Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Test kitchen marathon

Rainbow cupcake

Is this an awesome looking cupcake or what?!  Full credit for this creation goes to Caitlin who asked if she could "play around" with some colours.  This is what one gets when one gives an adolescent free rein in the kitchen!  The cake itself is bourbon vanilla with vanilla buttercream icing and the flavour and consistency has been deemed "perfect" by my panel of trusty taste testers.

In the past couple of weeks I think we baked around 5 dozen cupcakes in various flavours in an attempt to perfect and finalize my repertoire.  Flavours and colours and styles of cupcakes are endless, but I wanted to limit myself to 8 or 9 different flavours with approximately the same number of icing choices.  As I said in the beginning, cakes are my speciality, with cupcakes acting as financial "filler" on the side.
So what did we accomplish?  We perfected the red velvet after a couple of batches and now have one that is a beautiful deep reddish brown that has a noticeable chocolate flavour.  I top that with a much improved upon cream cheese icing that is no longer quite as sweet as it used to be.

We discovered that papaya cupcakes are a disaster!  Papaya flavoured buttercream is ok, but I don't think I will make it a staple product.

Our Tiramisu is to die for!  No really, it tastes just like a real tiramisu cake and we even ice it with lemon flavoured mascarpone cream.  We used real Amaretto liqueur and strong coffee.  Amongst those who tested this cake it was a favourite with the majority.  The only problem we encountered was too much coffee.  This made the cupcakes far too moist, but that will be easy to fix.  We just need to make the coffee stronger and add less of it.

For our coffee lovers we also developed a chocolate mocca cupcake which combines a rich chocolate flavour with enough coffee to give it a bit of a punch.  This one was topped with coffee flavoured chocolate ganache.  My daughter accidentally got the proportions of cream and chocolate "wrong", but the result was devine!!!

Then with an eye for our "gluten free" customers, we came up with a nutella hazelnut cupcake that has no wheat in it.  Ground almonds were used to bind the cake together and it came out tasting almost like a brownie.  Since it was already so rich, we scratched our heads for quite a while before we decided to ice it with whipped cream which had a dash of vanilla and a tiny bit of sugar added.  The combination worked and got a lot of praise from our "guinea pigs".

Finally, having realised that we had an awful lot of chocolate based flavours we decided to try a blueberry cupcake.  I took my tried and tested vanilla recipe and added blueberry puree in swirls.  They came out great, but I could have used much more blueberry.  Then the icing:  At first I tried adding blueberry puree to buttercream, but the resulting colour was so unappetizing that I immediately abandoned that idea.  After a little thought I came up with the idea of using white chocolate ganache.  This proved to be a NIGHTMARE!!!!!   For some reason I kept getting it wrong and I would end up with a curdled, lumpy mess.  600g of white chocolate and a litre of heavy cream later I finally got it right just in time for our friends who had come to dinner to test.  I need to do one more batch to perfect the blueberry-vanilla ratio, but otherwise it's time for the test kitchen to take a break.

Next step;  packaging and logo.  We'll keep you posted!

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