Pine Nut and Candied Orange Peel Cupcakes with Christmas Spice Buttercream Frosting13

Posted by in Citrus, Experimental Recipe, Italian-Inspired, Seeds, Spices (Wednesday December 19, 2007 at 2:35 pm)

pine nut and candied orange peel cupcake with christmas spice buttercream

I will be frank. I am not a fan of pine nuts. They fell out of favor with me back in the 90’s or whenever it was that every restaurant was serving them in their dishes. They are new to my husband however and, go figure, he likes them. So, when he rushed off to be with family leaving me with a container of pine nuts that were bound to spoil, I thought, “time for pine nut cupcakes.”

The pine nut idea morphed quickly and easily into an Italian-style fruit cake concept. I started and ended with candied orange peel. I was so close to throwing in some more dried or candied fruits, but feared venturing too far into fruit cake territory. I am also not a fan of fruit cake. The resulting was interesting. Its hard for me to be objective here as the cake tasted very pine nutty and like I said… don’t like ‘em. Anyway, husband returned and he gave them his seal of approval. So, if you or someone you know likes pine nuts, give the recipe a try.

I topped them with a small amount of very spicy buttercream. I liked the buttercream very much. While sweet and intense in flavor , it definitely said “holidays” to me.

Well, the Porro family is traveling over the holidays. I will be baking cupcakes at my destination, but I am not sure if I will be posting. Never the less, you will see me back in the new year with more cupcake recipes and a follow up frosting post (hopefully with video)!

Happy New Year!

Cupcakes
~15 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3/4 cup pine nuts
1 stick butter, unsalted/room temp
1/4 light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs, large/room temp
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup candied orange peel, roughly chopped (see below)

1. Toast pine nuts at 350 for 7 minutes. Grind pine nuts with in a food processor. I removed some of the nuts (about 1/4) while they were still chunky then ground the rest up a bit more. Pine nuts are oily so they never get very fine and they will start to clump up.
2. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
3. Add the brown sugar and regular sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
4. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated.
5. Add the ground pine nuts. Beat to combine.
6. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
7. Measure out orange juice and vanilla together.
8. Add about a third of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
9. Add all of the juice/vanilla mixture and beat until combined.
10. Add another third of the flour mixture and beat to combine.
11. Add the ricotta cheese and beat to combine.
12. Add the rest of the flour and beat to combine. Mix in the orange peel.
13. Scoop into cupcake papers about three-quarters full. Note that these cupcakes will shrink slightly when they cool.
14. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Christmas Spice Buttercream

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground clove

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Sift sugar into the butter. Add vanilla and spices and beat to combine.
3. Add more powdered sugar to arrive at the consistency and sweetness you like. 2 cups worked for me.

Note: This is a very spicy buttercream. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you add half the amount of spices to start with. I liked its holiday flavor-intensity.

christmas spice mix

Assemble
1. Top cooled cupcakes with the frosting.
2. Top with a decoration, chopped orange peel, or whatever you have.

Candied Orange Peel
Why reinvent the wheel? Nic over at the Baking Sheet has already gone and posted a recipe for candied orange peel. I have used this recipe in the past and used it again this time around.

candied orange peel
tossing peel in sugar

fresh fig and almond cupcake bombe14

Posted by chockylit in Experimental Recipe, Italian-Inspired, Other Fruits, Step-by-Step Photos (Sunday July 8, 2007 at 7:46 pm)

fresh fig and almond cupcake bombe

When I got the idea for this cupcake the weather in San Francisco was uncharacteristically balmy which got me thinking of ice cream. By the time I executed on the idea we are back in the typical pattern or blanketed in the chilling marine layer. None the less, this was a fun cupcake to make, the second along the idea of a “cupcake ice cream bombe”, my first attempt being the grean tea, lavender, honey bombe I made last summer.

I got the idea to use the crushed amaretti cookies from a Martha Stewart repeat I caught last week where the owner of Baked in Brooklyn used the same in a lemon tart crust. I have been wanting to do something with figs after having eaten a basket of them and the amaretti idea sealed the deal.

The cake recipe was completely off the cuff. I am not sure how it would translate to a full size cupcake (not sure how much it would rise and how full to the fill the cupcake papers), but the end result in the sheet pan was exactly what I was looking for, very moist and very almondy. I got the gelato recipe from here and I will admit it wasn’t what I was hoping for and didn’t resemble the fresh fig gelato I so enjoyed during one past trip to Italy. That being said, the resulting gelato was fine – I could definitely taste the fig, but I guess I wanted something creamier.

I am trying the cupcake for dessert tonight, so I will update the post with the “end result” a bit later.

Update: The flavor combination is great and I am loving the frosting. Very delicious. Not as tangy as cream cheese frosting, but not as sweet as butter cream. The fig gelato definitely needs to be creamier, but otherwise I am really liking this cupcake. I want to try it again, but with a non ice cream filling – almond cupcake with a fig filling that is.

