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