Red Velvet Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting55

Posted by chockylit in Chocolate,Science Experiment (Sunday October 2, 2005 at 4:38 pm)

I compared about 8 existing recipes for red velvet cake and found the following:

  • some are vanilla cakes with red food coloring and most are chocolate with red food coloring
  • all of the chocolate red velvet recipes use cocoa as opposed to melted chocolate and most have very little cocoa in them (probably to maintain the red coloring)
  • most use cake flour
  • some use oil and some butter
  • all use buttermilk, vinegar and red food coloring
  • as far as chemical leaveners go, some use baking powder (acidic and akaline components), most baking soda (alkaline), and two use both (more on chemical leaveners below)
  • all have the usual suspects in similar quantities: sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla

For my first attempt I decided to go with

  • cake flour for delicate crumb
  • cocoa for a chocolaty taste
  • butter for better flavor
  • a base batch, divided into three to test variation in chemical leaveners (resulting recipe is for what I deemed the best option)

I made a 1-1/2 batch so I would yield 36 cupcakes as opposed to the usual 24.

The result… well, the cupcakes tasted fine, had a nice texture, but were rather plain (were it not for the frosting). The cocoa taste was not discernable and I recommend increasing the quantity in the recipe. If I were to test the recipe again, I would increase the cocoa by 50% and 100% and check the results. I doubt I will test it again, however, as the novelty of red batter isn’t interesting enough to distract me from other recipes I want to try.

makes 36 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3-3/4 cups cake flour
1/4 cups cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder or 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
3/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
3 teaspoons vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 ounce red food coloring paste
2-1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups butter
3 eggs

  1. preheat oven to 350°F
  2. sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder (or cream of tarter), and salt into medium bowl
  3. whisk buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and food coloring in small bowl to blend
  4. beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well fluffy, 3 minutes
  5. add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition, about 30 seconds
  6. beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions
  7. scoop into cupcake tins
  8. bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes
  9. cool in pans 10 minutes
  10. cool completely on racks

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

12 ounces or 1-1/2 packages of Philly cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
4-5 cups sifted powdered sugar
seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. bring cheese and butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours
  2. sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto parchment
  3. beat butter and cheese at medium speed until creamy
  4. add 4 cups of the sugar and beat until combined
  5. add vanillas and beat until combined
  6. add more sugar until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like

Pastillage Shapes

1 packages gelatin
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
~5 cups powdered sugar

  1. prepare a clean work surface by spraying with water and then covering in a bit of powdered sugar
  2. in a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over the water and let sit for 3 minutes
  3. add corn syrup and stir to combine, heat over medium heat stirring constantly until gelatin is dissolved, about 12 minutes
  4. add 3 cups of the powdered sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer
  5. at lowest setting, drizzle in all of the heated mixture
  6. increase speed of mixer to combine
  7. start to add more powdered sugar until the mixture gets stiff
  8. you will need to transfer to the prepared work surface to finish needing by hand, you may also choose to need in powdered food coloring
  9. add sugar or water as needed to get a smooth consistency, its like needing pasta dough – you want a similar consistency
  10. once it is nice and smooth, divide it up for as much as you need and wrap the remainder in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container for up to 12 months
  11. scrape down work surface for rolling, dust surface and rolling pin with corn starch, roll out pastillage as thin as you can get it
  12. cut out shapes with whatever small cutters you have
  13. set aside on parchment to dry

This will make a lot of pastillage, I used 1/4 of it to make more than enough shapes for 36 cupcakes. Given it lasts so long, doesn’t hurt to have extra. A note on coloring, needing in powdered food coloring gives a nice matt look or you can paint it on for some variation in color.


  1. pipe a swirl of cream cheese frosting on each cooled cupcake
  2. top with a pastillage shape

Chemical Leaveners and Anthocyanins
Occasionally the chemical engineer in me rears its nerdy head, like it did this weekend. I got to thinking about the baking soda versus powder versus both and was led down a trail past anthocyanins and essentially to the question of how does pH effect the end product.

