Thursday, January 22, 2009

Iron Cupcake Challenge: Sabayon Cupcakes

This month's main ingredient was a big challenge for me.   I love the idea of a glass of wine while having a romantic dinner, cooking, socializing with friends and family, or just to kick back and relax.  I have tried on many occasions, but unfortunately I just do not have a
palate for more than half a glass.  

However, I do have numerous family and friends who are wine connoisseurs.  When this challenge was given, I asked for help, and I received many great ideas.  I hope to one day try them all.

But for Iron Cupcake Earth I  decided to make a sabayon cupcake.  Sabayon is a French dessert of fresh fruits topped with a wine custard.  I found many recipes which used different wines from reds to whites from dry to sweet and even champagne.  That's when I chose to incorporate the white wine, gewurtraminer, from Pelee Island Winery served at my wedding.  It is  excellent with fruits, cheeses, chicken, seafood, spicy foods, and Asian cuisine.  It's a bit on the sweeter side (that is probably why I love this wine) and can be considered an apertif (I did my research).  It is perfect for the sabayon I had in mind.

I made two sets of vanilla cupcakes topped with fresh berries and the custard.  One set to be toasted lightly and another just as is.  The cupcakes were wonderfully delicious and fresh.  They will be a favorite of my family for many years to come.  

Recipe for Sabayon Cupcakes:

Vanilla Cupcakes  (makes 12)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup milk

Sabayon Custard:
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup wine
1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 cup of fresh fruits in small pieces (I used strawberries and blueberries)
1 tablespoon sugar
splash lemon juice

Toasted Sabayon Cupcake along side a Sabayon Cupcake


To prepare cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare cupcake pans.
2. In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs in at a time until well incorporated. Stir in vanilla.
3. Combine flour and baking powder.  Add slowly to the creamed mixture until well blended.  Stir in milk until the batter is smooth.
4. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes. 
5.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare fruit in cupcake:
1. Mix fruits with lemon juice and sugar.  Set aside for a few minutes.
2. Carve a cone shape hole out of each cupcakes and spoon fruits into the cupcakes.
3. Let sit while making the sabayon.  This will allow the juices from the fruits to be absorbed by the cupcakes.

To prepare sabayon:
1. Put the egg yolks, sugar, and wine into a medium heat proof glass bowl.  Whisk to mix.
2. Place the bowl on a double boiler over simmering water.  Do not let the water touch the bowl, otherwise, the eggs will cook and scramble.
3.  Whisk the mixture until it is frothy, pale, and ribbony (about 12-15 minutes).
4.  Remove from heat, and whisk in the lemon zest.  keep whisking for a minute or two to cool the custard slightly.
5.  Spoon sabayon over the fruits and cupcakes.  If you prefer, with the oven boiler or a kitchen torch, quickly brown the sabayon.
6.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

Okay, now for the technical side of the challenge (it is a competition after all).  The prizes from our sponsors include:

* An Etsy Prize-Pack from artists:
   - Dogbone Art  
   - Cakespy
* An elegant Jessie Steele Apron
* A cupcake courier from Cupcake Courier
* An added bonus for January, a treat from Sweet Cuppin Cakes Bakery and Cupcakery Supply
* Iron Cupcake Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers.

Thanks for visiting this post.  Now go out there and vote!  :D

Friday, January 16, 2009

Jessica's Killer Chocolate Birthday Cheesecake

I know it's a little late, but HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!

I'm going to make 2009's first post a really yummy one. My baby sister is officially an adult in Canada. She can smoke, drink, gamble, and vote legally now. I hope she doesn't do all that at once.

I usually make her birthday cakes, and this year was no different. However, she didn't want the usual cake with Happy Birthday plastered all over it. She wanted something extremely decadent and grown up to share with her friends. After going through several options with her, we decided on a chocolate cheesecake. It was up to me to make it WOW.

I hadn't made a cheesecake in over 10 years since my hubby's specialty is cheesecake (he uses the Philly Cream Cheese recipe, and calls it his own after he smothers it with fruit topping - lol). Even though D's recipe is pretty good, I knew Jess wanted something more. So I searched through all my recipes and found three that I liked. I ended up mixing these recipes and got one heck of a killer cheesecake. I thought I'd share with all of you, and hopefully you'll have the same response. Enjoy!

Jessica's Killer Chocolate Birthday Cheesecake

5 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1 cup sugar
2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
pinch of salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 pound dark chocolate, chopped finely
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 pound dark chocolate, chopped finely
Fresh Clean Strawberries
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup chopped toasted nuts (I used pecans)
Melted white chocolate

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Melt butter. In medium bowl, combine graham crackers, 1/4 cup sugar, and butter. Mix well, and pour into a 9" springform pan. Press weill into pan. Bake until set about 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
3. To make the ganache, place 1/2 pound of dark chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Heat 1/2 cup of heavy cream in sauce pan. Remove from heat as soon as it starts to bubble and boil. Pour into dark chocolate and let it sit for about 2-3 minutes. Stir until ganache is smooth.
4. Reduce oven to 275 degrees F.
5. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add remaining sugar and beat until well combined (about 3 minutes).
6. Add ganache to the cheese and mix on slow speed until well blended. Scrape down the sides as needed.
7. Drizzle in eggs one at a time and mix until blended. Beat in sour cream and salt. Scrape down sides and mix until well blended.
8. Pour batter into crust and bake until the sides have set but the center appears soft (about 1 hour and 45 minutes).
9. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Using a knife, run around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. When completely cooled, cover cake tightly with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. Let the cake set for at least 4 hours, preferably over night. This allows the flavors to come out.
10. Deck out the cake. I made another batch of ganache which I first dipped the strawberries in before pouring the rest on top of the cake. I mixed the chopped nuts with the mini chocolate chips and pressed the mixture onto the sides of the cake. Topped the cake with the strawberries and drizzled melted white chocolate with a fork all around.
11. Slice cake and serve. YUM YUM YUM! It gives 12 very generous portions.

* Note: this cheesecake is beautiful and delicious as is and can be served without all the "fussy" decor. It can also be made as a plain cheesecake, by leaving out the ganache in the batter and substituting it with a teaspoon of vanilla. Or made as any other cheesecake by substituting the flavoring. It's a versitile recipe!