Monday, February 28, 2011
Creme Brulee Cupcakes
Ever since I had my first cupcake at Enjoy Cupcakes in Santa Ynez Valley, I was enamored by their filled cupcakes and unique (and successful) flavors. The churro cupcake TASTES like a churro, the turtle cupcake TASTES like a chocolate caramel turtle, the wine infused cupcakes hold the clear nuance of chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. And to top it off, they have a vintage trailer for special event catering...could it get much better?
Anyway, Enjoy Cupcakes has served as my inspiration to create unique flavors that are not only delicious, but actually taste like what they are supposed to. So often, a cupcake flavor does not live up to its name- not so with Enjoy Cupcakes! And not so with these Creme Brulee cupcakes, if I do say so myself.
I should start off by stating that a creme brulee cupcake recipe is not as unique as you might think. There are multiple recipes that add caramel to the batter and use a brown sugar swiss meringue buttercream, which is sprinkled with brown sugar and bruleed. I also found other cupcake recipes, which core a cupcake and fill it with actual creme brulee (which is torched like the traditional dessert). My goal with this cupcake was to incorporate both actual creme brulee AND frosting.
For the yellow cupcakes:
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 stick butter, unsalted at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup light sour cream
1/3 cup cold water
Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together by whipping with paddle attachment of stand mixer. After mixing for about 3-5 minutes and butter and sugar mixture is light and fluffy, add vanilla extract. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Add some of the sour cream and water. Alternate the wet and dry ingredients until well combined. Do not over mix, but make sure the dry ingredients are fully combined into the batter.
For the creme brulee (Recipe adapted from Alton Brown version, Food Network):
Yield: 4 ramekins of creme brulee- enough to fill 24 cupcakes
1 pint heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/3 cup vanilla sugar, plus 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top of creme brulee
3 large egg yolks
1 quart hot water
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and reserve for another use.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour the liquid into 6 (7 to 8-ounce) ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still trembling in the center, approximately 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, use a sharp paring knife to cut out the center of each cupcake. When all of the cupcakes are cored, scoop the creme brulee out of the ramekins and into a pastry bag (no tip needed). Fill each cupcake hole up to the top. If you have enough creme brulee, feel free to allow it to overflow outside of the cupcake core a bit.
For the brown sugar swiss meringue buttercream:
4 egg whites
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
Fill a saucepan about 1/3 way full with water and place on medium heat until simmering. Place brown sugar and egg whites in heat safe bowl. Place bowl inside pot of simmering water (not allowing the water to come into contact with the bowl's contents) and whisk egg whites and sugar until sugar has melted and a candy thermometer reads 160 degrees.
Place mixture into mixing bowl. Place whisk attachment on stand mixer and and beat on medium high until mixture has a thick and fluffy meringue-like consistency and is cooled. Add butter piece by piece, mixing well after each addition. Once butter has all been added, switch to a paddle attachment and beat for an additional 2 minutes.
Fit a pastry bag with a large star tip. Pipe frosting around the edge of each cupcake, leaving the creme brulee center uncovered.
After all of the cupcakes are frosted, sprinkle vanilla sugar on top of each creme brulee core and torch until caramelized.