chocolate cupcake stuffed with ginger caramel, frosted with mango ganache, and topped with a mango-Ginger won ton110

Posted by chockylit in Asian-Inspired, Chocolate, Experimental Recipe, Step-by-Step Photos, Tropical Fruits (Tuesday June 12, 2007 at 4:18 pm)

chocolate cupcake stuffed with ginger caramel, frosted with mango ganache, and topped with a mango-ginger won ton

The impetus for the recipe was that I wanted to approach the challenge of creating a fruity chocolate ganache frosting. The remainder of the components just fell in place. For a first try, I would say the frosting was fine. I could taste the mango and of course the chocolate, but the mango was subtle. There was also the issue of the texture, not bad but definitely unexpected for a ganache which is normally very smooth. I contemplated beating the ganache in an electric mixer and possibly adding some powdered sugar to smooth it out, but didn’t want to dull the taste further. If I had managed to get some mango liquor on the other hand, I would have definitely beat the cooled ganache with a cup or two of sifted powdered sugar and added liquor to taste. Maybe next time…

As for the end result, I used my favorite rich, chocolately cupcake base so I was off to a good start. The caramel and frosting tasted great together, but all in all I would say the flavors were a bit too subtle. I would pump up the ginger in the caramel, likely with fresh, chopped ginger, and pump up the frosting as I described above. I think this cupcake is definitely worth another take.

On a side note, my next post may be a bit slow to come. I gave birth to my first child this past weekend a couple weeks on the early side (but full term and quite healthy). Naomi and I have some work to do over the next couple weeks, but once things settle I hope to be back at it and newly inspired. Thanks for all your well wishes!

Naomi Porro
Naomi Porro, Born June 8th, 2007

Cupcakes
~15 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

100 grams Valrhona 61% cacao (or any bittersweet chocolate)
1-1/2 sticks butter
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon fleur de sel or any salt

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. Let mixture cool for 10 minutes.
4. Beat in an electric mixer for 3 minutes.
5. Add one egg at a time, mixing for 15 seconds between each
6. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into the mixture, return to the electric mixer, and mix until blended.
7. Scoop into cupcake cups and bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Ginger Caramel

2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or any salt
1 teaspoon ginger powder

1. Combine the water, sugar, and the corn syrup in a deep saucepan and cook over medium heat.
2. Stir together with a wooden spoon until the sugar is incorporated.
3. Cover the saucepan and let it cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
4. After 3 minutes, remove the lid, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.
5. Do not stir from this point on, but it is important to carefully shake the pan so that one area of the caramel doesn’t burn.
6. Continue to cook until the caramel turns an even amber color then remove from the heat and let stand for about 30 seconds.
7. *** This is the dangerous part *** Pour the heavy cream into the mixture. Wear oven mitts, stand away from the pan, and be careful. The mixture will bubble up significantly.
8. Stir the mixture, again being careful. Add the butter, lemon juice, salt, and ginger powder. Stir until combined.
9. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool.

cupcake filled with ginger caramel
giner caramel filling

Mango Chocolate Ganache

meat from 1 mango
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate like Valrhona 61% cocao
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or any salt

1. Puree mango meat in a blender or food processer. You should end up with around a half a cup.
2. Chop chocolate and transfer into a heat proof bowl.
3. Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate.
4. Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.
5. Add vanilla, mango, and salt. Stir until combined.
6. Let cool to room temperature.

Note: The texture of this frosting isn’t as smooth as regular ganache due to the pureed mango. But it tastes great and looks fine. I was also planning on adding mango liquor to taste, but couldn’t find any locally. If you do happen to come across some, I think it would be a great addition as the mango flavor is otherwise mild.

