Cupcake Camp Cupcakes!

I went to Cupcake Camp this weekend. It was held at City Hall here in Ottawa, and photos from the event can be found here. I entered the Amateur baker category and submitted my cupcakes in the Tastiest Twist on Traditional category. To my sheer and utter delight, they won! So here it is, my recipe for 5-spice chocolate cupcakes filled with tamari caramel and topped with wasabi (yes, wasabi) frosting.


5-spice Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes about 2 dozen

2 1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 scant tsp. 5-spice powder

1 c. unsalted butter (2 sticks)

1 c. demerara-style brown sugar

1 c. 2 tbsp. white sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 c. light coconut milk

Preheat the oven to 325º F and line muffin tins with paper liners, or grease and flour the muffin tins.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and 5-spice powder. Whisk in the salt to blend.

In a stand mixer on medium speed, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the demerara and white sugars and mix to blend. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating each fully before adding the next.

Whisk the vanilla into the coconut milk. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the coconut milk to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until flour mixture is fully incorporated; do not overmix or cupcakes will get tougher.

Portion the cupcake batter into muffin tins. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 325ºF. Check that a tester comes out clean to see if they’re done, but err on the side of underbaking them. If overbaked, they will be too dry.

Tamari Caramel

Makes about 1 1/2 c.

Adapted from Elizabeth Falkner’s Demolition Desserts

1/4 c. water

1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

1 c. granulated sugar

2 tbsp. corn syrup

1 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 c. heavy cream

1 tbsp. tamari

1/2 tsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine water, cream of tartar, corn syrup, and sugar. Mix to moisten sugar. Heat saucepan, covered, on high. Cook until caramel comes to a full rolling boil. Remove the lid and reduce heat to medium-high. Cook until caramel is slightly lighter than the desired colour (I went for a medium red-amber, which gives the sugar a lightly toasted flavour). Remove the pan from the heat.

Add the tablespoon of butter and stir until melted. Slowly and carefully pour in the cream, as there will be a hot column of steam that arises. Place the pan over medium-low heat and stir until smooth and the mixture is slightly bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in tamari and reduced-sodium soy sauce. Decant into a mason jar. Let sit until jar comes to room temperature, then refrigerate until caramel is chilled and thick. Overnight works well.

Add to a piping bag fitted with a filling tip or add to a squeeze bottle. Insert the piping tip into each cupcake and squeeze until it feels as though the cupcake has taken on weight. Continue until all cupcakes are filled.

Wasabi Frosting

I found the buttercream on its own to taste too starchy, and the egg white frosting tasty but too thin to pipe, so I combined the two.

Adapted from Elizabeth Falkner’s Demolition Desserts

Buttercream portion:

1 c. unsalted butter, softened

2-3 tbsp. orange juice

5 c. sifted icing sugar

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. wasabi paste

Icing Portion (you’ll only need half of this)

3 egg whites

1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

3/4 c. granulated sugar

2 tbsp. corn syrup

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tsp. wasabi paste

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Add the orange juice and mix to combine – it may not fully incorporate. Add the icing sugar, one cup at a time. Stop adding icing sugar if the icing becomes too thick for your liking. Add wasabi and vanilla and beat on high until the buttercream is light, fluffy, and blended. Set aside.

In a medium heatproof bowl, combine egg whites, cream of tartar, sugar, and corn syrup. Place over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Using a hand mixer, beat the frosting until glossy white and thickened to the desired consistency. Add the vanilla and wasabi paste and beat just a bit longer. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add about half of the icing mixture to the buttercream and beat until thoroughly combined. Add frosting to a piping bag and pipe onto filled cupcakes. If icing is too stiff to pipe, add more of the icing mixture to the buttercream until desired thickness is achieved.


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