Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Fresh Raspberry Cupcakes...

Even though Valentine's Day falls on Sunday this year, I thought it would be a nice surprise to tie it into this week's Wednesday Treat Day. I was very tempted to make those fancy sugar cookies we made last year because they were fun to make, but we decided to delve into the cake department this time and make these Fresh Raspberry Cupcakes with Pink Buttercream.

With several steps to get these cupcakes together, I needed to set aside a good chunk of time to get them done from start to finish. The fluffy, smooth batter for the cupcakes is a bit of a process, between working in all of the eggs and alternating the dry ingredients with a combo of milk and vanilla, but as tedious as it was, the resulting cupcakes were spot on. Thanks to cutting the all-purpose flour with almost an even amount of cake flour, the crumb of the baked cupcakes was tightly woven together, moist and very tender.

The raspberries are worked into the cupcakes two ways - half of them are coarsely chopped, giving you bits of freshness in each bite. The other half, however, is pureed smooth, adding intensity, moisture and a light pink hue to the batter. The recipe may have stated a yield of 24 cupcakes, but by the time I had half of my 24-cup baking tin (we picked one up at a restaurant supply store a year or so ago) full, my mixing bowl was still darn full of batter! Filling that tin up, I was still able to scoop out 12 more cupcakes-worth of batter for a surprise total of 36.

Our oven isn't nearly that big, so I stashed the smaller 12-cup tin in the refrigerator while the first batch was in the oven. The second batch baked just as well, with maybe an extra minute or two in the oven since the batter was chilled. If you happen to have a large ice cream scoop handy, use that to deliver the batter into the pans - it makes for a fairly mess-free system. When they have baked, set the baking tin on a rack for no more than 5 minutes or so - leaving them in for much longer creates a steamy environment, toughening the bottom of the cupcakes. If you don't want that many cupcakes, you could always try to pare the recipe down for fewer cupcakes or bake the leftover batter in a loaf or cake pan instead.

The silky buttercream used to adorn the tops of the cupcakes is admittedly more fussy than your average confectioners' sugar based frosting as you have to bring the sugar and egg whites together over a pan of simmering water. This brings the egg whites up to a high enough temperature, jumping them into the safe zone without turning the eggs into a scrambled mess. This means there in no concern with "raw" egg whites - you also get the benefit of melting the grainy sugar granules, adding to the luscious texture without being tooth-achingly sweet. To add to the Valentine's theme, a few drops of red gel-paste coloring at the end turns the milky-white frosting a rosy shade of pink (sorry, I realize it doesn't look so pink in the pictures... I don't know why that is!).

If that wasn't enough, we had one more trick up our sleeves to set on the lavish pile of buttercream. We poured melted bittersweet chocolate into one of our pastry bags (fitted with a smaller round tip) and pipped out an array of hearts onto a piece of parchment paper. You can go as light or heavy as you want - just do an outline, make squiggles on the inside (a la filigree) or make a solid chocolate heart. If you have trouble doing this free-hand, turn the paper over and trace hearts on the backside using a heart-shaped cookie cutter as a template. To speed up setting of the chocolate, set them into the freezer for just a few minutes to firm up. Do a few more hearts than the amount of cupcakes you have - think of it as added insurance in case any break as you gussy the cupcakes up with them (and if they don't... I say baker's treat!).


  1. I love fresh raspberry and pick them here in Michigan. This sound like a great cupcake!

  2. These are so cute and they look delicious. I can't wait to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  3. soooo cute! great decor too.

  4. They look gorgeous! The little chocolate hearts make them look so elegant.

  5. Please say you'll be opening a bakery in Charlotte...


  6. Ed - Fun!

    Jhohanna - Thank you!

    Tia - I appreciate it!

    Katie - We thought it was a fun touch.

    Quinn - Perhaps that's not too far fetched!

  7. Joe, those look bakery perfect! Love the hearts on top... so pretty for Valentine's Day!

  8. Yum! I usually go to Sprinkles for V-day cupcakes, but I might have to try making these myself this year!

  9. Mags - Thanks!

    DC - Enjoy!