Chemical leaveners when used correctly react with other compounds to release carbon dioxide gas which will cause the cake to rise. They are often “double acting” – would say so on the packaging – meaning they react when added to the batter and release some gas bubbles, then there is a second reaction later on which cause the release gas bubbles to expand.

* Baking soda is alkaline and requires acidic compounds to react with it. These can be yogurt or sour milk.
* Baking powder contains baking soda and acidic salt crystals. It basically contains what it needs to cause the chemical reaction and produce carbon dioxide.

In the case of this recipe, there is buttermilk and vinegar (both acidic) which will react the baking soda. Baking powder should not be necessary – in theory. There are also theories that the acidic compounds react with cocoa (or the anthocyanins in cocoa) to turn the batter reddish-brown, but I read here that it is a scientific myth.

I looked into anthocyanins and indeed they do need an acidic environment to be red, but I was tending to agree with the first article that there aren’t enough of them in the chocolate for it to really matter. I looked into it some. This article says that quantities are “high” in green tea and chocolate, which this article confirms, but it also adds that processing causes the anthocyanins to convert to quinones which then further react and result in brown-colored compounds. So, I suspected that any change in pH wouldn’t really make a difference in color, plus I was planning on adding food coloring.

So, I started with a base batter with just baking soda and then divided it into three and added baking powder to one and cream of tarter to the other (note: cream of tarter (acid) + baking soda can be used a substitute for baking powder).

baking soda only

baking soda and cream of tarter

baking soda and baking powder

The baking soda-only batch definitely looked the worst, but there wasn’t a noticeable taste or color difference amongst the three. The other two versions were pretty darn close, hence why I suggested baking powder or cream of tarter. In theory, you could use baking powder only, but I didn’t test that option.

Blackberry, Lemon, Vanilla Cupcakes21

Posted by chockylit in Berries,Citrus,Vanilla (Wednesday July 27, 2011 at 9:17 pm)

blackberry lemon cupcake

Summer equals berries in this house. Even if summer also equals fog. (There is something refreshing about walking to work in a cool drizzle in July.) The three of us go through containers of blackberries on a regular basis – we heart blackberries. I was itching to mash some up and make a cupcake out of them. But things are hectic these days and I was having trouble committing. I think I purchased one or two ingredients every shopping trip over two weeks until finally on the way home Tuesday night I stopped at the corner store and thought, “I will see if they have lemons and blackberries”. And they did! Organic, too!

But was fear of rotting fruit going to be enough to get me out of my cupcake funk? I walked the ingredients home with wavering intentions… it was already getting late, I had dinner to cook, work to do, a child to hug! But I new if I got the ingredients measured out, I could get them done in no time.

Ok, maybe it wasn’t that easy (I woke up early to finish them), but they got done and they were yummy! With this combo you can’t go wrong. I like the creaminess of the curd and the looseness of the blackberry mash (I didn’t want to thicken it with too much starch). It made the cupcakes messy, but I just asked everyone to eat them with a spoon. No one seemed to mind.

Vanilla Cupcakes
12 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
5. Measure out milk and vanilla together.
6. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
7. Add about one third the milk/vanilla mixture and beat until combined.
8. Repeat above, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture.
9. Scoop into cupcake papers about half to three-quarters full.
10. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Return the cupcake top

Lemon Curd

2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons powdered sugar

1. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and lemon juice in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes.
2. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in butter, piece by piece. Cover with plastic wrap, and cool in the refrigerator.
3. By hand, whip together cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form.
4. Fold cream into the chilled curd.

Add lemon curd

Blackberry Mash

6 ounce blackberries
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
seeds from 1/4 vanilla bean

1. Heat blackberries, water, and sugar over medium heat until boiling.
2. Mash with a potato masher.
3. Add cornstarch and vanilla bean and cook for a few minutes until thick.
4. Remove from heat and cool.

Cupcake is filled and looking yummy

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces or 1 package of Philly cream cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2-3 cups sifted powdered sugar
seeds from 1/4 of a vanilla bean
vanilla extract to taste

1. Bring cheese and butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours
2. Beat butter until soft and creamy.
3. Add cream cheese and beat until combined.
4. Add half of the sugar and the vanilla bean. Beat until creamy.
5. Gradually add remaining sugar (more if you have to) until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like.
6. Add vanilla extract to taste if the seeds aren’t enough adding in 1/2 teaspoon increments.

