Sunday, August 21, 2011

I ♥ cake - Pistachio cupcakes with dark ganache topping

Agent T was kind enough to have me over for lunch today to share some delicious home made chicken curry, so I thought I would bring some dessert. I stumbled upon this recipe while dreamily drooling over Annie's awesome blog, as is often the case, and felt the urge to try it (after making a few adjustments to match my taste). As expected, the cupcakes turned out rich, buttery and moist. I will definitely use this recipe again (I think the batter would make a good base for a pistachio and sour cherries cake - more on this later...).

For about 16 cupcakes:

1 cup shelled pistachios
140gr unsalted butter, at room temperature
90gr mascarpone, at room temperature
1½ cups caster sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ cups cake flour (not the self-rising type), sifted
1½ tsp. salt
For the ganache:
140gr Valrhona 68% chocolate (or your favourite dark chocolate), finely chopped
140gr mascarpone
30gr unsalted butter, at room temperature

Additional chopped pistachios, for garnish

First, prepare the pistachios. Note that it does not really matter whether they are salted or unsalted, as by the time you are done processing them the salt will have been washed off. Rub the pistachios between your palms to remove as much of the dry skin as possible, then rinse them a couple of times in cold water and leave them to soak for about 10mn, before removing the rest of the skin (which by now will have softened and should come off easily).

Pat the pistachios dry with a kitchen towel, reserve a few of the greener ones and grind the others to a fine powder using a food processor or a mortar and pestle.

Preheat the oven to 180˚C and line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a bowl, combine the butter and mascarpone and beat with an electric mixer medium-high speed until light and fluffy.

Add the ground pistachios.

Gradually mix in the sugar on medium-low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and salt, and mix just until the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Fill each paper cup about three quarters full and bake for 20 to 25mn.

Let cool in the pan a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.

Bring the mascarpone to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.

Pour the warm mascarpone over the chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes.

Whisk in small circular motions until the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth and glossy.

Whisk in the butter until completely incorporated.

Cover the top of each cooled cupcake with the ganache to create an even layer (let the ganache cool and thicken a bit beforehand).

Sprinkle with the remaining chopped pistachios. Do not refrigerate the cupcakes as this would cause the ganache to lose its glossy aspect.

Pop any leftover ganache into a piping bag and practise your piping skills! You can freeze the results for a couple of months and they make fabulous toppings for ice cream (or more cupcakes!).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I ♥ cake - Tiramisu cupcakes

I came up with this recipe recently, as I was trying to find a solution to the raw egg issue in a classic tiramisu. I had promised Agent T (whose bun has finally finished baking and is now breastfeeding) that I would make her a tiramisu, but even the best organic egg these days is not going to be safe to eat raw by a nursing mum... So I rearranged all the goodness of classic tiramisu ingredients and flavours into these cuppies. Delicious with a cup of espresso on the side :)

Tiramisu cupcakes (makes about 18)

For the cupcakes:
1 2/3 cups cake flour (not the self-rising type), sifted
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp instant coffee or espresso powder
8 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

For the sauce:
1 cup strong coffee
4tbsp whisky
4tbsp caster sugar

For the frosting:
500gr mascarpone
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1tbsp vanilla sugar (or a few drops vanilla extract)

Dark chocolate shavings to decorate

·                     Preheat the oven at 175°C.
·                     Place cupcake papers in muffin tins or cupcake trays.
·                     In a bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and espresso/coffee powder.
·                     Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
·                     Add the eggs, one at a time.
·                     Mix in the vanilla extract.
·                     Mix in the dry ingredients in 3 steps, alternating with the buttermilk.
·                     Fill the cupcake papers up to 2/3 of their height and bake for 18-20mn.
·                     Prepare the sauce: dissolve the sugar in the warm coffee and stir in the whisky.
·                     Cut off a small cap on each cupcake and carefully spoon the sauce inside the cake, a spoonful at a time, waiting for the liquid to be absorbed before adding more (gently squeeze the top of the cupcake to see if liquid seeps back up, to judge how much more you should add). Replace the cap on each cupcake.
·                     Whisk the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla sugar (or extract) into the mascarpone, place into a piping bag with a 1M star tip, and refrigerate for a couple of hours before using.
·                     Pipe the frosting over the cupcakes and sprinkle with chocolate shavings.