12 days until Christmas all you foodie lovers. Boy has time flown by this year. I hope you’ve all finished your crazy gift shopping and can relax and enjoy the next week and a half unlike myself lol. This week I have taken a break from the hunt for unique Christmas cookies and decided to bring you a post about another holiday favorite… the classic Gingerbread. Now I could have just done the typical gingerbread cookie to stick with my cookie themed posts for the holidays but what fun would that be. Gingerbread cookies are classics not unique additions to the confection table so I switched it up a bit and put a twist on both the Gingerbread cookie and cake formulas I had found, turning it into a kid-friendly holiday table-snatch recipe as much as those quaint little gingerbread men (& women) are.
Now I love the flavor of gingerbread, especially in coffee, but I have never been a huge fan of the cookies. This is usually because they are always dry and either too bland or too overwhelming spicy, as if I poured an entire jar of powdered ginger and cinnamon in my mouth. ICK!!! If the original gingerbread formulas tend to be so consistently bad, how in the world then could I expect to translate a dry, dull cookie into a moist mini cake full of bold ginger flavor? Let me tell you it is a challenge but not impossible and totally worth it!!!
To start the Gingerbread makeover, something had to be added which could compliment the flavor of ginger without overwhelming it. I wanted a bold and spicy mini cake that wasn’t dried out and dusty on the palette. Step one is, surprisingly, to find a good stout. Reason is, stout provides a malty tang that compliments the molasses already in standard gingerbread formulas. I chose to use Weyerbacher Old Heather Imperial, which is a unique brand found at Whole Foods, but I recommend Guinness as well since it’s an affordable and widely available stout. Buy yourself a 6 pack and drink one (or a few) as a reward once you finish baking ;) If your against using alcohol, which I know many people out there are, you can substitute coffee for the stout although I don’t recommend it as it does impart a bitter flavor as opposed to the perfect compliment of the stout. Another substitute often used is orange juice but that is far too sour in my opinion… but hey if you don’t like alcohol and love to experiment then go ahead and try it. You may fancy it.
With the stout adding a complimentary flavor and much needed moisture to the cake, it was time to turn to the spicy portion of the formula. Too much powdered or ground spice will give an undesirable dusty texture I was trying to avoid at all costs. So I stuck to a reasonable amount of ground ginger for bite and a little cinnamon and allspice to support the ginger flavor. Without the abundance of ground ginger the flavor lacks. Using black pepper and blooming it with the other powdered spices helps draw out the ginger’s pleasant burn without having to increase the powdered spices further. An additional punch of ginger is added with some grated fresh ginger and viola ginger is back in gingerbread!!!
On to the frosting. I needed something simple and delicious that wouldn’t distract to heavily from the bold, spicy ginger flavor I worked so hard to achieve and was going to without a doubt make sure I maintained. Cheesecake came to mind and seemed to fit that bill with ease. Three ingredients and a bit of whipping provided me with the perfect Cheesecake frosting to pipe onto the gingerbread cupcakes. The formula produces approximately 24 cupcakes. Try them for the holidays. Even the gingerbread skeptic like myself will find them a delight!!!
Spicy Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cheesecake Frosting
- 2 ½ cups Cake Flour
- 2 tsp. Baking Powder
- ¾ tsp. Baking Soda
- ¾ tsp. Salt
- 16 tbsp. Unsalted Butter (2 sticks)
- 2 tbsp. Ground Ginger
- 2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
- 1 tsp. Ground Allspice
- ¼ tsp. Black Pepper, finely ground
- 4 Eggs, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups Sugar
- 4 tsp. Fresh Ginger, grated
- ¾ cup Molasses, Robust or Dark
- ¾ cup Stout Beer
- 1 pkg. Instant Cheesecake Flavored Pudding (small box)
- 1 pkg. Cool Whip
Gingerbread Cake Formula:
- Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat to 375°. Fill a cupcake/muffin tin with cupcake liners. Grease lightly with cooking spray. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat until bubbling. Stir in ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Whisk eggs, sugar, and fresh ginger in a large bowl until light and frothy. Stir in the melted butter/spice mixture, molasses, and stout until incorporated. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and whisk until no lumps remain.
- Pour the gingerbread batter into the prepared cupcake liners. Gently tap the pan on the counter to release any trapped air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean (a few clingy crumbs is perfect), about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Cheesecake Frosting Formula:
- Empty contents of instant Cheesecake Pudding mix into a medium bowl. Add half the amount of milk called for according to the package directions. Whip until the pudding thickens and begins to set, about two minutes. Gently fold in the container of cool whip. Fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and serve.