1. Fill the cupcakes with the lemon curd and blackberry mash using the cone method. This post has step by step photos of the method.
2. Frost.
3. Top with a blackberry.

blackberry lemon cupcake

3 Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Sea Salt36

Posted by in Simple Recipe,Step-by-Step Photos,Vanilla (Saturday April 19, 2008 at 8:33 pm)

3 vanilla cupcakes with vanilla sea salt

One of my most favorite places to discover unique ingredients and find inspiration for my latest creation is Boulettes Larder. My recent visit turned up the very special sea salt used to garnish these cupcakes and a very delicious pasta dish that was well worth the 18 dollar Tuesday lunch splurge.

The vanilla cupcake recipe is a make-up for my bookkeeping mishap of this post. It’s close to the same recipe, slightly altered and I amped it up with more vanilla. The recipe contains vanilla in 3 forms – vanilla extract, vanilla sugar, and vanilla bean. Why 3 forms? Why not.

As you may recall, I did a side by side comparison of Martha’s and Amy’s vanilla cupcakes for this post. The end results of these two recipes are two very different vanilla cupcakes. One tastes better and has a more delicate texture (Amy’s) but is more difficult to execute. The other is fail safe, but dense and not as tasty.

I am looking to come up somewhere in the middle, but leaning towards the tasty/delicate end of the spectrum. I have also tested Magnolia’s recipe and Claire Crespo’s vanilla cupcake recipe. Based on my recollection and comparison of the recipes, Martha’s is the most dense/fail proof, Magnolia’s comes next (note: Billy’s is pretty much the same as Magnolia’s minus a few tweaks), then Claire’s, then Amy’s.

I, of course, am trying to come up with my own version… My goal is to be as close to the texture & taste of Amy’s, but without the execution challenges. So, the recipe below is probably the second or third try and I still have some work. This version is probably between Magnolia’s and Claire’s, but I want to be somewhere between Claire’s and Amy’s. Whew… That was likely confusing.

The vanilla sea salt is a nice touch. If you can’t find it, just find some high quality sea salt, and mix it with some vanilla bean seeds. The Chef at Boulettes gave me the low down as to where this salt came from – Anglesey, Wales – and how its made. Its made by a family on the beach by evaporating sea water in stainless steel vats. The sea salt is then stored with Tahitian vanilla bean in clay pots. Sounds nice…

vanilla sea salt
vanilla sea salt

Vanilla Sugar

1 vanilla bean, split
1 pound sugar

1. Split the vanilla bean but don’t scrape out the seeds. Put it with the sugar in an airtight container. Store in a cupboard for around 5 days or more. Shake it up once in a while.

splitting vanilla bean
splitting the bean

3 Vanilla Cupcakes
20 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3/4 cup (1-1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-2/3 cups vanilla sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2-2/3 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

1. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
3. Measure the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine.
5. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
6. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 2/3’s full. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake cupcakes for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

scraping vanilla seeds
scraping the seeds

Vanilla Bean Frosting

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 package (8 ounces) philly cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
-4-5 cups powdered sugar

1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy.
2. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.
3. Add the vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and 3 cups of powdered sugar and beat at low speed, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar to arrive at the consistency and sweetness you like.

1. Frost each cooled cupcake with a healthy mound of frosting.
2. Top with vanilla seat salt or whatever you so desire.

filling frosting bag
filling the bag

frosting the cupcakes

I should mention… You should actually save the vanilla beans you scrape the beans out of and also use those to make vanilla sugar or reuse in some way as there is likely a lot of life left in them. Reminded by this post

Pine Nut and Candied Orange Peel Cupcakes with Christmas Spice Buttercream Frosting13

Posted by in Citrus,Experimental Recipe,Italian-Inspired,Seeds,Spices (Wednesday December 19, 2007 at 2:35 pm)

pine nut and candied orange peel cupcake with christmas spice buttercream

I will be frank. I am not a fan of pine nuts. They fell out of favor with me back in the 90’s or whenever it was that every restaurant was serving them in their dishes. They are new to my husband however and, go figure, he likes them. So, when he rushed off to be with family leaving me with a container of pine nuts that were bound to spoil, I thought, “time for pine nut cupcakes.”

