Thursday, November 20, 2008

Iron cupcake: Cranberry!

This month's challenge for the Iron Cupcake was to incorporate cranberries into a cupcake.  I was rather excited about this challenge, because, well, cranberries go along well with desserts.  However, it was a challenge to come up with a creative flavor combination that others may not use.  I decided with all of the money that I am throwing down for holiday baking, along with making a wedding cake for a friend, that I would go with a flavor combination that I would enjoy eating, rather than worrying too much about creative flavor combinations.  The result was a Chocolate-Cranberry cupcake with a cranberry filling and a chocolate frosting with just a hint of cranberry.  They ended up tasting very good.  I think next time I would use a different chocolate cupcake base, as this particular recipe ended up being a bit dry.  Don't forget to vote here starting November 30th at noon.  I could win these great prizes:
- a pair of earrings from Lots of Sprinkles
-a piece of art from Cakespy
-Head Chefs by Fiesta Products
-Hello Cupcake by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson
But, the combination of flavors was great!  Here's the recipe I used, so you can try it for yourself.  It's based on a recipe found here:

For the Cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cranberry juice (100% juice)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 tsp vanilla extract (I think I would use almond extract next time)
2 eggs
1/2 cup - 1 cup chopped sweetened dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  In a small bowl, whisk the cranberry juice, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.  Make a well in the dry mixture and add the cranberry mixture to the dry mixture.  Stir just until moistened, then using a spoon, beat in the eggs.  Add in the dried cranberries and beat with a spoon until mixture is smooth.  

Divide mixture evenly among 12 paper liners and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool.

For the Frosting:

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons cranberry juice
1 tsp vanilla

Place the semi-sweet chocolate in a mixing bowl.  In a microwave-safe measuring cup, microwave the cream until it boils.  Pour the hot cream slowly over the chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.  Place bowl in the refrigerator and chill for 45 minutes or until it is very cold -- it shouldn't take more than an hour.  Don't chill too long or mixture will get too stiff.

When ready to frost, pull melted chocolate/cream mixture from refrigerator and using a hand-held electric mixer, beat until it fluffs up and becomes a bit paler.  Beat in the butter, then slowly beat in the sugar.  Beat in the cranberry juice and vanilla.  If mixture seems too stiff, add a little more cranberry juice.  

For the filling:

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 tsp of salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup molasses (I would use honey instead next time, as the molasses was a bit overpowering)
1 tsp butter
2 cups fresh cranberries, chopped fine

1.  Mix together, thoroughly, two level tablespoons of cornstarch, half a teaspoon of salt, scant measure, and one cup of sugar.  Pour on one cup of boiling water and stir until boiling, then add molasses, butter, and cranberries.

2.  Mix together thoroughly, and let simmer ten or fifteen minutes.

Let cool, and then fill cupcakes using the cone method.  Cover hole with chocolate frosting.

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