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY
RECIPE ADAPTED FROM ERIKA BRUCE
ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2012
It’s Friday!!! Time to wind down from the long week and what better way than to enjoy another fall favorite flavor. Besides Caramel, another favorite flavor of fall for myself is Pumpkin. I always looked forward to Pumpkin Pie on Thanksgiving as a kid and to this day I still crave it this time of year. But now that I am an adult, I like to experiment with the flavors I have always loved and deconstruct old favorites into new products. Today’s post is the result of a deconstructed Pumpkin Praline Pie translated into a cupcake.
The beauty of these cupcakes are they have the wonderful flavors of a Pumpkin Praline pie but are far easier to transport than the traditional pie and are easy for kids to swipe and run away with before you even knew they were in the kitchen. The base of the cupcake is rich in pumpkin flavor and accented by a great blend of spices. For the Pumpkin Pie Spice I chose a blend that contained China Cinnamon, Allspice, Nutmeg, Ginger, Mace, and Cloves. You can use any brand of Pumpkin Pie Spice but I really enjoy what this particular blend brings to the cupcakes and how it accurately brightens the pumpkin flavor without overpowering it. I would have the base flavor no other way.
To bring the Praline flavor to the cupcake without overshadowing the pumpkin flavor, which must always be the star of the show, I chose a very light and airy whipped topping like frosting called Chantilly Cream. I chose this not only to be a light and delicate way to introduce the praline flavor, but also keeping in mind that this is a deconstructed version of a pumpkin pie and how do most people top their pumpkin pies… with Cool Whip.
To make Chantilly Cream you simply whip cold heavy cream to stiff peaks then add any flavors you are wishing to achieve. For my flavoring, I chose Maple Syrup because it gives a nutty caramel flavor much like what is found in a Pumpkin Praline Pie. Now I know I often give short cut time saver tips but I really don’t suggest you ever use Cool Whip as a substitute to making Chantilly Cream yourself because there is no comparison to the homemade variety and since it is so simple and takes only a few minutes the stuff you buy prepared really doesn’t save much time and costs far more than standard cream and imparts a processed flavor which can overshadow your flavor additions and even the cake base itself. So no cheating with this one.
To round out the final flavors of the traditional Pumpkin Praline Pie and add an elegant finishing touch to the look of the cupcakes, I toasted and chopped a few pecans and garnished the Maple Chantilly Cream. After a slight traumatic incident involving a spooked cat, cut toe, and suicidal cupcake I had to clean off the floor, I was finally able to enjoy this fall masterpiece that had scented up my kitchen all morning. Let me tell you… the moist, tender pumpkin cake slathered with the light maple cream and crunchy pecan garnish was… truly…. delicious!!!
Maple Pumpkin Cupcakes
- 1 ½ cups (7.5 oz.) All-Purpose Flour
- 2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 1 tsp. Baking Powder
- 1 tsp. Baking Soda
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1 ¼ cups (8.75 oz.) Sugar
- 8 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted & cooled
- 3 Eggs
- 1 (15 oz.) can Unsweetened Pumpkin Puree
- 1 ½ cups Heavy Cream, chilled
- ¼ cup Maple Syrup
- ¼ cup Pecans, toasted & chopped
- Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat to 350°. Place cupcake liners in a cupcake pan and grease liners with cooking spray (You can use Halloween or Fall themed liners for added effect). Mix flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar, butter, and eggs on medium-high until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Reduce the speed to low and add the pumpkin, mixing until incorporated. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 30 seconds. A few small streaks of flour may remain which is okay.
- Place the batter in a measuring cup for easing pouring and fill each cupcake liner ¾ full. Bake about 12-15 minutes. Let cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes from the pan and allow to cool completely on the wire rack.
- Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, use a stand mixer or hand mixer fitted with the whip attachment and beat the cream and maple syrup together on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. If you are old school you can also use a whisk and whip the cream by hand for the same results minus a sore arm ;)
- Fill a piping bag fitted with a large star tip with the Maple Chantilly Cream and pipe in a circular motion on the top of the cooled cupcakes. Finish cupcakes with a sprinkle of pecans. Serve. Store any leftovers in refrigerator up to three days.
