I don't mind if you're coming to simply check out the recipes and pictures. And I'm surprised that there are people who even read my stories!! I don't want to burden you with my boring personal stuff! So, in light of this, today I will — without adornment or agenda – just talk to you about a new recipe! Say hello to the crème brûlée cupcake.
A few days ago, I decided to visit the studio I was working at before. My coworker jokingly threatened to "defriend" me if I didn't bring cupcakes when I visited, and I told him that I dare not. Plus, what would a visit be without treats to come along with? Anyways, I really wanted to do something different and original, since they've tried a number of treats I've baked. Also, they're aren't crazy about extremely sweet things so I had to do my brain-racking for a delicious but humble treat. I was trying to figure out something festive too, so a good place to start getting inspiration was the different holiday-themed beverages at starbucks. (haha! funny how the mind works.) And then I thought their crème brûlée latté was just the thing! A toasty, creamy, custardy cupcake. Perfect!!
I began my research by googling "crème brûlée cupcakes" and found that there weren't that many options. A lot of them were cupcakes "inspired" by the crème brûlée flavour. Caramel swirled into the cake, meringue topped, or sugar flamed frosting. None of it sounded that appealing to me, so then I thought, why not just make real crème brûlée and incorporate it with the cake? So that's what I did. And it was a trés trés good idea.
I made my crème brûlée in a larger pan, made a simple yellow buttermilk cake and then filled it. No frosting needed, just a nice adornment on top. I originally thought of buying a kitchen blow torch, sprinkling sugar on the cupcake and burning it, but it was just all too much work to get set up with a blow torch. That will be for next time. Instead, I made candied (and slightly burnt) sugar decorations to carry on the theme.
Making crème brûlée is surprisingly easy. I don't know why I was also so intimidated by those smooth, pudding-y desserts, but now I've totally overcome it. With the help of joepastry (who also happens my new baking hero: his blog is simply amazing. smart, funny, practical and super helpful), I made crème brûlée really easily and had it ready the day before I made the cupcakes. I really want to try to make it just on its' own as the real thing. I think crème brûlée is such a romantic dessert and it's got so many different layers of deliciousness.
I also used a new recipe for my vanilla cake and might I say, I think I found the one. I mean, the one. It's from smittenkitchen, and she even said that this is that special, indispensable cake for her. I'm thoroughly impressed and now will switch it with every yellow cake I've made.
As for reviews of my new found combination of french delicacy and good ol' American staple? My friends absolutely LOVED it. They even said that it was be the BEST of what I've brought in all this time and that's saying a lot!! Not too sweet, but with lots of flavour and great textures. They're both great recipes on their own, but an even greater marriage together!!
Crème Brûlée Cupcakes
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon cake flour (not self-rising)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
for crème brûlée
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
for sugar decoration
1 cup of granulated sugar
make crème brûlée
1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, set a small saucepan of water (or a teapot) over low heat.
2. Pour the cream into a small saucepan, along with the vanilla extract and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately remove the cream from the heat and allow it to steep for 10-20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, whisk the sugar and yolks together in a medium bowl until they're light in color. Add the cream in a steady stream, whisking all the while. Pour the mixture into four 6-ounce ramekins, (OR in my case, in a small pan.) Place the ramekins into a roasting pan or baking dish.
4. When ready to bake, put on an oven mitt and open the oven door. Slide a middle rack half way out and gently place the baking dish containing the ramekins on it. Carefully pour in enough hot water to come half way up the sides of the ramekins. Slide the rack back into the oven and close the door.
5. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or (40-45 minutes for a larger pan like mine) until the custard is just set (firm but slightly jiggly in the middle). Cool on a wire rack, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or up to three days.
For just the crème brûlée on its own: Half an hour before you want to serve, remove the ramekins from the refrigerator. Take off the plastic wrap and spread a healthy tablespoon of sugar evenly over the top of each custard. Using a salamander or a blow torch, melt and lightly brown the sugar. Let the crème brûlée sit for 5 minutes, and serve.
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with cups.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated.
3. Spread batter evenly in cupcake pan. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely before filling or decorating.
make sugar decoration and assemble cupcakes
1. In a small sauce pan with a heavy bottom, pour a cup of sugar on medium-high heat. Without using a spatula, simply swirl the pan itself often in order to ensure even heating. Slowly but surely, the sugar will start to caramelize. When the colour starts to darken, and it will smoke just a bit, immediately take off heat. When sugar passes its melting point, it will burn very very quickly. It's also useful to use a sugar thermometer to ensure the perfect amount of melting. (300-310°F for hard candy).
2. Quickly pour onto silpat or non-stick surface and let it spread into a thin layer. After it cools to room temperature, place it in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Once completely harden, break into funky pieces for decoration.
3. Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, make a cone-shaped hole in each cupcake about the size of a loonie (for Canadians) or a silver dollar (for Americans). Fill it up with a tablespoon of cold crème brûlée (I used my small ice-cream scoop for cookies). Place sugar decoration on top and it's ready to serve!