When it comes to cupcakes, you'll usually find me humming and hawing over anything vanilla, chocolate, caramel, nutty or some combination thereof. Generally speaking, I'm not much for funny flavours and bright colours.
But as our host Fanny at Foodbeam so wisely pointed out, sometimes you have to step outside your cake box and see what you've been missing. With that in mind, I went bold and blue for Sugar High Friday 45.
I wanted blueberry cupcakes like you've never seen them before. None of this blueberry muffin disguised as cupcake with a bit of tinted frosting. I wanted blue through and through, people. There's just one teeny tiny problem. Blueberries don't pack the same flavour punch as their brash raspberry and blackberry contemporaries. So although my cupcakes look berry blue, their taste is berry subtle.
On to the photos.
Cupcakes, pre-frosting. Someone couldn't help herself, apparently.
A berry blue sumo wrestler preparing to duel.
Alternatively, Mount Berry Blue.
A berry blue bouquet.
Berry Blue Cupcakes
Bring 1 pound of blueberries (fresh or frozen) to a boil over low-medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick (about 1/2 hour). Cool the mixture slightly before blending in a food processor until smooth. For an extra smooth puree, pass the mixture through a fine sieve before using.
Yields about 1 1/4 cups.
2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup of butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup blueberry puree
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line muffin tin with paper cups.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add one egg at a time, beating just until incorporated.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, mix the milk, blueberry puree and vanilla.
Add wet and dry ingredients alternately to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until incorporated after each addition. Do not overbeat!
Divide the batter evenly among the 12 paper cups. Spoon 1 teaspoon of blueberry puree into the center and mix in slightly with a wooden skewer or small spoon.
Bake for 18-22 minutes or until cake springs back to the touch. Cool for 10-15 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire
rack and cool completely before frosting.
Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 cup blueberry puree
2 1/4 cups icing sugar
drop or two of almond extract
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the blueberry puree and almond extract just until combined. Add the icing sugar gradually and beat until smooth and spreadable.
Frost the cooled cupcakes as you wish. Store in the fridge, but bring to room temperature before serving.
Yields 12 cupcakes.
Notes: I didn't bother straining my blueberry puree because I quite enjoy the little purple flecks. As the recipe suggested, I added a blueberry puree swirl on top of the cupcakes before baking. Next time, I'd fill the paper liners partway, add the puree, then top them with the rest of the batter for a hidden surprise! Finally, for reasons unknown, my cupcakes took about 25-28 minutes to bake all the way through.
Source: The cupcake recipe is one used by Trophy Cupcakes, which I found on Cakespy Seattle. I wasn't feeling the swiss meringue buttercream they suggest, so I whipped up a simple blueberry cream cheese frosting instead.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Friday, September 05, 2008
Some bloggers make a point of never making the same thing twice so that they always have something new to write about. Many people are under the false impression that I am one of those bloggers. They'll be surprised to learn that there are some things I make over and over and over again. The funny thing is, few of these goodies make an appearance on this blog. I confess I'm a bit embarrassed by them. They seem a little simple, a little too kitschy for the discerning taste of my readers.
Back in July, we were staying at R.'s sister's place in Toronto. So happy to be back in a real kitchen, I of course turned first to an old standby. Chocolate Peanut Butter Spiral (affectionately called P-Chocky in our home) is kind of like a peanut butter Rice Krispie square (without the marshmallows) covered in cocoa icing and rolled up like a jelly roll.
Later that week, when a couple of R.'s relatives stopped by for dinner, we BBQ'd up a feast. When thoughts turned to sweets, we were forced to slice up the last bit of P-Chocky as an impromptu dessert. My dirty little baking secret was out on the table. Literally. Lip smacks, finger licks and two requests for the recipe later, I can safely say it was a success.
Sometimes the kitschiest things can be extraordinarily good.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Spirals
3/4 cup corn syrup (light or golden) or Roger's golden syrup
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter (processed, au natural, chunky, smooth, low-fat, high-fat — they all work!)
1/3 cup butter
4 1/2 cups Rice Krispies
1/3 cup butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
Lightly grease a jelly roll pan (baking sheet with sides).
Cook corn syrup and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and bubbles.
Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and butter. Add Rice Krispies and stir until coated. Press mixture evenly into the prepared pan and cool in the fridge.
In the meantime, prepare the filling. Melt the butter and milk over low heat just until melted. Remove from heat and add the cocoa and icing sugar. Beat until smooth using an electric mixer. The filling will be quite thick but should be spreadable. Add a few extra drops of milk if necessary.
Spread the filling over the Rice Krispies mixture and roll up into a log. (I roll starting at the shorter end of the rectangle for a large spiral.) Refrigerate until set before cutting into slices.
Wrap log in plastic wrap, then foil, and store in the fridge or freezer.
Labels: Bars and squares
Monday, September 01, 2008
And not a moment too soon.
I can't say who's to blame, but a gaggle of bananas appeared on the counter overnight. I watched them progress from greenish yellow to golden to spotted brown before – quite literally – whisking them away to a better place.
A little pecan dust does wonders.
Banana Pecan Upside Down Cake
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons water
3 medium-sized bananas
1/2 cup pecan halves
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 cup mashed banana (about 2 medium bananas)
1/2 cup sour cream, regular or low-fat
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecan dust
To prepare the topping, mix the brown sugar and water together in an 8-inch cast iron skillet. Heat the mixture until it begins to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
While the caramel is cooling, toast 1 cup of pecans either on a baking sheet in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven or in a frying pan over medium heat on the stovetop. Set aside 1/2 cup of pecan halves. Use a food processor to grind the remaining pecans into a fine meal (make sure to stop before you have pecan butter!).
Once the caramel is cool, slice the 3 bananas on an angle into 1/4-inch slices. Arrange the bananas and 1/2 cup of pecan halves in rows on top of the caramel, overlapping them slightly. Squeeze the lemon juice over the bananas.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir in the granulated sugar. In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, egg, egg white, mashed banana, sour cream and vanilla.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients just until combined. Fold in the pecan dust. Carefully spread the batter over the bananas and bake for 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes. Loosen the edges of the cake from the pan and invert onto a serving platter.
Source: A nuttier, but less chocolate-y, variation on David Lebovitz's Banana-Chocolate Chip Upside Down Cake.
Labels: Cakes and cupcakes