Sunday, July 7, 2013

Apricot-Filled Chardonnay Cupcakes With Strawberry Frosting

Cupcakes make you happy.
Apricot surprise!
My friend Anna is a cupcake genius. Cupcakes are her obsession and she's made a million amazing types. I hired her to make cupcakes for our pre-wedding BBQ based on a Moscow Mule--the drink Adam and I had on our second date, when I stole him a copper mug from Steuben's. Anna's the best baker I've ever met--and she had last Friday off, so she came over and we made these delicious, fruity cupcakes, drank boxed wine, and she regaled me with horror stories of her dating life. A great Friday afternoon.
World's foremost cupcake expert. 
I learned that cupcakes, like cobbler, is a formula rather than a specific recipe. You can improvise endlessly to create new flavors and themes.

Cupcake Batter:
 2 1/3 cups flour 
1 1/2 cups white sugar 
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk 
1 cup canola oil
2 eggs 
1 tablespoon vanilla 

What to do: Mix all the ingredients together! Now you have batter! Place cupcake papers into a muffin tin. Fill each one about halfway with batter. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. 
Cupcake batter
How to improvise: 
To make more healthy: Replace half of the canola oil with apple sauce. 
To make other flavors: Replace the milk with any other liquid. You can use fruit juice, booze--anything! 
For these particular cupcakes, we used boxed wine. Trashy and delicious. 

Then, to go on these chardonnay cupcakes, we made a Swiss Meringue butter cream frosting, with diced strawberries. This type of frosting starts with an egg white meringue, to which you whip in butter and flavorings. 

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

6 egg whites 
1 cup butter 
1 cup sugar 

What to do ( I copied these directions from Martha Stewart) 

Combine egg whites and  in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
Anna beating egg whites and sugar. 
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.

With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. 

At this point, add your flavorings. For fruit frosting, add about a cup of finely diced fresh fruit. We used strawberries, but any fruit would work.

Or--add a TB of vanilla and drops of food coloring for classic party frosting. 

Put on cupcakes!

The final exciting part of these cupcakes was the apricot filling. I chopped up 2 cups of fresh apricots, sprinkled them with 2 TB of sugar and 1 TB of cornstarch, then cooked them in a saucepan until boiling, then mashed them with a potato masher. They became apricot jam. 

Apricot filling being cooked. 

Then, we poked holes in the cupcakes, filled them with apricot filling, then frosted them. 

Cupcakes with apricot filling. 

Being frosted. 

These were delicious, and now, thanks to Anna, I know how to make cupcakes! Maybe I like baking more than I think. 

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