Key Lime & Coconut

My adventures in the world of food & wine

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cupcake Hero to the Rescue

Greetings from the City of Brotherly Love! I'm in Philadelphia for the week, and my boyfriend Joe and I have been having a blast eating out at various spots in the city. Tonight we're taking a break from that and I'm cooking a delicious Southern meal for him and his roommate. Needless to say, I enjoy feeding him. In that vein, I baked a batch of cupcakes on Friday night and brought a bunch of them with me when I flew down on Saturday, just as a kind of thank-you present for letting me crash with him on my week off.

These cupcakes are my entry for the October edition of the Cupcake Hero challenge. The theme ingredient this month is cloves, those delicious ground-up dried flower buds. Cloves are pungent, sweet, and strong; you have to be careful not to go overboard with them. I worked up a recipe from a spice cake recipe in the classic Joy of Cooking that balances out the cloves with some other spices, and threw in a handful of chopped-up figs for good measure. Chocolate butter frosting serves as the perfect creamy topping to these crumbly bundles of autumnal goodness.

Velvet Spice Cupcakes with Figs

  • 2-1/2 c. sifted cake flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground or grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/2 sticks (3/4 c.) unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 c. sugar, divided
  • 3 eggs, divided into yolks and whites
  • 3/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. plain yogurt
  • 6-8 fresh black mission figs, coarsely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350. Grease or place paper liners into cupcake pans. Whisk together first seven ingredients (flour through salt) until thoroughly blended. Beat butter in a large bowl until creamy, about 30 seconds. Gradually add 1-1/4 c. sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 4 minutes. Beat in the 3 egg yolks, one at a time. On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the yogurt in 2 parts, beating until smooth and scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary. Stir in the figs. Using clean beaters, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 c. sugar and beat on high speed until the peaks are stiff but not dry. Use a rubber spatula to fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining whites. Spoon the batter into the cupcake pans so that each cup is about two-thirds full. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool, remove from pans, and frost.

Dark Chocolate Butter Icing
  • 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c. warm milk
  • 1-1/3 c. confectioners sugar
  • pinch cinnamon and ground cloves
Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in milk. Add spices, then gradually add confectioners sugar, beating on medium speed until spreadable.

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