The pine nut idea morphed quickly and easily into an Italian-style fruit cake concept. I started and ended with candied orange peel. I was so close to throwing in some more dried or candied fruits, but feared venturing too far into fruit cake territory. I am also not a fan of fruit cake. The resulting was interesting. Its hard for me to be objective here as the cake tasted very pine nutty and like I said… don’t like ‘em. Anyway, husband returned and he gave them his seal of approval. So, if you or someone you know likes pine nuts, give the recipe a try.

I topped them with a small amount of very spicy buttercream. I liked the buttercream very much. While sweet and intense in flavor , it definitely said “holidays” to me.

Well, the Porro family is traveling over the holidays. I will be baking cupcakes at my destination, but I am not sure if I will be posting. Never the less, you will see me back in the new year with more cupcake recipes and a follow up frosting post (hopefully with video)!

Happy New Year!

~15 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3/4 cup pine nuts
1 stick butter, unsalted/room temp
1/4 light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs, large/room temp
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup candied orange peel, roughly chopped (see below)

1. Toast pine nuts at 350 for 7 minutes. Grind pine nuts with in a food processor. I removed some of the nuts (about 1/4) while they were still chunky then ground the rest up a bit more. Pine nuts are oily so they never get very fine and they will start to clump up.
2. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
3. Add the brown sugar and regular sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
4. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated.
5. Add the ground pine nuts. Beat to combine.
6. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
7. Measure out orange juice and vanilla together.
8. Add about a third of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
9. Add all of the juice/vanilla mixture and beat until combined.
10. Add another third of the flour mixture and beat to combine.
11. Add the ricotta cheese and beat to combine.
12. Add the rest of the flour and beat to combine. Mix in the orange peel.
13. Scoop into cupcake papers about three-quarters full. Note that these cupcakes will shrink slightly when they cool.
14. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Christmas Spice Buttercream

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground clove

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Sift sugar into the butter. Add vanilla and spices and beat to combine.
3. Add more powdered sugar to arrive at the consistency and sweetness you like. 2 cups worked for me.

Note: This is a very spicy buttercream. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you add half the amount of spices to start with. I liked its holiday flavor-intensity.

christmas spice mix

1. Top cooled cupcakes with the frosting.
2. Top with a decoration, chopped orange peel, or whatever you have.

Candied Orange Peel
Why reinvent the wheel? Nic over at the Baking Sheet has already gone and posted a recipe for candied orange peel. I have used this recipe in the past and used it again this time around.

candied orange peel
tossing peel in sugar

Cashew, Carrot, Cardamom Cupcakes with Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting23

Posted by in Carrots,Indian-Inspired,Nuts,Spices (Sunday October 21, 2007 at 4:47 pm)

cashew, carrot, cardamom cupcakes with cashew cream cheese frosting

This recipe is inspired by a delicious dessert I had when I was last in India. I actually didn’t know the name of the dessert, but I described it to my coworker and she informed me that what I had was Gajar Halwa or carrot pudding. I considered two preparations, one where I made the pudding and stuffed cupcakes with it and the second where I made the pudding and put it directly in to the batter. I opted for the second, simpler preparation. We were having an amazing weekend in San Francisco and I didn’t want to spend it all indoors.

