Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Champagne cupcakes

Champagne cupcake

Since we started planning my friend's bridal shower, I'd been Googling around, stockpiling ideas, and one thing I came across was a recipe for a pink champagne cake. Pink wouldn't fit with our theme, but champagne, that might work nicely. So when I ended up being enlisted to make the cake, I revisited that idea, and after a bit of research and a bit of trial and error, I pulled together this recipe for champagne cupcakes. I'd say that they came out pretty good, if you like champagne -- I tasted the cake and frosting and the champagne I'd used, and the flavor did come across nicely. One small warning: While there's really not that much champagne in the frosting, once it's added, it's not cooked, so you might want to keep these away from the kids. (For them and for those who don't like champagne, I made some chocolate cupcakes for the occasion as well.)

The best thing about making these, I think, is that I'd been lacking a good recipe for vanilla buttercream, and now, I've found one -- I tasted this frosting before adding the champagne, and even then, without any vanilla extract, it tasted really good. (And yes, Swiss meringue buttercream is totally worth the extra effort, 'cause the taste and texture are so much better, so much smoother and lighter and fluffier, than that shortcut recipe a lot of people use.)

Champagne Cupcakes with Champagne Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Adapted from two different Sweetapolita recipes

3/4 c butter, softened
2 c sugar
3 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
6 egg whites, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c champagne, room temperature, stirred until flat

5 egg whites
1 1/4 c sugar
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 c butter, softened, cut into pieces
1 to 4 tbsp champagne

1. Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the egg whites and vanilla.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add this to the mixer, alternating with the champagne, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat just until combined.
3. Fill paper-lined or greased cupcake pan cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. De-pan and cool on a rack.
4. In the top of a double-boiler or a bowl that can sit on top of a saucepan filled with an inch or so of simmering water, beat together the egg whites, sugar and salt with a whisk. Continue to whisk gently and monitor the temperature of the mixture with a thermometer, cooking it until it reaches 150 degrees.
5. Pour the mixture into a mixer bowl (or use a hand mixer) and beat with the whisk attachment until it's thickened and glossy and forms a soft peak when you lift up the whisk.
6. Beat in the butter, one piece at a time, until it's all in there and combined. (It will probably start to look scary somewhere along the line, like it's curdling -- that's totally normal, just keep beating it and it will come together.)
7. Beat in the champagne, one tablespoon at a time, tasting after each addition, until the flavor is to your liking. Then, beat a bit more, until light and fluffy.
8. Frost cupcakes and serve.

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