Thursday, 17 July 2008

Crazy Cupcake Sunday: Creme Brulee Cupcakes

I have been reading cupcake blogs recently and they have inspired me to try my hand at cupcakes. I haven't really made a lot of cupcakes, the only time I have tried since I started blogging was a terrible failure and I ended up using a packet mix. I also really wanted to learn how to ice and decorate cakes. I am not very creative and I've never really experimented with icing beyond Nigella's royal icing, which is pretty foolproof.

So, I purchased a patty pan tin, some cupcake liners, a pallet knife and a deluxe cake decorating set (not all at the same time, I've been building up to this) and set to work one fine Sunday. I had trawled through many a blog and I had decided to try four different recipes. Three cupcake recipes (all with a different type of icing) and a biscuit recipe.

Unfortunately it seemed that I had bitten off a bit more than I could chew. It didn't help that my Sunbeam mixmaster, which is only 7 months old, decided to die halfway through beating the first cupcake mixture. Luckily, my $10 Coles hand beaters were still in the back of the pantry. I dug them out and kept on mixing.

Only having one 12-hole tin did put a bit of a dampener on the proceedings, as it meant that I had to fill the cupcakes, bake them, wait for them to cool enough to turn out, refill, rebake etc etc. As it got towards the end of the day I did have to call it at just two cupcake recipes and two frostings.

The two cupcake recipes are from How To Eat A Cupcake: Creme Brulee cupcakes with brown sugar Swiss meringue buttercream and Gingerbread cupcakes with ginger cream cheese frosting.

The creme brulee cupcakes are absolutely amazing. They were soft and creamy and light and delicate and everything all at once. The Swiss meringue buttercream was lovely and tasty and really made the cupcake sing. I am definately going to make these again.

Crème Brûlée Cupcakes
from Cupcakes Galore by Gail Wagman as posted on How To Eat A Cupcake

2 ½ cups plain all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt, plus a pinch for the egg whites
½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons caramel syrup (ice cream topping)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.
3. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Alternately beat in dry ingredients and milk. Add caramel syrup and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
4. Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff but not dry. Gently fold whites into batter.
5. Spoon batter into cupcake papers, filling cups about 2/3 full. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool.

Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream
from Everyday Baking from Everyday Food as posted on How To Eat A Cupcake

1 cup light brown sugar
4 egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

Put sugar, egg whites and salt into the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm (about 160 degrees). Pour heated egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes total. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low, add butter two tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high; continue beating until frosting appears thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and continue beating 1 minute to reduce air bubbles.

As I said above, my stand mixer died during the first beating. Even if it hadn't died I didn't have a paddle or whisk attachment, so I was a bit apprehensive about the Swiss meringue buttercream almost to the point of not even trying. I was just going to make Royal Icing and be done with it. In the end I decided to give the buttercream a try, no stand mixer, no whisk attachment just my trusty $10 Coles hand beaters.

Using hand beaters was really good when it came to whisking the egg whites and sugar over the double boiler, they were light enough to keep whisking easily over the stove. When my beaters and I moved off the stove it took about 6 minutes for the egg whites to cool and turn fluffy. It took a further 10 minutes to get it to look like this:

Which is how it is supposed to look! I was very excited. I did have some severely shaking hands for quite a while afterwards though, so the icing had to wait.

Once my hands had stopped shaking I took my piping bag and started experimenting. My first area for improvement is filling the piping bag. I made such a mess. The first time I didn't put enough in and could barely get a cupcake out of it. The second time I did better and made this:

It looks almost decent, doesn't it? It's my very first piped icing! I did find that my whisking was less than impressive while it was over the double boiler as I occasionally found bits of egg sticking in my nozzle, making very strange ribbony swirls. I'm pretending that I meant for them to be that way.

I took them to work for Monday morning tea, they were a hit!


  1. Excellent job! Very nice buttercream, too. I just made a brown sugar 7-minute icing that tastes amazing and I thought it would be good as a Swiss meringue buttercream.
    What I can't believe is that you beat the buttercream with a hand beater! It takes me 8 minutes to whip 4 egg whites to stiff peaks and my hand and arm are dead afterwards.

  2. Oh wait, I read that wrong. For some reason I read hand beater, one of those looks like a mixer but is cranked manually. Oops! But with the hand beater, that's how I make mine since I don't have a stand mixer, either.

  3. Hi christina, I think I would be in awe of anyone who could make a buttercream using a non-electric mixer.

    I know what you mean about the dead arm, I couldn't pipe my buttercream evenly for a good 15 minutes afterwards!