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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Thai Tea Cupcakes

thai tea cupcake

I really, really want a solid Thai Tea cupcake recipe. I have been playing around with just about every product I could get my hands on and trying a variety of recipes and approaches. Getting the Thai tea flavor in the baked good was just not working. While the cake tasted fine... in most cases ended up tasting like corn and not Thai tea.

I finally decided to skip the flavor in the cake and focus it in the filling and frosting. I also used yet another new product and this one is my favorite so far. I made Thai Ice Tea per the directions and the result is most definitely whatever I am being served in San Francisco Thai restaurants... the Thai Tea flavor I am accustomed to and love.

These cupcakes tasted luscious - no funky after tastes, no cloying sweetness. The cake is the not-too-sweet balance to the creamy sweetness of the filling and frosting. We tried these soon after assembly and they just sort of burst into a creamy mass. I think with some time in the refrigerator the flavors will deepen, the filling will become one with the cake, and the experience should be equally as good, perhaps a little better, and definitely a bit neater.

I don't know if this is the end of my search, but I am definitely pleased with what transpired today.

15 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 large egg whites

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
4. Measure out vanilla and milk together.
5. Add about a third of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
6. Add about one half the milk mixture and beat until combined.
7. Repeat above, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture. Transfer to a bowl. Clean mixer bowl well and dry thoroughly.
8. Whip egg whites until soft peaks form.
9. Mix in about a half cup of egg whites in to the batter, then fold the batter into the egg whites, gently until all egg whites streaks are gone.
10. Scoop into cupcake papers about two thirds full.
11. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

mise en place
mise en place


Thai Tea Creamy Filling

3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup Thai Tea syrup
4 large egg yolks

1. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix sugar, flour, and salt together and set aside.
3. In a small saucepan, bring milk and Thai Tea syrup to simmer over medium-low heat.
4. Pour about a half cup of the milk over the dry mixture and mix to combine.
5. Transfer back into the pan and continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. About 5 minutes.
6. Slowly add a small amount of the hot mixture to the eggs and mix to combine. Transfer back into the pan and continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for 3 minutes.
7. Transfer to a bowl, let cool for 10 minutes. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool.

Note: You will have extra filling. I decided against splitting the recipe in half as it uses the 4 egg yolks for the 4 whites in the cake recipe. If you don't want extra, try cutting the recipe in half.

thai tea syrup
thai tea syrup

Thai Tea Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 8-ounce package Phili cream cheese
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Thai Tea syrup
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1. Bring cheese and butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours.
2. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto parchment.
3. Beat butter and cheese at medium speed until creamy.
4. Add half of the sugar and 1/4 cup of Thai tea syrup. Beat until combined.
5. Gradually add remaining sugar (more if you have to) until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like. Add more syrup to get to the flavor you want. I added 2 more tablespoons.

the cone
the cone

thai tea cream filling
thai tea cream filling

tops back on
replaced top

1. Using a small pairing knife, cut off the top of the cupcake in the shape of a cone. Flip the top over and cut off the cone.
2. Fill the cavity with a teaspoon of cream filling.
3. Replace the top of the cone.
4. Frost then sprinkle with crushed Thai tea leaves.

thai tea cupcake and thai iced tea

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Ube Cupcakes with Bubble Buttercream

ube cupcake with bubble buttercream and topped with crushed peanuts and salt

This is definitely an experimental recipe... one that ended up tasting great, but, trust me, looked a bit funky.

I got introduced to Ube in the form of ice cream from Mitchell's Ice Cream here in San Francisco. I was ready to finally try an Ube cupcake recipe, so I went to Pacific Super, an awesome Asian grocery on Alemany Street not too far from where I live, and bought nearly everything Ube.

I reconstituted Ube powder per the instructions on the packet, but didn't like the taste very much at all. I boiled and mashed some fresh purple yams and they tasted much better. It was an easy decision to skip the powdered and go with the fresh.

One thing I didn't do, that I noticed the few recipes on the net did, is add food coloring. After my red velvet experience, I have been anti-food-coloring-in-batter. In this case, I think I would have been better off to relax my newfound prejudice...

The yams were a deep purple blue, which was great, but when mixed with the yellow egg yolks and other ingredients, the batter ended up a ghastly green. Maybe a little red food coloring would have balanced it out. On the other hand, I can say that the ghastly green is natural! Maybe a half cup of smashed beets might do the trick, if anyone cares to experiment even further.

One definite keeper for me is the topping of peanuts crushed with a good amount of salt. This is something I stole from a caterer friend. The salty-sweet taste is very satisfying.

Ube Cupcakes
24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3-4 small to medium purple yams (ube)
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil, grapeseed or vegetable
1/2 cup macapuno, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk milk

1. Peel and slice the yams into inch thick slices. Transfer into a medium pan, rinse, then cover with cool water. Bring to boil and simmer until tender. Mash with a fork
2. Crack eggs into a large bowl. Beat with a whisk until yellows and whites are combined.
3. Gradually add sugar and whisk until combined.
4. Add oil and whisk until combined. Add chopped macapuno and vanilla and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
5. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in another bowl.
6. Add about a third of the flour mixture to the wet mixture and mix to combine.
7. Add about one half of the buttermilk and mix to combined.
8. Repeat above, alternating flour and buttermilk and ending with the flour mixture.
9. Scoop into cupcake papers about half to two-thirds full (depending on whether you want flat or domed cupcakes. Note that these cupcakes will don't shrink. Two-thirds full will result in domed cupcakes.)
10. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

fresh ube (aka purple yam)
cooked ube

ube cupcake batter
ube cupcake batter

baked ube cupcake
baked ube cupcake

Bubble Buttercream

3 cups water
1/4 cup tapioca balls
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
5-6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Boil the water in a medium saucepan (I used the water from the yams).
2. Add the balls to the boiling water and boil for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Turn off heat and let the balls steep in the water for another 30 minutes.
4. Transfer balls to a sieve and rinse with cool water to remove starch. Transfer to a bowl and cover with cold water until ready to use.
5. Beat butter in an electric mixer until soft.
6. Add 3 cups of the sifted sugar and beat until combined.
7. Drain tapioca balls and measure out 1/2 cup. Fold into the frosting.
8. Add remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, stirring until combined.

Note: This frosting was very soft and almost looked a little curdled. It definitely has a not so pretty texture, but it tasted fine. The tapioca balls are a novelty and perhaps not necessary. There is the added interest of the chewy texture, but I am not sure it’s worth the sacrifice in the visual appeal. If you are looking for something picture perfect, definitely skip this recipe. It needs work.

tapioca balls
tapioca balls

1. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes.
2. Crush about a 1/3 cup of unsalted peanuts with about a teaspoon of salt. Sprinkle over cupcakes.