Mango Ginger Won Tons

spring roll or wonton wrappers, thawed if frozen
1 mango
1 tablespoon fresh chopped ginger
1 egg, beaten to blend
grapeseed oil for frying, or other vegetable oil

1. Trim the wrappers into 2″ squares.
2. Chop the mango into a small dice. The meat from a half of a mango will likely be enough, but the leftover mango-ginger mix makes a great topper for salmon.
3. Chop the ginger into a fine dice. Mix mango and ginger together.
4. Lay out your cut wrappers so they face you in a diamond shape.
5. Using a pastry brush, brush egg along the top edges of the wrappers.
6. Spoon a small amount of mango and ginger into each wrapper.
7. Fold the bottom pointed corner of the wrapper up over fruit and press to seal. You will end up with little triangles.
8. Fill the bottom of a heavy pan with 1/2 inch of oil. Heat the oil to between 360°F and 375°F. 9. Working in batches, add spring rolls to hot oil and cook until golden and crisp. About 30 seconds per side. 10. Using slotted spoon, transfer spring rolls to paper towels to drain. Set aside to cool fully.

Note: I happened to have purchased 4″ wrappers, but they come in many sizes. I cut the wrappers with kitchen shears into 2″ squares. This proved to be a good size for cupcake decorating.

brushing egg on wrapper
brushing egg on wrapper

stuffing won ton
stuffing wrapper

folding won ton
sealing wrapper

Assembly
1. Using a small pairing knife, cut off the top of the cupcake in the shape of a cone. Flip the top over and cut off the cone.
2. Fill the cavity with caramel.
3. Replace the top of the cone.
4. Scoop a tablespoon of ganache on top of each cupcake. Smooth with a small offset spatula.
5. Top with a won ton.

Jackfruit, Banana, and Peanut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting24

cupcakes topped with chopped peanuts and salt

I have heard of Jackfruit. After all, I do live in San Francisco and get exposed to a variety of “exotic” ingredients. This was, however, my first time tasting it and to be honest, I am not sure how to describe it. I am told that I need to try the real (fresh) jackfruit as opposed to canned (canned was admittedly what I had on hand), but have also been warned of the amount of work it involves to wrangle one into submission. I have since learned that many Asian grocery stores sell manageable chunks of fresh jackfriut, so I wouldn’t have to commit to a large whole one.

So, while I can’t easily compare jackfruit to something familiar to the US palate, I will describe the resulting cupcakes as tasty starting off with a hint of banana then rounding out with a jackfruit or “tropical” flavor. They are dense and muffin-like with definite chew and crunch. The cake could be lightened up some by cutting back some on the jackfruit and peanuts.

Cupcakes
20 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces canned jackfruit, drained and chopped
2 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped

1. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and sugar in a medium sized bowl.
2. In a separate medium sized bowl bowl, beat eggs to break up.
3. Add oil, coconut milk, and vanilla to the eggs and mix to combine.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mix to combine.
5. Add jackfruit, mashed bananas, and peanuts to the rest of the ingredients and mix to combine.
6. Scoop into cupcake papers about 2/3s full with an ice cream scooper.
7. Bake at 350 degree oven for ~25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

jackfruit and banana
jackfruit & banana

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. 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 beat until combined.
5. Add more sugar until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like

Assembly
1. Frost cupcakes.
2. Chop some unsalted peanuts with salt.
2. Sprinkle peanuts on top of cupcakes

jackfruit, banana, and peanut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Green Tea Bubble Cream filled Cupcakes with Green Tea Cream Cheese Frosting35

Posted by chockylit in Asian-Inspired, Cheese, Experimental Recipe, Herbs & Flowers (Saturday January 27, 2007 at 1:00 pm)

green tea cupcakes

I kept these cupcakes fairly simple. They were for a friend’s birthday and I was making them mid-week, so I had little time for fuss or experimentation. I did come up with this “green tea bubble cream” recipe and while it wasn’t 100% successful, the end result was more than acceptable as a cupcake filling. The green tea cream cheese frosting was yummy as expected.

When planning these cupcakes out, I did start to research vanilla cupcakes in a bit more depth as I want to develop a couple of my own vanilla cupcake recipes. While researching existing recipes, I did notice a couple of interesting facts. Firstly, the Magnolia vanilla cupcake recipe and Billy’s vanilla cupcake recipe are nearly identical in proportions with the exception of Billy’s recipe using some cake flour in place of all-purpose and a lot more baking powder. Martha Stewart’s recipe on the other hand had very different proportions with 50% more eggs, 50% more milk and slightly more flour. Lastly, Amy Sedaris’s and Claire Crespo’s recipes are very similar, but on the opposite end of the spectrum than Martha’s with proportionally less eggs. Interesting… I plan to test as many of them as possible (and to research more). Look for that in a hopefully near future post.