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY
ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2012
Happy Tuesday everyone. Sorry for the momentary disappearance from my blogging recently but I have just acquired a new job and have been dedicated to learning my training. Let me tell you it took too much out of me and whenever I would come home it was way too much to even think about looking at a computer screen, let alone writing all night. So on my day off, my gift to you is a post on Pumpkin Spice cupcakes. My mood was feeling simplistic and this is the result. It probably would have been better to post this around Halloween or Thanksgiving perhaps…well at least the fall season, but of course me the procrastinator waited until almost Spring! Oh well, as the saying goes better late then never.
So to start these simple Pumpkin inspired cupcakes, you can do one of two things based upon your skill level or your alotted time needed. You can either make the cupcake batter from scratch or you can buy a boxed spice cake mix and build on it from there. I suggest for the best results to make the batter from scratch but as always sometimes we have short notices and we all have lives and it is often hard to spare enough time for kitchen matters. Completely understandable. Regardless they will turn out delicious, impressive, and best of all… simple. If you choose to make the spice cake batter from scratch you will need a handful of spices on hand. For the most important spice, Cinnamon, I chose to use a certain variety for in this formula.
Although it is not required that you use China Cassia or Ceylon Cinnamon as I did, I do recommend using either as it does add an exoticism to the flavor of the cupcake. Some of the other spices you will need is Allspice, Nutmeg, Ginger, Mace, and Cloves. This combination of spices provides a perfect compliment to the Pumpkin and gives rich flavor to the cupcakes without overpowering the pumpkin flavor, only enhancing. Keeping in mind not to overpower the pumpkin or spice flavoring of the cake itself, I chose a Simple Buttercream formula for the frosting, flavored only with a hint of vanilla as not to detract from the cake but rather enhance it with a smooth creaminess up top. With the theme of pumpkin in mind, the frosting is tinted orange. For this I used Wilton’s Orange dye to achieve a light pastel orange that remains soft and elegant on the eye. You don’t want it to be the actual color of the pumpkin which is much darker and brighter as it will take away from the sheer elegance and look more like a store bought kid’s party cupcake, which is fine for your child’s birthday but for this particular formula we want adult, classy cupcakes here :) One the pastel orange color is mixed, grab your decorator’s bag and a star tip (I used #843). You can choose to decorate the tops in any way that you wish however. I have provided you two simple examples. The first and perhaps easiest is simply piping the typical swirl topping around the entire surface of the cupcake. I did two sweeps around to give height to the cupcake then topped it with some prepared nut topping anyone can find in your local supermarket near the packaged nuts of your baking aisle or near the ice cream toppings. The other option is to use a small star tip and gently press down and lift to create mini stars across the entire surface of the cupcake. These look fancy but are extremely simple to create. I suggest you do some of both to add contrast to your presentation. Now for those who do not like pumpkin, you can also leave out the pumpkin puree and solely have a spice cake. Both are delicious!!!
Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
- 1 box Spice Cake Mix or the following…
- 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 tsp. Baking Soda
- 1 tsp. Baking Powder
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1 tsp. Ginger
- ¼ tsp. Allspice
- ¼ tsp. Nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. Cloves
- 1/8 tsp. Mace
- 1 cup Light Brown Sugar
- 1 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened/room temperature
- 4 Eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 (15 oz.) can Pumpkin Puree
- Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 350°. Line two 12-count cupcake pans with paper liners. Grease lightly with cooking spray. In a bowl, either prepare the spice cake mix according to package directions, stopping before proceeding to the step asking you to fill the cupcake tin with batter…or sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and mace together.
- In another bowl, mix together the sugars, butter, and eggs. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. If using the homemade version or the box mix, be sure to add the pumpkin puree now. If making a spice cake without pumpkin, proceed to step 3. Whisk in the pumpkin puree until combined and smooth.
- Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, filling each no more than halfway. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, being sure to rotate the pans halfway through the baking time. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Prepare the buttercream frosting.
- ½ cup Vegetable Shortening
- ½ cup (1 stick) Butter, softened
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 4 cups Confectioner’s Sugar, sifted
- 2 tbsp. Milk
- In a bowl, cream the shortening and butter together until smooth. Add vanilla. Gradually add the sifted Confectioners’ sugar until all sugar is added and combined. The mixture will appear dry. Add milk and whisk well until smooth and creamy. Add a few drops of orange food color until desired pastel color is achieved.
- Fill a piping bag fitted with a large or small star tip. Pipe along the top of the cooled pumpkin spice cupcakes in a circular motion, building up a round height or gently press down and gently pull up and away creating mini stars all across the surface. If not piping the mini stars, sprinkle some nut topping or your favorite chopped nuts on top. Serve.
Special Thanks To:
Peter Mendoros – Photography
All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2012