

buttering phyllo
buttering phyllo

scattering filling
spreading filling

stamping out disks
stamping out disks

baked baklava
baked baklava

Lemon Cupcakes with Bitters, Sorrel, and Toasted Meringue25

Posted by in Citrus, Drink-Inspired, Experimental Recipe, Herbs & Flowers (Sunday January 6, 2008 at 3:59 pm)

Lemon Cupcakes with Bitters, Sorrel, and Toasted Meringue

January and citrus are a natural pair when it comes to me and cupcakes. As is typical, I ate too much chocolate and too many sweets over the holidays and really had to dig deep to find the motivation to even think of baking. But dig deep I did… Well, actually, I perused the latest issue of Imbibe (I will admit I have a recipe and photo featured in an article about cooking with tea) and stumbled on many a drink recipe that provided just the inspiration I needed.

I settled quickly on bitters as a way to counteract my overindulgence in sweets. I love bitters. Likely because I love(d) to drink Manhattans. This combination came from a couple different drink recipes (both by Lance J. Mayhew of Meriwether’s in Portland, Oregon). The bitterness and tartness of bitters and lemon appealed to my post-holiday’s sensibilities. I decided on a lemon chiffon cake to keep it light and meringue for the same reason. The end result is a pillow of sweet/bitter/tartness that is quite sophisticated (especially for a cupcake). This recipe likely won’t be for everyone and I will be interested to see how they go over at work tomorrow. I was pleased with the experience though.

Lemon Cupcakes
~20 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1-1/2 cups flour (cake if you have it, otherwise all-purpose)
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup grape seed oil or vegetable oil
4 egg yolks (approximately 3 ounces)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract, all natural
grated rind from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon bitters
5 egg whites (approximately 5 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/4 cup sugar

1. Sift flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. In a medium bowl, combine oil, egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon extract, lemon rind, and bitters. Stir to combine.
3. On a low setting, start to beat the dry mixture and slowly add the wet. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until incorporated.
4. Transfer mixture to another bowl. Wash and dry mixer bowl.
5. Whip egg whites with whip attachment on medium-high speed until foamy. With the mixer on medium speed, add cream of tarter and slowly add sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
6. Scoop a cupful of the stiff egg whites into the batter and stir to combine. This should lighten up the batter.
7. Transfer the batter to the egg whites and gently fold until there are no more streaks of egg white.
8. Scoop into cupcake cups about 2/3s full and bake at 350 F for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

batter & egg whites
step 6

lemon cupcakes with bitters
baked cupcakes

Sorrel Simple Syrup

1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon chopped Sorrel

1. Add sugar and water to a small saucepan set over medium high heat.
2. Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until fairly thick, about 2 minutes
3. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in Sorrel and set aside to cool.

Sorrel Meringue Frosting

1/2 cup sugar
3 egg whites
Sorrel simple syrup
Splash of Bitters

1. Whisk the egg whites and sugar over a water bath in the standing mixer bowl until it reaches a temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. This only takes only a few of minutes.
2. Transfer to standing mixer and whisk using whisk attachment at high speed until soft peaks form.
3. With the mixer on medium speed, drizzle sorrel syrup into the mixer. Splash in a bit of bitters. Beat on high until stiff peaks form.

bitters
bitters

Assemble
1. Pipe meringue frosting.
2. Toast with a culinary or blow torch.

piping meringue

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