Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Week 15: Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
Recipe by Michelle Gayer Nicholson from Baking from the Heart by Michael J.
Rosen (Broadway Books, 2004)
Makes twelve 3 3/4-inch cakes (24 regular size cupcakes)
1 vanilla bean
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups plus 5 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 cups pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 3/4 cups room-temperature water, divided
6 large egg whites
1 recipe White Chocolate Mascarpone Frosting (below)
6 to 8 ounces white chocolate, peeled into curls, optional, for garnish
2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
17.6 ounces mascarpone (see Note)
Make the cupcakes
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Fill twelve 3 3/4-inch muffin cups
with paper
baking cups. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape free the seeds.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, put the
1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons of the sugar, and the vanilla seeds. Mix for 2
on medium speed or until light and fluffy.
3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Reduce the
speed to low, and alternately pour into the butter-sugar mixture 1/3 of the
ingredients and 1/2 of the water (7 ounces), mixing well after each addition
scraping the inside of the bowl. Begin and end with the dry ingredients.
Remove the
mixing bowl.
4. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment. In another mixing bowl, beat the
whites on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft peaks form.
the speed to low and slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons
Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. The egg
should look glossy. Do not over mix. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake
batter in two or three additions, incorporating all the egg whites thoroughly.
5. Spoon the batter into the baking cups, filling each one three-quarters full.
the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until
centers of the cupcakes spring back. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool
for 5
minutes. Remove the cupcakes and cool completely.
6. Frost each cake with generous spoonfuls of the mascarpone frosting or
favorite frosting. Use a vegetable peeler to scrape a block of white chocolate
create large curls. Place several on top of each cupcake.
7. Place the cupcakes in an airtight container and refrigerate. Allow the
cakes to sit
at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.
Make the frosting
1. In a small saucepan, warm the cream over medium heat until it feels hot
but is
nowhere near a simmer. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and
the warm cream over the chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate melts. Set the
bowl in
an ice bath until the mixture is chilled. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly
on the
surface of the mixture and a second piece over the bowl and refrigerate for at
least 4
hours. You may also make this 1 day ahead.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine
mascarpone and half of the white chocolate mixture and whip for 2 minutes,
or until
well combined. Add the remaining white chocolate mixture, increase the
speed to
high, and beat the mixture until the frosting holds stiff peaks.
Note: Mascarpone cheese, which is imported from Italy, is sold in small tubs
that are measured in grams. Converting to ounces creates this odd, just-over-

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