Sunday, February 16, 2014

Filled, Frosted Cupcakes: Finishing my Valentine Labor of Love

Yesterday, I wrote of the process involved in the creating of the recipes for these cupcakes, and the fact that the flavor combination was from a vaguely Middle Eastern palette; cardamom, black pepper, orange, pistachio, rosewater. I wanted to make filled and frosted cupcakes, something I had not yet tried. Pureed sweet potato would go in the cake, knowing this would give a great moist texture. I settled on a Pistachio Cream Filling, which was made in 2 steps. First the Pastry Cream, which is also wonderful as a pudding. Since the Pistachio Cream Filling recipe only needs a small part of the Pastry Cream recipe, you can give this a try as a pudding and taste its wonderful flavor. The frosting used freeze-dried strawberries, processed fine and added to the confectioners' sugar for the frosting. Rosewater was the combination with the strawberries to bring that Middle Eastern flavor to the frosting.

Sweet Potato Cardamom Cupcakes with Pistachio Cream Filling & Strawberry Rosewater Frosting
Rosewater is not something just everyone has at home, I realize. If looking for it, you will likely need to find a specialty store or order online. It can be found on Amazon, of course; look for it under culinary - not health and beauty. This is not "rosewater and glycerin" for the face, but one made for ingesting. Even Nielson-Massey, whose vanilla extracts I adore (and buy by the pint!) has rosewater now. While culinary rosewater can be used for beauty purposes, do not buy cosmetic rosewater to use for cooking.

Inside the Cupcakes
This whole set of recipes may seem like a lot of work, and making everything on the same day can certainly be work. Instead, break the recipes up into components and make them ahead. The pastry cream can be made a couple of days in advance and kept chilled until needed. The Pistachio Cream can be completed and chilled 2 to 3 days in advance and kept tightly covered and chilled until needed. The frosting could possibly be kept for a day, though I am unsure of how the texture would fare. It may need to be beaten again to bring it back to usable form. 

Coring & Extracting
All the cores & closeup of cupcake
Making the cupcakes with the intent to core and fill was something I had never attempted. On TV I saw someone using the exact same kind of apple corer that I own to take the core out of cupcakes. AHA! It was very simple. My corer, seen in these photos, has a little serration to the edge. Obviously this helps with coring an apple, and helps as well with taking the center from a cupcake. By gently twisting the corer as you work it into the cupcake, you can easily bring out the core without crushing the cupcake. Just as with slicing bread with a serrated knife, the object is to gently saw back and forth, rather than press down and crush the bread. A gentle twisting of the corer will do the same for the cupcakes without crushing. Just remember that you do not want to go all the way out the bottom of the cupcake when coring. Check the approximate height of the cupcake and then keep an eye out for the height when using the corer.

To finalize the cupcakes, use a piping bag, or a freezer-strength zip top bag with a corner cut out to fill in the centers with the Pistachio Cream. Make the filling mounded just slightly, as the filling will soak into the cupcake. Once the frosting is ready, use a piping bag and large star tip, or other open star tip to pipe a pretty design. The icing can just as easily be spread on with an icing spatula. Use a pinch of the reserved crushed freeze-dried strawberry over the top of the icing; see yesterday's post about the Strawberry Rosewater Frosting. 

Sweet Potato Cardamom Cupcakes

Makes about 24 cupcakes, or two 8-inch round layers, or one 9 x 13-inch cake

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
Cardamom Seeds & Pods
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup cooked, peeled, pureed sweet potato
fresh zest of 1 orange
juice of 1 orange (about 1/3 cup)
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 (325 on Convection). With a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Add the pureed sweet potato, orange juice and zest and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom and black pepper. Add these ingredients to the creamed mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the buttermilk until all combined. 

Set cupcake papers into two 12-cup muffin tins. Fill the papers about 2/3 full. Bake the cupcakes for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before attempting to core and fill.

If baking round cakes, the baking time may be 25 to 35 minutes. For a 9 x 13-inch cake, the bake time may be 35 to 45 minutes.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.