Thursday, April 4, 2013

Riffing on a theme - Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

OK, as promised, here we begin a series of posts where we vary a base recipe to make different flavors of cupcakes.  And, because anything worth doing is worth overdoing, make a different icing for each.  Today's flavor:  Orange Creamsicle!

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

3 c. Fancy Flour Blend OR
1/2 c. millet flour
1 c. white rice flour
1/2 c. sweet rice flour
3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
2 Tbsp potato starch

1-1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp King Arthur Cake Improver (optional)
1-1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp sugar
5 egg whites
1/4 c. whole milk
3/4 c. orange juice
zest of two medium oranges
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 standard cupcake pans with paper liners.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine dry ingredients.  Turn the mixer on low for just a few seconds to combine.  Why the alteration of leavening?  There is enough acid in the orange juice to react with the baking soda (which is a much more potent agent than baking powder).  We want to neutralize some, but not all, of the acid in the orange juice.

Place the egg whites, extracts, and the milk in a bowl and beat lightly with a fork.  Set aside.

Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature and in easy reach:
Turn your mixer back on at it's lowest setting.  Add the butter, coconut oil, canola oil, orange zest and orange juice.  Mix until ingredients start to come together slightly:
Now add the egg mixture in three separate additions, beating for around 20-30 seconds each time.  When all the ingredients are combined thoroughly, turn the speed up to medium and beat thoroughly for 3-5 minutes.  Add a drop or two of orange food coloring, if desired.
Portion the batter into the cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool completely.

Stabilized Whipped Cream Icing

2 c. heavy cream
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp water
1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin

Bloom gelatin in water in a small glass or ceramic bowl.  Set aside.  Beat cream until the cream starts to hold it's shape.  Add sugar and vanilla and continue beating until soft peaks form.  Microwave the gelatin mixture for about 30 seconds, until melted.  With beaters running, pour gelatin into cream in a steady stream.  Cream will very quickly stiffen.  Pipe onto cupcakes.
So, we've got one fun variation!

Monday, April 1, 2013

First on the First - Banana Pudding

This was, indeed, the first time I've ever made banana pudding.  Mostly because I hate banana pudding.  BUT I seem to be the only one in the house that feels that way about it, so I decided now was as good a time as any.  My husband insists that my personal motto is "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing."  In that vein, I give you: Roasted Banana Pudding.
Follow the above link for the recipe, in Feast Magazine.  Since the original recipe made a LOT of pudding, I made two modifications.  First, I halved the recipe.  Second, I left out the banana liqueur and used 2 whole roasted bananas, rather than trying to fuss with roasting half a banana.  Roasted bananas end up looking like this:
I suspect cutting it in half would have resulted in a lot of mess.  As it was, I was glad I'd lined the pan with parchment paper, as directed.  This is a complicated recipe with lots of steps.  So by the time I got around to making the pudding, my youngest was in bed.  I took a stick blender to the bananas, so that I could take it downstairs and not wake her.  I still ended up with a pretty smooth pudding, though using a blender would probably have made it smoother, yet.
Once the pudding had cooled, I started layering.  Since my girls are on a gluten-free diet, I used homemade gingersnaps (go back one post from here for the recipe)
Then layered the puddings and fresh banana slices.
Make sure the last layer is pudding, so the bananas are sealed and won't darken.  The last step was the fun bit for me - meringue.  I was multitasking, as usual, and my mixer bowl was occupied.  Which meant that, for the first time in years, I made meringue with my handmixer.  Wow.  For just a bit, I thought that I'd gotten a little grease into the bowl, but patience won out and eventually I got to medium peaks.
Then, I piled the meringue on top of the puddings and pulled up with the back of a spoon all over the surface.
Finally, I got out my husband's propane torch and caramelized the surface of the meringues.  (Don't do this until just before you serve.  They don't keep)  This was much more fun than the time I toasted the seven-minute frosting on cupcakes.  Mostly because ceramic ramekins don't catch fire the way cupcake wrappers do.  Oops.
The rest of the family thought these were fabulous.  Mission accomplished!