Green Tea Bubble Cream (or Tapioca Pudding)

1/4 cup small pearl tapioca
1 cup whole milk
1/2 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
pinch salt
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons matcha green tea

1. Cover the tapioca pearls in warm water in a bowl and let sit on the counter for 20 minutes. Drain the pearls.
2. Heat milk, coconut milk, salt, and pearls over medium-high heat until boiling.
3. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking, stirring regularly, until tapioca are translucent and chewy, approximately 3-5 minutes.
4. While milk and tapioca are coming to a boil, whisk egg yolks in a small bowl and gradually add sugar. Add matcha and whisk together.
5. Add a small amount of the heated milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking continuously. (An extra set of hands can be helpful.)
6. Pour the egg mixture back into the milk mixture and continue to heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
7. Transfer to a heat proof bowl. Let sit at room temperature until cool. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator until cold, about 1-2 hours or overnight.

Note: The end result is not very sweet. If you like things on the sweet side, I recommend upping the sugar to 1/3 cup. I would if I make this again.

green tea bubble cream
green tea bubble cream

Cupcakes
~28 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

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 eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add to mixer bowl. Add the milk and vanilla. Mix to combine.
5. Scoop into cupcake papers about half to two-thirds full (depending on whether you want flat or domed cupcakes).
6. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Green Tea Cream Cheese Frosting

12 ounces or 1-1/2 packages of Philly cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon matcha green tea powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Bring cheese and 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 cheese at medium speed until creamy
4. Add half of the sugar, the green tea powder, and the vanilla. Beat until combined.
5. Gradually add remaining sugar (more if you have to) until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like.

Assemble
1. Fill cupcakes using the cone method or any other method.
2. Frost and decorate as desired.

green tea cupcake
topped with fondant disks

Himalayan Goji Berry Chocolate Cupcakes topped with Chocolate Ganache and Himalayan Pink Salt35

Posted by chockylit in Asian-Inspired, Berries, Chocolate, General (Monday January 15, 2007 at 9:11 am)

Himalayan Goji Berry Chocolate Cupcakes topped with Chocolate Ganache and Himalayan Pink Salt

I found these berries during one of my frequent trolls through the Village Market in the Ferry Building. While extremely expensive, the Village Market is sure to have something new and exotic that I can make into a cupcake. And frankly, I can’t help myself.

I purchased these some time ago and am finally getting around to making a cupcake out of them (and some pricy Himalayan Pink Salt also purchased at said market). I had never had goji berries before and was pleasantly surprised. Both their smell and taste remind me of figs, which I love, but the goji berry is definitely unique and really unlike any dried fruit I tasted. Apparently they are quite good for you as well. What a plus.

I used my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe which never fails me and topped them off with a small dollop of ganache. All in all a rich and slightly tangy cupcake that went down pretty easy.

Cupcakes
30 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

200 gram bar of Valrhona 61% cacao (or any bittersweet chocolate)
3 sticks (343 grams) butter
2-1/4 cups (445 grams) sugar
8 eggs
1-1/4 cup (180 grams) flour
1/4 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder, unsweetened
1-1/2 teaspoons (7 grams) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
3/4 cup (82 grams) goji berries, chopped

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. Let mixture cool for 10 minutes.
4. Beat in an electric mixer for 3 minutes.
5. Add one egg at a time, mixing for 30 seconds between each
6. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into the mixture, return to the electric mixer, and mix until blended.
7. Stir in the goji berries. Scoop into cupcake cups and bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Note: If the oven is not hot enough than these cupcakes may over-flow. One way to be safe is to either fill 2/3’s full or another trick I use is to preheat to 375, then drop the heat to 350 once I put the cupcakes in. I also rotate the pans after 15 minutes of baking. It is safe to gently move then at that point and I find the lower back of my oven to be a bit cooler.

mise en place
mise en place

goji berries going into chocolate cupcake batter
goji berries going into batter

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

5 ounces (145 grams) bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces (54 grams) unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 stick (57 grams) butter, room temperature
1 cup (100 grams) powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) Himalayan pink salt
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Chop chocolates and transfer into a heat proof bowl.
2. Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate.
3. Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.
4. Add butter to the chocolate (make sure its soft and at room temp) and stir until everything is melted and combined.
5. Whisk together sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla in another bowl until combined.
6. Pour the sugar mixture onto the chocolate mixture and stir until combined and smooth.
7. Let sit at room temperature until thickened, stirring occasionally
8. Beat with an electric mixer until fluffy.

