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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Butternut Bourbon² Cupcakes

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If you're wondering what I've been doing lately, don't look on the blog, look on Twitter.  I've been moonlighting as the jam fairy over in the kitchen at Manresa.  We have so much produce coming from the gardens at Love Apple Farm that we had to do something about them.  So I've been making jam with red tomatoes, green tomatoes, hot chillies, not to mention all the fabulous Meyer lemons and mandarins we harvested from Gene's farm.  The craziest thing about all this is that we sold them all already!  All of them.  Most even before I was done making them.  Pre-arrival jams, how about that, huh?  Who wants to trade in Bordeaux futures when you can sell jam futures?

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Anyhow, today I want to tell you about the one I had the most fun making.  No, no, I'm not saying that I loved it the most.  I love all my jam children equally.  I'm saying I had the most fun making it, mostly because I think - quite shamelessly so - that it's such a brilliant idea.  The inspiration struck pretty suddenly, as I was rummaging in Manresa's dry storage looking for ingredients I could play with.  The produce I was working with that day was butternut squash - the garden had produced such an abundance the kitchen couldn't keep up, so in my bassine à confiture they go.  I'd been vaguely thinking about doing something with vanilla beans, then I found a bottle of Bourbon whiskey, just laying there, looking a bit forlorn, a light layer of dust covering the bottle's shoulder. Bourbon whiskey are aged in American oak, giving it a lovely vanilla aroma, which would compliment the Bourbon vanilla I'd planned to use in the jam.  And as far as I'm concerned everything is better with a little booze in it!

And I knew that was it.  Butternut squash, Bourbon vanilla, and bourbon whiskey.  That's my jam!  I even got the name right that very moment: Butternut Bourbon².  How cute is that, huh?  (Can you tell I used to be a geek?)

Then, yesterday another inspiration struck.  Musing about alternatives to the usual pumpkin-y desserts that make an outing around Thanksgiving, it came to me that the Butternut Bourbon² would make a fantastic filling for even more fantastic cupcakes.  So, here they are ladies and gentlemen, the best cupcakes, ever.  (Yes, yes I am aware that humility is not exactly my strong suit.)  But they *are* that good.

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I'll get around to posting the Butternut Bourbon² jam recipe soon, but meanwhile, you can make these cupcakes with a pumpkin of your choice cooked down with sugar and butter, and, of course, vanilla.  Just cook it down until mushy and use enough sugar and vanilla until sweet enough to your taste.  It's really that simple.

Butternut Bourbon² cupcakes

For the cupcakes
2/3 cup (120g) crèmes fraîche (or yogurt will do in a pinch)
2 large eggs
2 large yolks
2t vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean if you want to be indulgent)
2 cups (225g) all purpose flour
1 cup (225g) sugar
1t baking powder
1t baking soda
1.5 sticks (12T, 170g) butter at room temp.

For the filling
4oz (120g) Butternut Bourbon² jam

For the frosting
10T (140g) butter, room temp
10T (140g) cream cheese, room temp
1/3 cup (75g) powdered sugar
1T lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl, stir the crèmes fraîche, eggs, yolks, and vanilla extract together until well blended.  If you're using a vanilla pod, slice it in half and scrape off the seeds.  Keep the pods to 

In your mixer bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder) together.  Using your paddle attachment, beat the soft butter into the dry ingredients.  Add the crèmes fraîche/eggs mixture and beat until well incorporated. 

Line each bowl of a 12-cup muffin tin with muffin liners.  Divide the cupcake batter equally between the 12 bowls.  Bake in the preheated oven for 18 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely before continuing.

To make the frosting, beat butter, cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and lemon juice together until well incorporated.  If you work with butter and cream cheese at room temperature they will be easier to blend.

When the cupcakes are cooled down completely, use a melon baller to scoop out a small round of the cake at the top.  Fill each hole with about 1.5t of the jam.  Cover the top with the frosting. 

Don't eat all of them yourself, you won't feel very good afterwards.  Don't ask me how I know.

P.S. If you like the look of the shaggy frosting, don't compliment me.  I totally stole the idea from Pichet Ong!  Kob khun ka P'chet!

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