Posts Tagged ‘cupcakes


Strawberry-Basil Lemonade Cupcakes – recipe 2 from the Cupcake Interview

As Hilary noted in the interview, these were inspired by a strawberry-basil lemonade I made about a week prior (which will be posted shortly), which was inspired in turn by a delicious cocktail I had at the Nelligan in Montreal. I wanted to make something quite bright to contrast with the heavier flavours in the s’mores cupcakes. These cupcakes have a lemon-basil cake, are filled with lemon curd, and are topped with a strawberry-basil frosting.


Lemon-Basil cupcakes

2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest

1 handful fresh basil leaves

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch baking soda

pinch salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp vanilla

1 recipe lemon curd (there are so many different recipes out there, but the flavour profile remains similar – for this version, I decided to try the lemon curd recipe from Baked)

1 recipe Strawberry-Meringue Frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 325º F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

Add the lemon zest, basil leaves and sugar to the bowl of a food processor, tearing the basil leaves into slightly smaller pieces as you add them. Pulse 4 or 5 times, until the mixture is uniform with a minimal amound of basil leaves visible. Measure out 1 cup of the lemon-basil sugar and reserve the remainder for the frosting.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the 1 cup of lemon-basil sugar and the lemon juice. Add the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter. Add the lemon-basil sugar mixture and mix well.

Add the vanilla to the almond milk.

Alternately add the almond milk and flour mixtures to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make lemon curd using your preferred recipe. Chill until cold and set. Then, fill muffins with lemon curd using your preferred method.

Frost with Strawberry-Meringue Frosting.

Strawberry-Meringue Frosting

1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped

reserved lemon-basil sugar

splash of lemon juice

4 egg whites

1/2 cup invert sugar or corn syrup

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup butter

Toss the strawberries with the lemon-basil sugar and the lemon juice. Let macerate for at least an hour, then purée until smooth.

Meanwhile, set a small pot of water to simmer. Add the egg whites, invert sugar and sugar to the bowl of a standmixer and place the bowl over the simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved, the mixture has lightened, and the temperature has reached 160º F. Immediately remove the bowl from the heat and replace it in the stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high until it has increased in volume, cooled, and turned bright white.

Add the butter, a knob at a time, until incorporated. Pour in the strawberry purée, a little at a time, until the desired colour and flavour are reached. Pipe the frosting onto the filled cupcakes.


S’mores cupcakes – recipe 1 from Cupcake Interview on Local Tourist Ottawa


I recently had the great fortune to be interviewed by Ottawa’s Hilary Duff, who is on a delicious quest to find Ottawa’s best cupcakes for the Local Tourist Ottawa blog. I’ve been avidly reading Hilary’s research since her hunt began, so I was quite thrilled to make some cupcakes for her.

The first flavour I decided on was S’mores. A while back, while sipping some Laphroaig, I got it in my head that the campfire qualities of a nice, peaty Scotch would go brilliantly with marshmallows and, by extension, s’mores. I had a hypothetical cupcake in my head, and now I had a reason to develop it. The cupcakes would have to have enough whole wheat flour to impart the graham flavour. The tricky bit would be finding the right combination of sweeteners to achieve that nostalgic flavour of store-bought graham crackers. I first attempted the cupcakes with a combination of honey and molasses but found that the molasses imparted too much of a gingerbread flavour.

The next step was to decide on the filling. Would the cupcakes be filled with chocolate and dressed with marshmallow, or vice versa? It was an easy decision to sort out. The marshmallow had to be on the outside so that I could use my brulée torch (which I will make any excuse to use on a dessert) and get a roasted marshmallow flavour. Though I attempted to make a Scotch-based marshmallow fluff, it wound up being too runny and the flavour didn’t stand out enough against the sweetness of the frosting. Instead, I opted to paint the filled cupcakes with Lagavulin, then frost the cupcakes and torch the marshmallow.

The chocolate filling, I think is a matter of personal preference. I used David Lebovitz’s recipe for hot fudge sauce from his book The Perfect Scoop. However, I think any recipe for ganache or chocolate sauce would work quite well. I personally enjoy a deep, dark, chocolatey flavour in s’mores over the traditional milk chocolate – I find the milk chocolate flavour to be too cloying for me to enjoy the combination.


Graham cracker cupcakes

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. whole wheat flour (freshly milled, if possible – Castor River Farms at Lansdowne’s farmers’ market has fantastic, milled-on-the-spot flour)

1 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/4 c. plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar

3/4 c. honey

2 eggs

3/4 c. buttermilk

1 – 2 tbsp. Lagavulin or other peaty Scotch, divided

1 recipe chocolate filling of your choice.

1 recipe marshmallow frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk in the whole wheat flour and salt. Set aside.

Cut the butter into small pieces and place in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Melt, stirring occasionally. Let the butter cook until the foam begins subsiding and most of the bits on the bottom of the pan begin turning reddish-amber. The butter will give off a heavenly, nutty aroma.

Pour the butter into a jar or heatproof container (125 mL mason jars are my favourite kitchen accessory for things just like this). Cover and refrigerate just until cool, 30 minutes to an hour. Pour the browned butter into a bowl. Whisk in the sugar and honey. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the Scotch.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir until just combined. Divide batter evenly among the lined muffin cups.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted in a muffin comes out clean.

Makes about 12 cupcakes.

When cupcakes are cool, fill with your choice of chocolate filling using your preferred method for filling cupcakes. Using the pastry brush, paint each cupcake with the Lagavulin

*note: for Hilary’s interview, I piped in the filling. This did not give a satisfactory amount of chocolate filling in the cupcake, so for the batch pictured above, I hunted for techniques around the web until I found this one, which gives a nice truffle-sized amount of filling.

Marshmallow frosting

4 egg whites

1/2 cup invert sugar

seeds from 1 vanilla bean

1 1/2 cups sugar

Set a small pot of water to a simmer. Add all ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer and set the bowl over the simmering water, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Whisk constantly, checking the temperature from time to time (or by attaching a candy thermometer to the side of the bowl). The sugar will dissolve and the mixture will grow lighter and more opaque in colour. When the temperature reaches 235º 160º F, remove the bowl from the pot and replace it in the stand mixer. Using the whick attachment, mix on high for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture has cooled, turned bright white and considerably increased in volume. Scoop the marshmallow frosting into a piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice and pipe onto the filled cupcakes.

Using a brulée torch, toast the frosting until golden in most places and very slightly burned in others – this uneven toasting, for me, really gets the campfire feel across. Alternately, you could set the cupcakes under a broiler on high for 2 – 3 minutes, or until the frosting is toasted to your liking.


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.