These cupcakes are delicious and completely edible (meaning I could eat and eat them). The cake is much like a typical carrot cake, but mellower. Otherwise, it is just as moist and very flavorful with the crunch of the cashews and slight spiciness of the cardamom. The frosting is scrumptious. I am a fan of cashews and I am very happy with how this recipe came out – creamy, not too sweet, slightly tangy, and very “cashewy”. Together the cake and frosting result in a perfect mid-morning or afternoon treat – satisfying without overwhelming.

makes 30 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1 pound carrots
2 tablespoons clarified butter or ghee
1/2 cup water
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon cardamom pods
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup cashews, chopped

1. Peel, rinse, and grate the carrots with a fine grater.
2. Sauté the carrots in clarified butter for 3 minutes. Add the water, bring to boil, cover and simmer for 3 minutes.
3. Remove the lid. Stir to cook off any remaining water.
4. Add the milk and cardamom pods. Simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
5. Add 1/2 cup of sugar and stir to dissolve. Simmer for 5 more minutes. You could stop here and have some yummy pudding to eat with vanilla ice cream.
6. Remove of the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. I spread the mixture on a sheet pan so it would cool faster. Remove cardamom pods.
7. In a large bowl, mix together the cooled, cooked carrot mixture, eggs, vanilla, 1-1/2 cups sugar, vegetable oil, and milk.
8. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom.
9. Stir the flour mixture into the carrot mixture. Continue to stir until combined.
10. Add the chopped cashews and stir to combine.
11. Scoop out into cupcake papers about 2/3s full. This will give you a nice dome that won’t overflow, so long as your oven is hot enough.
12. Bake at 350 degree oven for ~25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

cardamom and cashews
cardamom and cashews

Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup cashews
2-3 tablespoons vegetable or nut oil
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, room temperature
8 ounces or 1 package of Philly cream cheese
3-4 cups powdered sugar

1. Grind the cashews for a few pulses in a food processor to break them up.
2. Add two tablespoons of oil and continue to pulse until the nuts start to get creamy. Add more oil, 1 teaspoon or so at a time, until you get to a creamy consistency like chunky peanut butter.
3. Beat the butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy. Add the cashew butter and beat to combine. Scrape the bowl.
4. Sift 3 cups of the powdered sugar into the bowl. Beat to combine.
4. Add more sugar until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like.

Note: If you add too much sugar and the frosting gets too thick, simply add a tablespoon or so of milk to soften it up.

1. Frost the cooled cupcakes.
2. Garnish with a cashew or candied carrot.

ready for transport
ready for transport

Blueberry & Raspberry Ricotta Almond Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting60

Posted by chockylit in Berries,Cheese,Italian-Inspired,Nuts (Sunday May 20, 2007 at 12:42 pm)

blueberry ricotta almond cupcake with cream cheese frosting

It was bound to happen. Can’t be pregnant, be a cupcake baker, and not make pink and blue cupcakes, right? I made these for the last day of birthing class. We have a snack break every class and it’s always filled with healthy savory treats. So, while I was bringing cupcakes, I wanted to make them relatively “healthy” (without sacrificing taste, of course).

This recipe is a slight variation from one I made a while back. I wanted to try using fresh almonds (hooray for vitamin E and “good” fat) instead of almond paste. The resulting cake was good, but not “almondy” enough. Next time around I would add a half teaspoon of almond extract. I actually really liked the grainy texture that the ground almonds added. But if this sounds unappealing to you, stick to the almond paste (or really grind the hell out of your almonds). As with the last recipe, this one turned out very moist. I could see these standing up to a few days of refrigeration.

I figured between the almonds, the berries, the eggs, the ricotta, and the cream cheese, I ended up with a fairly balanced treat. Fruits, healthy fats, protein, etc. to counter the heavy dose of sugar (yum, sugar). But to keep myself honest, I used my copy of Accuchef software to calculate the nutritional value. Scroll to the very end if you are curious, but perhaps some things are better left unknown…

On a side note, I have had to turn on comment moderation for the time being. So while it may seem like your comment has been posted, it will not show up on the blog until I approve it. This will hopefully be temporary. If anyone has any questions about this, feel free to email me directly.

