Inspired by the visit from my sister-in-law, I set out to make a batch of macarons all by my lonesome. Flying solo didn't seem like such a scary thing until I was actually in the midst of whipping the egg whites, and then all of the insecurities began bubbling to the surface like the air in the froth I was creating. Is this bubbly enough to begin adding sugar? Is it glossy enough? Are these peaks stiff, or should I beat it just a minute longer? Well, my friends, I'm sorry to say that these were by no means perfect. They were more the consistency of meringue than chewy macarons which tells me I needed to press more air out of the batter and possibly add a little more almond meal. But they were tasty, so expect v2 to follow soon! For the recipe, read on.
I have found that frosting is a great way to infuse certain ingredients into a pastry that do not fare well with heating or baking or to add additional layers of flavor to a dessert. Matcha (finely milled green tea) works great as a flavoring agent in baked goods, but it comes through great in frosting, as I found with this recipe. It is on the sweet side, so I might try this again as a cream cheese frosting.
Adapted from Cupcake Bakeshop
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 c. heavy cream or half-and-half
- 1 tbsp. matcha powder
- 3 c. confectioners sugar, sifted
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip butter until fluffy.
- In a small bowl, mix cream and matcha until well combined.
- To the electric mixer, add 1 c. sugar and beat until combined. Scrape down bowl, then add 1/3 of the cream-matcha mixture. Beat to combine, scrape down bowl, then add another cup of sugar. Continue alternating until you have used up all of the remaining ingredients. Turn the mixer to high, and whip until frosting is light and fluffy.
Nicole and her husband Chris treated a bunch of us to a wonderful Puerto Rican meal at their awesome new house on Saturday, and since I'm terrible at selecting housewarming gifts ("Here's a Jonathan Adler vase for your...er...clearly French Rococo-style home!"), I decided to put my free time to good use and bake up a selection of mini cupcakes inspired by various Puerto Rican desserts. I tried to create a balance of tastes, picking out a few tropical fruits as well as caramel, chocolate, cinnamon, and coffee flavors. So after shutting myself in the kitchen for several hours, the final list came down to (clockwise, from left):
Guava with Cream Cheese Frosting
Spiced Dark Chocolate with Coffee-Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting
Dulce de Leche (brown sugar cupcakes with dulce de leche buttercream frosting)
Piña Colada (pineapple cupcakes with coconut cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut)
Next to chocolate, dulce de leche is perhaps the world's most decadent -- and versatile -- dessert. Not only is it magnificent warmly slipping down the sides of a leche flan, it's luscious drizzled over vanilla ice cream, smeared in between layers of cookie in alfajores, or even paired with cheese. So the leap to cupcakes is not a big one. Some recipes called for incorporating dulce de leche in both cake and frosting, but I was afraid that the richness of the caramel would be too heavy handed. So I found a dulce de leche frosting recipe which seemed to pair well with a brown sugar cupcake recipe from my new favorite site, and guess what? Perfection! For the recipe, read on.