Dear Casual Baker,
St. Patrick's Day came and went 4 days ago already. What am I supposed to do with green velvet cupcakes now?
Reader on a Rampage
An interesting question. The good news is that St. Patrick's Day is an annual event, so you're in good shape for March 17, 2011.
*she shrugs and smiles*
Hey, I just make the stuff.
The Casual Baker
Green Velvet Cupcakes
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tablespoons green food colouring
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
1 cup superfine sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line up your lightly greased silicone muffins cups on cookie sheets (or line your muffin tins with paper liners) and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa and salt. Set aside.
In a second medium bowl, whisk the egg whites, green food colouring and vanilla until lightly combined. Set aside.
In a large bowl, use an electric or stand mixer to beat the oil and butter on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the dry ingredients, followed by the buttermilk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Add the egg mixture to the batter in two parts, mixing on medium speed for 30 seconds between each addition.
Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them 2/3-3/4 full.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean (about 15-20 minutes for minis or 20-25 minutes for full-size cupcakes). Cool completely before frosting.
White Chocolate Frosting
170 grams white chocolate (6 1-ounce squares)
250 grams cream cheese (1 box)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Roughly chop the chocolate and then melt it gently in the top of a double boiler, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir until fully melted. Allow the chocolate to cool until it is no longer warm to the touch, but still fluid.
In a food processor, briefly mix the cream cheese, butter and sour cream until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides. Add the cooled melted white chocolate and and pulse to mix. Add the almond extract and pulse again to mix.
Yields about 10 mini + 10 full-size cupcakes.
Source: Rose Red Velvet Cake and Dreamy White Chocolate Frosting in Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum, pp. 83-85.
Notes: I will echo Ms. Levy Beranbaum's warning to use high-quality white chocolate that contains cocoa butter for best results.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Dear Casual Baker,
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Warning: This is a convoluted tale with a tenuous connection to pie, and really no link at all to mixed berry pie. In fact, tenuous might be an exaggeration. Consider yourself warned.
It begins and ends with an empty plate.
This empty plate sat on my desk in Vancouver, beside a Conan (as in O'Brien) mug half-filled with cold coffee, at approximately 10:30am on Tuesday, February 16.
A mere 6 1/2 minutes before, it looked something like this.
And 5 3/4 minutes before that, something like this.
A mixed berry concoction that was honestly one of the tastiest pies I've ever made, which is perhaps how I arrived at any empty plate just 12 1/4 minutes into the "photo shoot". (Aside: I considered a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but decided it was too early in the morning.)
But like I said before, this post isn't really about mixed berry pie, or pie at all for that matter. No, it's about empty plates and what's left behind.
I'd rate this particular one a bit messy. If you scroll back up for a second, you can see how some filling got away from me there near the rim, where the plate curves too steeply for the pie fork. I'm usually quite tidy, carefully scraping up all digestible sugar matter as I go, after each bite.
You know sometimes how the littlest detail--a scent, a flavour, a song, a colour--can take you back to another time and place? It was like that with this plate.
It was June 2008 and R. and I had just finished walking 800 kilometres of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. After a few days of rest in Portugal, we headed back to Paris to gather our things, say farewell to friends and have one last go at our favourite foods. That's how we found ourselves dining at Le Poisson Rouge just a few days before we headed back to Canada.
For a time, Le Poisson Rouge had a regular spot in the weekday lunch rotation. The restaurant was especially popular with the Anglos in the office--particularly the Brits--for its steak and mash. If I'm honest though, the real reason we kept going back was the glorious fondant au chocolat.
There were the inevitable comparisons as spoons cracked fondants. Whose had the runniest centre? Whose was overbaked? And then came the analysis of each finished plate as, one by one, owners pushed them away and sat back in their chairs to sip their cafés. Points for clean, tidy plates with no crumbs and even spacing between spoon strokes. Bonus points for creative deviations from the traditional back and forth pattern demonstrated above.
A vote. A victor declared.
A full stomach. A happy heart. An empty plate.
Source: Adapted from Mixed Berry Pie with Pecan Orange Lattice Crust at Epicurious.com, originally published in Bon Appétit, November 1998.
Notes: I kept the lattice top, but used plain pastry. For the filling, I used 2 cups cranberries, 2 cups blueberries and 2 cups strawberries (measured frozen, then defrosted) and substituted blackberry jelly for the marmalade because that's what I had in the freezer/fridge.