Sweet selection of sugary darlings | NevadaAppeal.com

Sweet selection of sugary darlings

JOAN BRUNSKILL
Associated Press

National Honey Board Lavender Pink Grapefruit Cupcakes are topped with Pink Grapefruit Buttercream Frosting. These lavender-grapefruit cupcakes have just a hint of tangy grapefruit and a lightly lavender-flecked dough.

Newly chic though they are, appearing on an ever-wider range of social scenes, cupcakes are still their disarming little selves under all the fancy frosting and avant-garde garnish.

So relax: You can still bake up a batch without taking an advanced culinary course. Anyone can have a lot of fun playing the variations game – starting with three new recipes that showcase honey.

Cupcake flavors are more adventurous now, said Chicago-based recipe developer Lisa Bishop, as people all over the country are much more open to trying ethnic and other variations. She cited as examples tropical flavors, flavors from the islands and those showing Latin influence, as well as grown-up flavors such as citrus and bittersweet chocolate.

The Key lime cupcake was her family’s favorite, Bishop said. Beside her husband, family includes a 9-year-old boy who doesn’t go for sweet things and a 10-year-old daughter who like all sweet things, she explained.

The limes give a touch of citrus, the coconut milk a hint of Thai cuisine, and the nuts give texture. The honey, which Bishop pointed out is not as sweet as sugar, helps produce a dense, moist cake. Clover honey and wildflower honey are both mild flavored.

Key Lime Macadamia Nut Cupcakes

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• 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

• 1Ú2 teaspoon baking soda

• 1Ú2 teaspoon baking powder

• 1Ú2 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon zest and 1Ú4 cup juice from Key limes (see note)

• 3Ú4 cup canned coconut milk (see note)

• 1Ú2 cup butter, softened

• 3Ú4 cup mild honey, preferably clover

• 2 large eggs

• 1Ú2 cup shredded coconut

• 1Ú2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a liquid measure, combine Key lime zest and juice, and coconut milk; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy; scraping sides of bowl, as necessary. Add honey; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl after each addition.

Add half of the reserved dry ingredients to the butter mixture; mix on low until just combined. With mixer running on low, slowly add the lime mixture. Add remaining dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in coconut and macadamia nuts. Fill paper-lined muffin tins 2Ú3 full. Bake 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove to wire rack; cool.

Frost with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting, if desired.

Makes 12 to 16 cupcakes.

Note: Regular limes may be substituted. Coconut milk may be found with Thai or Asian cooking ingredients.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

• 1Ú2 cup cream cheese, softened

• 1Ú4 cup butter, softened

• 2 T. lime juice

• 2 T. mild honey, preferably clover

• 4 to 5 cups powdered sugar

• 11Ú2 cups shredded coconut

In a mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add lime juice and honey; mix well. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until desired spreading consistency. Frost cupcakes and top with coconut.

(AP recipe developed by Lisa Bishop, courtesy National Honey Board)

These lavender-grapefruit cupcakes have just a hint of tangy grapefruit and a lightly lavender-flecked dough. “It’s very subtle, don’t be afraid this is going to be some kind of potpourri,” Bishop said.

Lavender Pink Grapefruit Cupcakes

• 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

• 1Ú2 teaspoon baking soda

• 1Ú2 teaspoon baking powder

• 1Ú2 teaspoon salt

• 2 teaspoons lavender flowers (no stems)

• 1Ú2 cup pink grapefruit juice

• 1Ú2 cup buttermilk

• 1Ú2 cup butter, softened

• 3Ú4 cup mild honey, preferably clover

• 2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. With the back of a spoon, crush lavender flowers and combine with flour mixture; mix well and set aside.

In a liquid measure, combine pink grapefruit juice and buttermilk; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy; scraping sides of bowl, as necessary. Add honey; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl after each addition.

Add half of the reserved dry ingredients to the butter mixture; mix on low until just combined. With mixer running on low, slowly add the grapefruit mixture. Add remaining dry ingredients until just combined. Fill paper-lined muffin tins 2Ú3 full. Bake 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove to wire rack; cool.

Frost with Pink Grapefruit Buttercream Frosting, if desired.

Makes 12 to 14 cupcakes.

Pink Grapefruit Buttercream Frosting

• 1Ú2 cup butter, softened

• 1Ú4 cup grapefruit juice

• 2 T. mild honey, preferably clover

• 4 to 5 cups powdered sugar

• 2 to 3 drops red food coloring (optional)

In a mixing bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add grapefruit juice and honey; mix well. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until desired spreading consistency. For a darker pink color, add food coloring, if desired.

(AP recipe developed by Lisa Bishop, courtesy National Honey Board)

This recipe uses ginger, which Bishop calls one of her favorite flavors, and has a very flavorful roasted pineapple and honey syrup.