Fresh Fig Gelato

14 ounces (350 g) perfectly ripe figs
1 lemon
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Peel the figs and blend the fig pulp with the juice of one lemon.
2. Combine the milk with the sugar and stir the mixture into the figs.
3. Freeze in an ice cream machine per the manufacturer’s directions.

fresh fig gelato
fig gelato

Almond Cake
9″x13″ sheet pan / 350 degree oven

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, unsalted/room temp
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs, large/room temp
60 grams amaretti cookies
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Prepare a 9″x13″ baking sheet by lightly coating with butter, covering with parchment paper, then lightly coating the parchment with butter.
2. Beat butter on high speed until soft, about 30 seconds.
3. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
4. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 15 seconds after each.
5. Using a food processor, grind up amaretti cookies to the consistency of sand but with some chunky bits.
6. Measure out flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium sized bowl. Add the amaretti cookie and whisk to combine.
7. Measure out the milk, almond extract, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
8. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
9. Add about one third the milk mixture and beat until combined.
10. Repeat above, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture.
11. Pour onto a prepared baking sheet and smooth out.
12. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

prepped sheet pan
prepped sheet pan

amaretti
amaretti cookies

crushed amaretti
crushed cookies

almond cake made with crushed amaretti
baked cake

Mascarpone Frosting

12 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/2 stick butter
4-5 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

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 mascarpone cheese at medium speed until creamy.
4. Add 4 cups of the powdered sugar, almond extract and vanilla. Beat until combined.
5. Add more sugar until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like.

Note: This recipe makes more than enough frosting. I tend to like to make a full batch and freeze the leftovers for later (better than not having enough frosting), but you would be safe to cut the recipe in half if you are not interested in having leftovers.

Assembly
Recipe make approximately 10 cupcakes
1. Cut two rounds of cake for each cupcake that fit in the cupcake paper.
2. Put a round in each cupcake paper.
3. Fill with fig gelato leaving room for the top cake disk.
4. Place cupcakes in the freezer and chill for 1 hour.
5. Frost with mascarpone frosting and top with a decoration. Store in the freezer.

cake disks
step 1

step 1 - cake disk
step 2

step 2 - fig gelato
step 3

step 4 - cake disk
step 4

step 5 - frost
step 5

Blueberry & Raspberry Ricotta Almond Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting60

Posted by chockylit in Berries, Cheese, Italian-Inspired, Nuts (Sunday May 20, 2007 at 12:42 pm)

blueberry ricotta almond cupcake with cream cheese frosting

It was bound to happen. Can’t be pregnant, be a cupcake baker, and not make pink and blue cupcakes, right? I made these for the last day of birthing class. We have a snack break every class and it’s always filled with healthy savory treats. So, while I was bringing cupcakes, I wanted to make them relatively “healthy” (without sacrificing taste, of course).

This recipe is a slight variation from one I made a while back. I wanted to try using fresh almonds (hooray for vitamin E and “good” fat) instead of almond paste. The resulting cake was good, but not “almondy” enough. Next time around I would add a half teaspoon of almond extract. I actually really liked the grainy texture that the ground almonds added. But if this sounds unappealing to you, stick to the almond paste (or really grind the hell out of your almonds). As with the last recipe, this one turned out very moist. I could see these standing up to a few days of refrigeration.

I figured between the almonds, the berries, the eggs, the ricotta, and the cream cheese, I ended up with a fairly balanced treat. Fruits, healthy fats, protein, etc. to counter the heavy dose of sugar (yum, sugar). But to keep myself honest, I used my copy of Accuchef software to calculate the nutritional value. Scroll to the very end if you are curious, but perhaps some things are better left unknown…

On a side note, I have had to turn on comment moderation for the time being. So while it may seem like your comment has been posted, it will not show up on the blog until I approve it. This will hopefully be temporary. If anyone has any questions about this, feel free to email me directly.

Cupcakes
~15 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

4 ounces almonds, slivered/peeled
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 stick butter, unsalted/room temp
4 eggs, large/room temp
2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blueberries

1. Grind almonds with 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor until very fine. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer.
2. Gradually add the remaining 1 cup of sugar to the ground almonds while beating at low speed.
3. Add the ricotta and beat to combine.
4. While beating at low speed, add a tablespoon of butter at a time, waiting for the butter to incorporate until adding the next pat. The butter must be at room temperature or it will not incorporate well.
5. Stop the mixer, scrape the bowl, then beat at medium for about 2 minutes.
6. Crack eggs into a bowl and break up with a fork. At low speed gradually add eggs about a tablespoon at a time, waiting for the eggs to incorporate until adding the next bit.
7. Beat again at medium speed for about 2 minutes.
8. Measure out flour, salt, and baking powder into a bowl and whisk to combine.
9. With a rubber spatula, fold flour mixture into the cake batter until combined.
10. Wash and dry the berries. Toss with a small amount of flour. This will help keep the berries from sinking.
11. Fold berries into the batter.
12. Scoop batter into cupcake liners, about 2/3s full.
13. Bake at 350 for about ~25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean

Note: I wanted “pink” and “blue” cupcakes so I divided the batter in two and added blueberries to one and raspberries to the other. You could do this, mix the berries, or even use different fruit.

blueberry ricotta almond cupcakes cooling
cooling cupcakes

Cream Cheese Frosting

12 ounces or 1-1/2 packages of Philly cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
4-5 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

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 4 cups of the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until combined.
5. Add more sugar until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like.

