As mentioned in an earlier post, I have to contend with a lot of Easter candy this time of year. Now that the kids all realize that I’m actually the Easter Bunny and the one who is responsible for buying all the candy, I try not to let the candy purchases get out of control. Sure, they still expect candy–filled eggs (even though EB has gone the way of Santa Claus). They also expect that I will find plenty of ways to use up all the candy. I’m not complaining, mind you. I enjoy making holiday goodies. The reason we always end up with so much candy is because try as I might, I can never limit myself to buying just my usual faves. I feel compelled to try out all the new candies and give them a shot at becoming part of my annual must–buy favorites list. Unfortunately, I’ve developed an affinity for many candies that not only taste good, but also make great looking baking decorations. These days, I have a lot to choose from.
This year, I created a recipe around one of my all–time favorite Easter candies—Robin Eggs. As it turns out, Robin Eggs (candy–coated, egg–shaped malt balls) make great–looking cupcake toppers. Yes, I know. This is the third post (in as many months) that I’ve done on cupcakes. Isn’t this site supposed to be about wine and all the various foods that go well with it? Well, I can easily say this recipe for Malt Velvet Cupcakes fits very nicely into Wine Imbiber’s repertoire of recipes. And with Rich still traveling, even I can venture a wine–pairing recommendation with these tasty little cakes. (It doesn’t take a sommelier to figure out what goes well with wedding cake—this isn’t much different.)
It was very simple to create malt–flavored cupcakes. I just took a basic white (vanilla) cake recipe and added some malt powder to it. You have to be careful, though, not too add too much. Malt is generally a subtle flavor (that is, until you add too much of it). It can create a strange aftertaste—one that defies description on my part. So, I consider it to be more of a flavor–enhancer and use it in much the same way I use salt (just enough to give the cake a little attitude).
The frosting is a basic American buttercream recipe (versus a French buttercream). American buttercream uses confectioners’ sugar and no eggs and dries stiff. French buttercream uses egg yolks, sugar syrup and butter and remains soft. It also needs to be refrigerated. As with the cupcakes, I just added some malt powder to the buttercream. But this time, I felt the need to add some cocoa powder as the malt flavor was lost in the frosting. Adding a little cocoa helped to cut the sweetness of the frosting (thereby enhancing the malt flavor). It makes sense when you consider that malted milk balls (like Whoppers) aren’t just balls of malt—they’e coated in chocolate.
Adding the crushed Robin Eggs for the topping completed the malt–theme nicely. I loved the visual effect of the colored candy coating layered on top of the chocolate along with the malt center. I had too much fun taking photos of the finished cupcakes. I visualized them in all kinds of scenarios (pictured here is only a small sampling!). Maybe next year I’ll have to create Robin Eggs art—much like all the Peeps art I saw flooding the Internet this year.
WI wine recommendation: Champagne, of course! (Didn’t you get the reference to wedding cake?) Prosecco is a suitable, less expensive alternative. In fact, almost any sparkling wine will go well with these cupcakes. Their flavor is very neutral, so take your pick (just make sure it’s a sparkling wine). These cupcakes lean on the rich side and need a bubbly to go with them.
Malt Velvet Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
1 cup milk
2–1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large egg whites
3 cups cake flour
1–1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup malt powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3–1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons malt powder
1–1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder (baking chocolate)
16 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
Optional: Robin Eggs malted milk candy, coarsely crushed, or other decorations
Preheat oven to 350° F. Set up your cupcake tray with liners. If using paper party cups (like I did), set them out on a baking sheet.
Mix together 1/4 cup of the milk, vanilla extract and the egg whites in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, malt powder, salt and all the baking powder. Continue to blend together with a hand mixer until fully incorporated.
Add the remaining 3/4 cup milk and all the butter to the bowl and continue mixing on medium speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the mixer to high speed and add the egg white mixture in three parts, beating for half a minute between additions.
Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 full. If using the paper party cups, I find that filling them only 2/3 full produces the best size cupcake.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15–20 minutes (or until a toothpick tests clean). Allow cupcakes to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing them to a rack to cool completely.
In a large bowl, sift together the first 3 ingredients until fully incorporated. Beat in the remaining ingredients (except the candy) until smooth.
Spread icing onto fully cooled cupcakes with a spatula. Apply candy decorations by slightly pressing into icing. Don’t wait too long to apply smaller toppings (the icing sets up hard and they won’t adhere well).
There is no need to refrigerate these cupcakes because the icing doesn’t contain eggs.
Makes 2 dozen cupcakes.
April 16, 2009 at 11:08 am
very lovely looking cupcakes:)