June 8, 2011

Tequila Sunrise Cupcakes

My husband's delicious Tequila Sunrises was the inspiration for my creation for the annual Ice Cream Cupcake Contest hosted by the Cupcake Project and Scoopalicious. I wanted to develop my cupcake using the true flavors of a Tequila Sunrise: orange, pomegranate and tequila. (I had learned from the Cupcake Project that grenadine was originally made from pomegranates, so I wanted to be true to its origin.) The cupcake combines all three flavors into a delicious summer treat that allows pregnant cupcake lovers to indulge in a Tequila Sunrise!
Tequila Sunrise Cupcake
While flipping through my A World of Cake book, I saw a recipe for Brazil Nut Cake, with an Orange Cake variation. I decided to use that recipe as a base, adjusting it to incorporate the tequila. The cake is flecked with hints of orange zest and a true orange flavor with a touch of tequila. (Note: I did use food coloring in a portion of my cupcakes in an effort to obtain the authentic colors of a Tequila Sunrise. They taste just as delicious whether the cake is artificially orange or its natural yellowish hue.)

Orange Tequila Cake

2 3/4 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs
1/2 cup orange juice
Zest of one orange
1/3 cup tequila

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Combine flour, baking powder and salt together. In mixer, beat together sugar and butter until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each one until thoroughly mixed. Stir in the orange juice and zest until well combined.

Then add flour mixture and tequila, alternating between the flour and tequila until both are fully incorporated. (You should be adding 3 portions of flour and three portions of tequila, ending with the tequila.) Scoop the batter into 29 prepared cupcake liners. Bake approximately 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of cupcakes comes out clean.

Remove cupcakes from cupcake tins, and cool completely on wire racks.

Once cupcakes are completely cool, cut the top portion off each cupcake. This will allow you to spoon a dollop of pomegranate ice cream onto each cupcake. Then recap each cupcake. (Note: The ice cream melts quickly, especially in the 90º weather we've had recently, so work quickly and store your cupcakes in the freezer between steps.)

Frost the cupcakes using pomegranate frosting, and then top each cupcake with a candied orange peel. Serve immediately, or store in freezer until serving. Then ... indulge!

June 6, 2011

Pomegranate Ice Cream

The morale of this posting is: If at first you believe you fail, wait until the next day.

I thought pomegranate ice cream would be the perfect accompaniment for my upcoming Tequila Sunrise cupcakes. After searching online, I decided to try a recipe posted on www.AllRecipes.com for Creamy Pomegranate Ice Cream. I was quite disappointed after 40 minutes of churning that my ice cream was not freezing at all. (Granted, it was 74 degrees in the house and 80+ degrees outside.) So, I tossed the ice cream in the freezer and decided to postpone my cupcake project another day.

I was quite surprised to pull the ice cream out of the freezer to discover perfectly smooth, scoop-able ice cream. Normally my homemade ice cream tastes delicious and is perfect the first time but is incredibly hard thereafter. My husband declared this to be the best ice cream I've made. (Of course, I've only made homemade ice cream a handful of times, but I'll take the compliments I can get.)

Pomegranate Ice Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 cup pomegranate juice concentrate (the recipe called for juice, but I used concentrate for more intense flavor)
1 tsp. vanilla
A pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients together, and freeze according to your ice cream maker's manufacturer's instructions. I didn't bother to refresh my memory with instructions and churned it using my KitchenAid for approximately 40 minutes on speed 2. Worked wonderfully after a night in the freezer.

Pomegranate Frosting

My next cupcake project required pomegranate frosting, which I had never made. After reviewing a lot of online recipes that seemed too runny to pipe, I decided to modify a Lemon Buttercream recipe from A World of Cake. The frosting turned out well and did not require any food coloring to have its lovely pink hue.

Pomegranate Frosting
1 stick butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup pomegranate juice (either use concentrate or reduce regular juice over medium heat)

Beat butter until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar. Mix in vanilla, and then gradually add pomegranate juice concentrate until desired texture is reached. You can vary the texture of the frosting by the amount of pomegranate juice you add. Makes enough frosting for 2-3 dozen cupcakes.

Candied Orange Peel

Although I've heard of candied citrus peels, I never really had a reason to try them. However, they seemed like the perfect garnish for my upcoming Tequila Sunrise cupcakes.

They're simple to make, although they are quite sticky and messy especially in humid weather.

Candied Orange Peel
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
Thin strips of orange rind from 4 oranges

Combine sugar, water and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, add the orange rinds and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the rind strips from the hot liquid, and set on drying rack to dry overnight. Note that peels will be very sticky and should not touch each other. Makes plenty of orange peels to decorate 2-3 dozen cupcakes. (I think you can handle the math on that.)