Assembly
1. Frost cupcakes.
2. Top with a candy decoration, berries, or slivered almonds.

Note: I kneaded store-bought white fondant with gel food coloring, rolled out with a little corn starch to prevent sticking, and stamped out small shapes to top the cupcakes.

blueberry & raspberry ricotta almond cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Approximate Nutritional Value per Serving

Without frosting
Per Serving: 216 Cal (50% from Fat, 9% from Protein, 41% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 12 g Tot Fat; 5 g Sat Fat; 5 g Mono Fat; 23 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 16 g Sugar; 51 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 78 mg Sodium; 84 mg Cholesterol

With frosting
Per Serving: 478 Cal (43% from Fat, 6% from Protein, 52% from Carb); 7 g Protein; 23 g Tot Fat; 12 g Sat Fat; 8 g Mono Fat; 63 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 56 g Sugar; 70 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 167 mg Sodium; 117 mg Cholesterol

Ricotta Raspberry Almond Cupcakes with Citrus Meringue Frosting11

Posted by chockylit in Berries, Cheese, Citrus, Italian-Inspired, Nuts (Sunday September 11, 2005 at 10:10 am)

I made these ricotta raspberry almond cupcakes for “ladies night”. My aunt was having a bunch of overnight guests and I wanted to make an adult-tasting dessert that matched the Italianesque meal of roasted chicken. I also wanted the cupcakes to be fun, as I knew we wouldn’t be digging into them until after many martinis.

The cupcakes were what I hoped. Moist, sweet, and subtle almond flavor, balanced with the tartness of the raspberry. The ricotta gave it moistness and heartiness that I liked. The addition of the burnt butter almonds lended a crunchy texture, but I would say that they are definitely optional. The meringue frosting had a touch of citrus and was fairly sweet. At the end of it, many of us ended up with sticky pink frosting clinging to our faces.

Cupcakes
~18 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

7 ounces almond paste (not marzipan)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 stick butter, unsalted/room temp
4 eggs, large/room temp
2/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup raspberries

1. beat almond paste at low speed to loosen up, about 30 seconds
2. gradually add sugar while beating at low speed
3. continue to beat at low speed for 1 minute or so
4. add the ricotta and beat to combine
5. while beating at low speed, add a tablespoon of butter at a time, waiting for the butter to incorporate until adding the next pat
6. stop the mixer, scrape the bowl, beat at medium for about 2 minutes until fluffy
7. crack eggs into a bowl and break up with a fork
8. at low speed gradually add eggs about a tablespoon at a time, waiting for the eggs to incorporate until adding the next bit
9. beat again at medium speed for about 2 minutes
10. measure out flour, salt, and baking powder into a bowl and whisk to combine
11. with a rubber spatula, fold flour mixture into the cake batter until combined
12. fold in raspberries
13. scoop batter into cupcake liners, fill about 1/2 inch from the top (3/4 full)
14. bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean

[optional] Burnt Butter Almonds

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 cup almond slices

1. toast almond slices on a cookie sheet in a 350 degrees oven for about 10 minutes or until brown, stir almonds around occasionally, remove from oven and let cool
2. add butter to a skillet over medium heat
3. melt butter, let foam subside
4. add brown sugar and stir to combine
5. let mixture cook for about 3-5 minutes, it should be thick and sticky looking
6. add toasted almond slices and stir to coat

Citrus Meringue Frosting

1 cup egg whites (from approximately 7-8 eggs)
2 cups sugar
3 drops orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest, finely chopped

1. combine egg whites and sugar into the mixing bowl of your stand mixer and set over a bain marie (water bath)
2. whisk by hand for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved or preferably until the mixture reaches 110 degrees fahrenheit
3. transfer bowl to electric mixer, beat on medium speed for 10 minutes
4. add orange juice, zest, and a drop of red gel food coloring
5. beat on high speed until stiff glossy peaks form, about 2 to 5 minutes more

Assembly
1. spoon some almonds onto each cooled cupcake
2. dollop a heaping tablespoon of meringue on top of that
3. using your finger pull the meringue down to cover the top of the cupcake, the frosting is very sticky and you want it to basically attach itself to the cupcake liner
4. using your finger poke the top of frosting to make a nice shape and some interesting peaks
5. using a blow torch, brown the meringue.

If I was feeling especially ambitious, which I wasn’t because I was out all day and got home kind of late, I would have made homemade almond paste and homemade ricotta cheese. I would expect that substituting homemade ingredients would provide a more delicate outcome.