Note: If your chocolate, cream, and butter mixture won’t quite melt on its own, place over a pan of simmering water and stir until fully melted.

goji berries
goji berry package

Assemble
1. Frost cooled cupcakes.
2. Top with Himalayan pink salt.

Mooncake Cupcakes (Bean Paste Filled Cupcakes with Date-Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting)57

Posted by chockylit in Asian-Inspired, Beans, Cheese, Experimental Recipe, Other Fruits, Step-by-Step Photos (Sunday September 24, 2006 at 12:12 pm)

mooncake cupcakes

I had my first mooncake this week – a dough covered, red bean paste filled sweet, purchased and exchanged during the mid-autumn moon festival which is being celebrated this weekend in San Francisco.

I have been prodded in the past to try something with red bean paste and have enjoyed other desserts made with the filling. So, it seemed like a perfect time to try it out. Red bean paste is sweet and earthy with a distinct “beanie” flavor, a good match for cupcakes.

I researched bean paste recipes and they all basically involved soaking, boiling, pureeing, and cooking the paste with sugar and oil. I cut back significantly on the amount of sugar and oil and liked the end result although it was less sweet and less thick than the commercial products I have tasted.

I stuck to a basic cupcake base, filled each with paste, baked them, topped them with a yummy date-pineapple cream cheese frosting and dipped each in lightly salted sesame seeds. The end result was delicious. Sweet, but a touch salty and the bean and sesame flavors shown through.

I also wanted to point out the addition of a new page on the right, baking basics & troubleshooting. Folks new to baking should definitely give it a read. And if any of you experienced folks have anything to add, please do!

Red Bean Paste

1-1/4 cups red adzuki beans
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar

1. Cover beans in cold water and soak uncovered, overnight.
2. Drain, transfer back to the pot and cover in 5 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
3. Drain and puree with a hand blender or in a food processor.
4. Press through a metal sieve. Note: This is time consuming work. The pureed beans become a thick paste and it takes some time to press through the sieve, clean off the underside, continue pressing until most of the bean puree passes through and the skins are left behind.
5. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pureed beans and sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon for about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to cool.
6. After the paste has cooled, scoop out 3/4″ balls. I used a small ice cream scooper. Cover loosely with plastic wrap so they won’t dry out.

adzuki beans
red “adzuki” beans

pressing bean paste through a sieve
pressing paste through sieve

Cupcakes
22-24 regular cupcakes / 375-350 degree oven

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanillas

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 eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add to mixer bowl. Add the milk and vanilla. Mix to combine.
5. Fill each cupcake paper about 1/4 full. Smooth with the back of a spoon. Press in a bean paste ball. Top with more batter until about 3/4 full. Smooth with the back of a spoon.

Note: Baking these is a little tricky as they end up a bit full. I pre-heated the oven to 375 then turned it down to 350 once I put the cupcakes in. This worked out well; I lost only one to overflow… and it wasn’t quite lost… I did eat it after all.

smoothing out first layer of batter
smoothing out first layer

bean paste ball on top of first layer of batter
bean paste ball

scooping on top layer of batter
scooping on top layer

Date & Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces or 1 package of Philly cream cheese
1/2 stick butter, room temperature
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup dried dates, chopped
1/2 cup dried pineapple, chopped

1. Bring the butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours
2. Beat butter and cheese at medium speed until creamy
3. Sift powdered sugar into the bowl, add vanilla, then beat until combined.
4. Add chopped dates and pineapple and stir until combined

NOTE: You can add more or less sugar to get to the consistency and sweetness you like.

Assemble
1. Top cooled cupcakes with frosting.
2. Dip into lightly salted sesame seeds.

scooping frosting onto cupcakes
scooping out frosting

smoothing out frosting
smoothing out frosting

dipping into sesame seeds
dipping into sesame seeds

mooncake cupcake
inside of the cupcake