Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Vanilla bean cupcakes with blackberry cream cheese frosting

With Spring in the air and tons of great fruit coming into season, I had been wanting to make a light cake with a fresh fruit frosting. Lately I've been thinking a lot about how to use more unique fruits in baking. I adapted a white cake recipe from Martha Stewart (it is ironically her "Perfect White Cake" recipe, which I then messed with) by replacing 1 cup plain milk with 1 cup of sour cream and 1/2 cup of water to make for a super moist, flavorful cake. It's now my go-to white cake.

The difference between a white cake and a yellow cake is basically the use of the whole eggs in a yellow cake and only the whites in a white cake. Both yellow and white cakes are DELICIOUS, but I prefer white cake in this recipe to really showcase the vanilla bean and blackberry flavors. The delicate taste and light texture of the cake really lend to the rest of its components.

For the vanilla bean cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
6 large egg whites
3 cups sifted cake flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream (low-fat or regular)
1/2 cup water
1 vanilla bean, scraped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees* (I baked my cupcakes at 325 degrees because my oven gets crazy hot, but just as a tip, I generally find that baking cakes at slightly under 350 degrees makes for better results)

Cream together the sugar and butter, beating with paddle attachment for at least 3-4 minutes.

In the meantime, sift the cake flour with the baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Add in the vanilla bean and mix well.

Add in the egg whites and mix for 1-2 minutes.

Add in the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the sour cream and water. Mix after each addition, but do not over mix. Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl and bottom to be sure that the sugar and butter is all incorporated.

Divide batter evenly into cupcake liners and bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, alternating halfway through. The cupcakes are done when they spring back to the touch.

For the Blackberry Puree:

1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries, washed and dried
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp fresh orange juice

Puree all ingredients together in blender until liquified. Strain mixture through sieve to remove seeds. Place puree in small sauce pan and simmer on low heat until reduced about 1/3-1/2. Allow mixture to fully cool (you can put it in the freezer to expedite the process).

For the Blackberry Cream Cheese Frosting:

1/2 block cream cheese (I used only 1/2 block because I wanted to emphasize blackberry flavor and cut the sweetness a bit, so this is not an especially cream cheesy tasting frosting)
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup blackberry puree
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

Allow the cream cheese and butter to come close to room temperature prior to using. Beat together in mixer. After well combined and fluffy, add 1 tsp vanilla and powdered sugar in increments. Then add in the blackberry puree and mix well.

Pipe frosting onto each cupcake using large star tip and pastry bag. Put one blackberry on each cupcake as garnish.

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