Tuesday, October 13, 2009

White Velvet Cupcakes & Buttercream


I was craving childhood cupcakes.  My mom used to make the yellow cake from the box and top it with frosting from the can, and little could make me happier as a kid.  This is like the grownup version.  The flavors are essentially the same, but with that baked-from-scratch goodness and slight sophistication.  After all, I dressed them up with sugar pearls.  This White Velvet Cupcake is moist and has such a tender crumb, and the Chocolate Buttercream is better than anything ever sold in a can.

The recipes come from Rose Levy Beranbaum's new book, Rose's Heavenly Cakes.  This is not a book of the quick and easy, not for whipping up on a random Sunday afternoon.  This book is for making grand cakes, wedding cakes, cakes to impress the pants off someone.  They're beautiful, of course, and no doubt delicious, but many looked so time-consuming.  This cupcake was great because it didn't require too much effort or time, and a photo editor at work told me it was "the best cupcake I've ever had."

I watched a video of Rose's where she pointed out that your average frosting usually has a slight grainy texture.  This is because the sugar or confectioners sugar is uncooked, and all those granules are just beaten in.  This buttercream, on the other hand, dissolves the sugar over heat and makes use of some corn syrup, resulting in the smoothest buttercream imaginable.

Whipping up a smooth and rich batter.

Scooping batter into the wells.

Rose calls for filling each cupcake liner with 1.7 ounces of batter.  I just kept pressing "tare" on the scale between fillings.  This may seem anal . . .

. . . but look how beautifully uniform they come out!  No cupcakes with big humps while others sit below the liner rim.  They were all the same size.  Just eyeball filling them if you're more easygoing.

The buttercream starts with egg yolks that have a sugar syrup beaten into them.

Hard to believe that when you add butter, it slowly becomes this . . .

. . . and then this!  Just note that it has to sit a few hours before you serve it to anyone.

To make it chocolate, simply stir a few ounces of melted and cooled dark chocolate in.

Spread or pipe your finished chocolate buttercream onto the cupcakes.

I reserved some buttercream to keep as vanilla, since some friends don't like chocolate.  I don't understand them, either.

White Velvet Butter Cupcakes
From Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes

Makes 14 to 16 cupcakes

3 large egg whites, at room temperature¼ cup plus 2 tbs3.2 ounces
Milk⅔ cup, divided5.6 ounces
Pure vanilla extract1½ tsp.
Cake flour2 cups, sifted into cup and leveled7 ounces
Superfine sugar (I used granulated)1 cup7 ounces
Baking powder2¼ tsp plus ⅛ tsp.
Salt½ tsp.
Unsalted butter (65° to 75°F)8 tbs (1 stick)4 ounces

Set 15 cupcake liners in muffin pans or custard cups (I used a cupcake pan).

Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites, 3 tbs of the milk, and the vanilla just until lightly combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds.  Add the butter and the remaining milk and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1½ minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Use a number 30 ice cream scoop or a spoon to place the batter (1.7 ounces) into the prepared cupcake liners, smoothing the surfaces evenly with a small metal spatula.  The liners will be about three-quarters full.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wire cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean and the cupcakes spring back when pressed lightly in the centers.

Let the cupcakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove them from the pans and set them on a wire rack.  Cool completely.

*You can bake this as a 1-layer cake in a 9-inch pan lined with parchment and coated with cooking spray and flour.  Increase the baking powder to 2½ plus ⅛ tsp.  Bake 30 to 40 minutes in a 350° preheated oven.

Golden Neoclassic Buttercream (with variation for Chocolate)

Makes 2 cups

3 large egg yolks3½ tbs2 ounces
Superfine sugar (I used granulated)¼ cup plus 2 tbs2.6 ounces
Golden syrup or corn syrup¼ cup3 ounces
Lemon juice, freshly squeezed1 tsp.
Unsalted butter (65° to 75°F)16 tbs (2 sticks)8 ounces
Pure vanilla extract1 tsp.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, or in a medium bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the yolks on high speed until light in color.

Have ready a 1-cup heatproof glass measure, coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small saucepan, preferably nonstick, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and lemon juice.  Using a silicone spatula, stir until all the sugar is moistened.  Heat over medium-high, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup begins to bubble around the edges.  Stop stirring completely and continue cooking for a few minutes until the syrup comes to a rolling boil.  (The entire surface will be covered with large bubbles.)  Immediately transfer the syrup to the glass measure to stop the cooking.

If using a stand mixer, with the mixer off to keep the syrup from spinning onto the sides of the bowl, add the syrup to the yolks.  Begin by pouring in a small amount of syrup.  Immediately beat on high speed for 5 seconds.  Add the remaining syrup the same way in three parts.  For the last addition, use a sillicone scraper to remove the syrup clinging to the glass measure and scrape it against the beater.  If the syrup has hardened before most of it has been poured, soften it to pouring consistency for a few seconds in the microwave.

If using a handheld mixer, beat the syrup into the yolks in a steady stream.  Don't allow the syrup to fall on the beaters or they will spin it into the sides of the bowl.

Continue beating on high speed for 5 minutes.  Allow it to cool completely.  To speed cooling, place the buttercream in an ice water bath or the  refrigerator, stirring occasionally.

When the outside of the bowl feels cool, beat in the butter by the tablespoon on medium-high speed.  The buttercream will not thicken until almost all of the butter has been added.  Add the vanilla and beat on low speed until incorporated.

Place the buttercream in an airtight bowl.  Use it at once or set it aside for up to 4 hours (it will have a slight crunch until it stands for several hours).  If keeping it longer than 4 hours, refrigerate it.  Bring to room temperature before using to prevent curdling and rebeat to restore the texture.

Chocolate variation: Beat in 3 ounces melted and cooled dark chocolate, 60% to 70% cacao.

1 comment:

  1. I just made these cupcakes, and honestly I wasn't expecting them to be very good (the method used is very untraditional) but WOW am I glad I tried these! They turned out fantastic! I don't think I've ever had such a fluffy and light cupcake. I was concerned that it did not follow the usual cream the butter and sugar, then add egg, then add the flour at the end, but this works very well. The flour gets worked a fair amount (I thought they might be tough from gluten development) but I guess that's why you use the cake flour? Thanks for posting!


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