Friday, March 28, 2008

Cadbury Egg Cupcakes: Master Baker Event

Master Baker Event





Easter candy was the theme for the Master Bakeshop blogging event this month. At first I cringed when I racked my brain and discovered that I've never made anything with easter candy in my life besides myself very sick, I reconsidered the assignment and realized that we didn't have to use Easter candy per se, but rather use it as inspiration. And with Cadbury Eggs in the running, what an inspiration.

ODE TO A CADBURY EGG

Even though I'm certain that Cadbury eggs have gotten considerably sweeter over the years, they are still one of my favorite sugar bombshells. In honor of the fearsome sweet and the Master Blogger Event, I have constructed my very own Cadbury egg. It is, like the original, really sweet.

The making of the Cada-Kirstin egg was a learning experience. The cupcakes were easy to make and I added chocolate chips at the end to add a crunch to an otherwise somewhat mushy dessert, which turned out to be a wise decision. The pudding I first made with milk instead of half and half. Not creamy enough. Made it again. The caramel, well, wow, I just messed up entirely on the first batch, scared myself and switched recipes to the more foolproof version (hello, that's me!) from the Tartine cookbook, and made the fresh recipe. Then, while taking a picture of the caramel, I flipped the whisk out of the pan near the sliding glass window where I was taking the picture in excellent light, and splattered the hot sugar liquid on the window, the hardwood floor, and on me. Later, on my knees with an SOS scrubbing pad in my hands, I cursed myself for caring about cleaning up the place when the manager can't even fix our leaky electric fan (yes, you read right) in our bathroom. So I learned.... to choose consistent recipes and not to get carried away taking pictures with caramel.



I paired the cupcakes with Dashe Late Harvest Zinfandel. The Cada-Kirstin eggs needed a juicy dessert wine that had some acidity, or the cupcakes would just taste flabby. And no one wants flabby cupcakes. The raspberry preserve flavors in the late Zin were delicious with the chocolate and brightened the whole Easter experience up. Cheers to Dashe, and here comes the Cada-Kirstin egg recipe:

Cupcake recipe is based off "The Old-Fashioned" Cupcake Recipe from the intensive Cupcake Bakeshop blog, the vanilla pudding recipe (link) was featured in the NY Times on Feb 21, 2007, and the caramel recipe (slightly shortened) is from the blessed Tartine Bakery Cookbook, which is a complete godsend of a book.

OLD FASHIONED CUPCAKE RECIPE
350 degrees, 8 cupcakes

¾ stick butter
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ salt
2/3 cup cocoa powdered
¾ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup dark chocolate chips (my addition, optional)

1. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each addition.

3. Measure the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine.

4. Measure the milk and vanilla into a measuring container.

5. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
 Add chocolate chips.
6. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 3/4’s full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Note:Use high-quality cocoa powder.


NEW YORK TIMES VANILLA PUDDING
4 servings

Time: 20 minutes, plus chilling

2 1/2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (optional).

1. Put 2 cups of half-and-half or milk, sugar and salt in a small or medium saucepot over medium-low heat. If using a vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and scrape seeds into milk or half-and-half using small sharp knife, then add pod. Cook just until mixture begins to steam.
2. Combine cornstarch and remaining milk or half-and-half in a bowl and blend; there should be no lumps. Fish pod from pot and discard. Add cornstarch mixture; cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture starts to thicken and barely reaches a boil, about 5 minutes. Immediately reduce heat to very low and stir for 5 minutes or so until thick. Stir in butter and vanilla extract, if using.
3. Pour mixture into a 1-quart dish or 4 to 6 small ramekins or bowls. Put plastic wrap directly on the pudding to prevent formation of a skin, or do not cover if you like skin. Refrigerate until chilled, and serve within a day, with whipped cream if you like. Whisk to remove lumps if needed.


CARAMEL
1 1/2 cups

2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 vanilla bean
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp light corn syrup
3/4 tsp. lemon juice
4 tbsp unsalted butter

1. Pour cream in a small heavy saucepan. Split vanilla bean and empty 1/4 of seeds into cream. Over medium-high heat, Bring to just under a boil, then reduce heat to low.
2. Ina medium, heavy saucepan, combine sugar, water, salt and cornsyrup and bring to boil over medium heat. Stir to disolve sugar. Once bubbling, cook without stirring until mixture turns an amber color. Remove promptly from heat. Tartine suggest taking the pan off the stove between 5-8 minutes. I left it on longer than 5 min and overcooked the caramel. Another reason to become more familiar with your electric stove (gasp).
3. The cream will stop the sugar from cooking any longer. Slowly add cream to the sugar mix, very carefully as the mixture will bubble wildly. When mixture stops bubbling, then whisk until smooth. Add lemon juice, whisk, and leave to cool for around 8-10 minutes.
4. Cut butter into chunks and add to caramel one at a time, whisking after each piece until dissolved. Whisk caramel periodically as cooling. Caramel will keep covered in fridge for up to a month.

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