Honey Roasted Pineapple Cupcakes

1Ú2 fresh pineapple

2 tablespoons butter

1Ú2 cup mild honey, preferably wildflower

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

1Ú4 cup buttermilk

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1Ú2 teaspoon baking soda

1Ú2 teaspoon baking powder

1Ú2 teaspoon salt

1Ú2 cup butter, softened

2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Remove rind from pineapple, slice and cut into wedges. Put 2 tablespoons butter in a 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan and place in oven 2 to 3 minutes, until melted. Remove from oven and add 1Ú4 cup honey; stir. Place pineapple wedges in a single layer; return pan to oven. Roast for 10 minutes, turn wedges over and roast an additional 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven to a cooling rack. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F.

Remove wedges from pan; set aside. Measure 2 tablespoons of pineapple syrup from pan; set aside. Place remaining pineapple and syrup in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Place 3Ú4 cup of pineapple mixture in a liquid measuring cup. Add ginger and buttermilk; set aside.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream 1Ú2 cup butter until fluffy; scraping sides of bowl, as necessary. Add 1Ú4 cup honey; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl after each addition.

Add half of the reserved dry ingredients to the butter mixture; mix on low until just combined. With mixer running on low, slowly add the buttermilk mixture. Add remaining dry ingredients until just combined. Fill paper-lined muffin tins 2Ú3 full. Bake 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove to wire rack; cool.

Frost with Honey Pineapple Whipped Cream, if desired.

Makes 12 to 14 cupcakes.

Honey Pineapple Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon mild honey, preferably wildflower

2 tablespoons reserved pineapple syrup

Reserved pineapple wedges

In a mixing bowl, combine whipping cream, honey and syrup. Beat until peaks form. Spread or pipe onto cupcakes. Garnish with pineapple wedges.

(AP recipe developed by Lisa Bishop, courtesy National Honey Board)

Dede Wilson’s newly published “A Baker’s Field Guide to Cupcakes” (Harvard Common Press, 2006, $17.95) organizes its 60 recipes into sections, starting with seven master recipes for cupcakes and eight for frostings, buttercream and glaze. Then follow cupcakes adapted for 20 special occasions ranging from Valentine’s Day and Halloween to weddings and children’s birthdays, each colorfully illustrated.

The crumb cake cupcake master recipe is the basis for a seasonal Caramel Apple Cupcake, which could well dress up a Thanksgiving table. The sour cream makes a very moist coffeecake; the recipe works well with the addition of fruit or nuts, or just as a plain spiced version.

“If you use frozen berries,” Wilson writes, “there is no need to defrost them before adding them to the batter.” The cupcakes will keep for about 2 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

Master recipe:

Crumb Cake Cupcakes

Streusel:

1Ú2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

2Ú3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1Ú2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

11Ú4 cups all-purpose flour

Cupcakes:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1Ú2 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1Ú2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces

3Ú4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1Ú4 teaspoon almond extract

2 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

11Ú2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries or raspberries, or 11Ú2 cups nuts, toasted and finely chopped (try walnuts, pecans, and/or almonds; see note)

To make the streusel, in a large bowl stir together melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extracts and salt until well combined. Stir in flour until smooth. Mixture should clumb and form “crumbs” when squeezed between fingertips. Set aside.

To make the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350 F. Place paper liners in all wells of one 12-cup and one 6-cup baking tin.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a small bowl to aerate and combine; set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Beat in extracts. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down after each addition, allowing each egg to be absorbed before continuing. Add the flour mixture in 4 additions, alternately with the sour cream. Begin and end with the flour mixture, stopping when there are still a few streaks of flour. Fold in the fruit and/or nuts, if using, until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among cupcake wells. Place a generous amount of streusel on top of each cupcake, using your fingers to compress it into crumbs and to scatter it evenly. Bake for about 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center shows a few moist crumbs.

Cool pans on racks for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes to cooling racks to cool completely.

Makes 18 cupcakes.

Note: To toast nuts, spread in a single layer on a jellyroll pan and toast in a 350 F oven until fragrant and just beginning to color, about 5 to 10 minutes. Shake the pan once or twice during toasting to ensure even browning.

(Recipe from “A Baker’s Field Guide to Cupcakes” by Dede Wilson, Harvard Common Press, 2006, $17.95)

These cupcakes could be a twist on a tradition dessert offering – instead of an apple pie. Because the streusel and caramel are sweet, it’s best to use tart apples, such as Granny Smith, to balance out the flavors.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

2Ú3 cup peeled and diced Granny Smith apples

2Ú3 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped

1 batch batter and streusel from Crumb Cake Cupcakes, prepared without fruit or nuts

18 caramel candies

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place paper liners in all wells of one 12-cup and one 6-cup cupcake tins.

Fold the chopped apples and walnuts into the plain cupcake batter. Fill each paper liner about one-quarter of the way full with batter. Top with a bit of streusel, then fill with remaining batter. Top with remaining streusel. Bake for about 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center shows a few moist crumbs. Cool pans on racks for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes to cool completely.

Melt caramels in top of double boiler or in microwave. Drizzle caramel over tops of cooled cupcakes using a fork or teaspoon. Cupcakes are now ready to serve.

(Recipe from “A Baker’s Field Guide to Cupcakes” by Dede Wilson, Harvard Common Press, 2006, $17.95)