Thursday, June 30, 2011

June's Cupcake Of The Month: Lemon Meringue

Inspired by the cupcakes one can find in San Francisco's Cako and pushed by my love for all things citrus-y, I decided to finally make some of my own!

Since lemon meringue is one of the very few desserts I actually crave, I have a feeling I'll be making these often. After all, I'd much rather spend a couple hours in the kitchen than I would spending a couple hours driving somewhere just for some cupcakes.

The Ingredients (makes 1 dozen):
For the cupcakes:
-recipe can be found here
For the filling:
-1 egg
-1 yolk
-juice of 1 lemon
-1/2 cup butter
-1/2 cup sugar
For the frosting:
-3 egg whites
-1/2 cup sugar

The Directions:
1. Bake cupcakes as directed by the recipe.
2. Beat the egg and yolk in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Then beat in the juice, butter and sugar. Stir over medium heat until it reaches the consistency of pudding. Set aside and allow to cool (curd will thicken as it sits).
3. Beat the sugar and the egg whites until the sugar is completely dissolved and firm peaks form.
4. Using a paring knife, cut out a small hole at the top of your cupcake and fill with the lemon curd.
5. When you are ready to serve, frost cupcakes with the meringue and
...if you have a torch: lightly torch the top of the meringue.
...if you are torchless: turn on the broiler to medium-high heat and put the cupcakes under the broiler for a minute or two. Do not walk away from it!
6. Consume and enjoy!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tiramisu Cupcakes

These cupcakes were baked for a baby shower after I found out the mommy-to-be's favorite cake was tiramisu. I tried to find a way to incorporate the sponge biscuit part of the classic tiramisu but unfortunately, I couldn't figure anything out. But nonetheless, I got a lot of compliments about how much the cupcakes tasted like the cake so I'm still very happy with the outcome. 

Originally, I planned on just doing a simple garnish with cocoa powder but little chocolate E's (for baby Elise) look a lot cuter, no?

And no process pictures this time! My mind was somewhere else while I was baking and I completely forgot about taking pictures. But in the meantime, enjoy the couple of shots I was able to take while at the shower.

The Ingredients (makes 2 dozen):
For the cupcakes:
-recipe can be found here
For the sugar syrup:
-3 tbsp instant coffee or espresso powder
-1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
-1 1/2 cup water
-1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp dark rum or amaretto (optional)
For the frosting:
-2 cups heavy cream
-1 lb mascarpone cheese, softened
-1 cup powdered sugar, or to taste, sifted
-unsweetened cocoa powder or other garnish (optional)

The Directions:
1. Bake cupcakes as directed.
2. Dissolve the coffee powder and sugar into the water in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the alcohol. Set aside to cool. 
3. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a fork to pierce the tops.Then brush a generous amount of the syrup over the top, but no more than 2 tbsp per cupcake. The cupcakes will need at least 30 minutes to fully absorb the syrup.
4. Whip the mascarpone, heavy cream and sugar together until everything is smooth and combined.
Tip: If you are planning on dusting with cocoa powder, do not do so until maybe half an hour before serving or the powder might dissolve into your frosting.
6. Consume and enjoy!

Sugar Cookies With Royal Icing

Not going to lie, shaped sugar cookies are probably one of my least favorite things to bake. All the rolling and cutting and re-rolling and cutting... it can get repetitive. I'm also not the best at decorating them either... but with all of that aside, these cookies came out pretty cute! Learning how to make royal icing definitely made life easier too. Seriously, you should try it.

The Ingredients:
For the cookies:
-4 cups all purpose flour
-1/2 tsp cream of tartar
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp baking powder

-1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
-2 cups sugar
-2 eggs
-2 egg yolks
-5 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing:
-2 tbsp meringue powder
-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
-6 tbsp warm water plus any extra for diluting
-food coloring

The Directions:
1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cream of tartar, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
2. Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Then add in the sugar and beat until well combined.
3. Add in the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, making sure to mix well after each addition. Then stir in the vanilla.
4. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet, mixing until just combined.
5. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least one hour.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface, roll it out and cut out desired shapes. Place dough on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 6 to 8 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a rack before decorating.
Tip: If you have warm hands like I do you're going to want to work with a bit of the dough at a time and keep the rest in the fridge. If the dough becomes too soft to work with, place it in the freezer for a few minutes.
8. Place all of the icing ingredients into your mixing bowl and beat on low until smooth. Color as desired and decorate cookies.
Tip: To color the royal icing, I strongly recommend using gel or paste food coloring as liquid would dilute the icing too much. But if you do need to thin out the icing, add a half teaspoon of water at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. Also, be sure to keep your icing covered when you're not using it or it will start to harden and become grainy.
9. Consume and enjoy!