~15 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

4 ounces almonds, slivered/peeled
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 stick butter, unsalted/room temp
4 eggs, large/room temp
2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blueberries

1. Grind almonds with 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor until very fine. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer.
2. Gradually add the remaining 1 cup of sugar to the ground almonds while beating at low speed.
3. Add the ricotta and beat to combine.
4. While beating at low speed, add a tablespoon of butter at a time, waiting for the butter to incorporate until adding the next pat. The butter must be at room temperature or it will not incorporate well.
5. Stop the mixer, scrape the bowl, then beat at medium for about 2 minutes.
6. Crack eggs into a bowl and break up with a fork. At low speed gradually add eggs about a tablespoon at a time, waiting for the eggs to incorporate until adding the next bit.
7. Beat again at medium speed for about 2 minutes.
8. Measure out flour, salt, and baking powder into a bowl and whisk to combine.
9. With a rubber spatula, fold flour mixture into the cake batter until combined.
10. Wash and dry the berries. Toss with a small amount of flour. This will help keep the berries from sinking.
11. Fold berries into the batter.
12. Scoop batter into cupcake liners, about 2/3s full.
13. Bake at 350 for about ~25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean

Note: I wanted “pink” and “blue” cupcakes so I divided the batter in two and added blueberries to one and raspberries to the other. You could do this, mix the berries, or even use different fruit.

blueberry ricotta almond cupcakes cooling
cooling cupcakes

Cream Cheese Frosting

12 ounces or 1-1/2 packages of Philly cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
4-5 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Bring butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours.
2. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto parchment.
3. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
4. Add 4 cups of the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until combined.
5. Add more sugar until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like.

1. Frost cupcakes.
2. Top with a candy decoration, berries, or slivered almonds.

Note: I kneaded store-bought white fondant with gel food coloring, rolled out with a little corn starch to prevent sticking, and stamped out small shapes to top the cupcakes.

blueberry & raspberry ricotta almond cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Approximate Nutritional Value per Serving

Without frosting
Per Serving: 216 Cal (50% from Fat, 9% from Protein, 41% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 12 g Tot Fat; 5 g Sat Fat; 5 g Mono Fat; 23 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 16 g Sugar; 51 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 78 mg Sodium; 84 mg Cholesterol

With frosting
Per Serving: 478 Cal (43% from Fat, 6% from Protein, 52% from Carb); 7 g Protein; 23 g Tot Fat; 12 g Sat Fat; 8 g Mono Fat; 63 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 56 g Sugar; 70 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 167 mg Sodium; 117 mg Cholesterol

Jackfruit, Banana, and Peanut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting24

cupcakes topped with chopped peanuts and salt

I have heard of Jackfruit. After all, I do live in San Francisco and get exposed to a variety of “exotic” ingredients. This was, however, my first time tasting it and to be honest, I am not sure how to describe it. I am told that I need to try the real (fresh) jackfruit as opposed to canned (canned was admittedly what I had on hand), but have also been warned of the amount of work it involves to wrangle one into submission. I have since learned that many Asian grocery stores sell manageable chunks of fresh jackfriut, so I wouldn’t have to commit to a large whole one.

So, while I can’t easily compare jackfruit to something familiar to the US palate, I will describe the resulting cupcakes as tasty starting off with a hint of banana then rounding out with a jackfruit or “tropical” flavor. They are dense and muffin-like with definite chew and crunch. The cake could be lightened up some by cutting back some on the jackfruit and peanuts.

20 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces canned jackfruit, drained and chopped
2 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped

1. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and sugar in a medium sized bowl.
2. In a separate medium sized bowl bowl, beat eggs to break up.
3. Add oil, coconut milk, and vanilla to the eggs and mix to combine.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mix to combine.
5. Add jackfruit, mashed bananas, and peanuts to the rest of the ingredients and mix to combine.
6. Scoop into cupcake papers about 2/3s full with an ice cream scooper.
7. Bake at 350 degree oven for ~25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

jackfruit and banana
jackfruit & banana

Cream Cheese Frosting

12 ounces or 1-1/2 packages of Philly cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
4-5 cups sifted powdered sugar

1. Bring butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours.
2. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto parchment.
3. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
4. Add 4 cups of the powdered sugar and beat until combined.
5. Add more sugar until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like

1. Frost cupcakes.
2. Chop some unsalted peanuts with salt.
2. Sprinkle peanuts on top of cupcakes

jackfruit, banana, and peanut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

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