Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lemon Doughnut Cream Puffs

A while back, I made a batch of cream puffs that I never ended up sharing on my blog.  I don't quite remember why - it could have been that I simply had too many recipes queued up to post and couldn't get them all written up (a problem I don't seem to be experiencing lately with being so busy with the house that I am baking less), or maybe I just wasn't that excited about the photos I took.  These days, a bad photo shoot will stop me from posting a perfectly good recipe as I have begun to place more importance on quality over quantity.

But for whatever reason, those cream puffs will forever be relegated to the dusty archives of almost-forgotten baking experiments, of which there are many others.

We've had a round of colds and coughs run its course at our house, although my husband has been much sicker than I have been.  I seemed to have lucked out with a one-day cold on Sunday, if a one-day cold is even possible.  So we spent the day binge-watching Season 5 of The Walking Dead, my new favorite show.  But he's been coughing and sniffling for a couple of weeks now, and last night I made a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup.

I don't even like chicken noodle soup, really, which I realize makes me sort of odd.  Most people crave it.  But I crave hearty soups like spicy chicken and corn soup, or my absolute favorite, bean and ham soup.  In most chicken noodle soups, the egg noodles are so slimy and slippery in the broth, which I find incredibly unappealing, so I rectified that by using Italian orecchiette pasta which had a nice al dente bite.  I also added a can of unsweetened coconut milk for a little creaminess.  I have to admit, it was pretty good after all.

My husband would prefer that I make him doughnuts, though, which he insists that, combined with constant caressing and massages, would speed up his recovery.

While thinking about those not-quite-forgotten cream puffs, or profiteroles, which is a much more interesting word, I thought I'd make a batch of doughnut cream puffs.  Not quite officially cream puffs, since they're not made with a choux pastry, they are very cream puff-like with light and airy fried dough, tart lemon cream filling and a dusting of powdered sugar.  Fresh lemon zest adds a bright touch to balance the late spring snowfall of sugar.

We froze the leftovers, and they're just as good as fresh, when microwaved for a few seconds.  Perhaps I should test my husband's theory tonight, and see if a plateful of these for dessert gets rid of his cough.  Not likely, though.

Lemon Doughnut Cream Puffs

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • olive oil, for frying
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd
  • powdered sugar, for dusting
  • freshly grated lemon zest

Warm the milk in a saucepan or in the microwave until the temperature reaches between 110-115 degrees F.  Pour into the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Sprinkle with the yeast and sugar; let stand 5 minutes until foamy.

With the mixer on low, add the butter, egg, salt and half the flour, mix to combine, and gradually add the remainder of the flour.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed for 4-5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and starts to pull away from the bowl.  If the dough is slightly loose and sticky, don't add more flour.  Dump the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about one hour.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thick.  Cut the dough with a 1 1/2 inch round cutter, then gather any scraps and cut those as well.  Place the doughnuts on parchment lined baking sheets, cover with clean towels, and set aside to rest and rise again for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat three inches of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, until the oil reaches 365F.  Working in batches with 5 or 6 doughnuts at a time, fry the doughnuts until golden brown, about 1 minute on each side.  Drain on a wire rack and let cool slightly.

For the filling, whip the cream cheese, whipping cream and lemon curd until thick and smooth.  Pipe into the doughnuts.  Dust them generously with powdered sugar and grate lemon zest over top, and serve immediately.

Yields about 3 dozen mini doughnut cream puffs

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Somewhere Over the Rainbow Cake

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
There's a land that I heard of, once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true

Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops that's where
You'll find me

Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow. Why, then, oh, why can't I?
If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow, why, oh, why can't I?

Who doesn't love the moment in The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy wakes up from black-and-white Kansas to the colorful Munchkinland?  I still love that movie.  I remember my mom taking us to go see a play of The Wizard of Oz, and I insisted on wearing my own blue and white gingham dress for the occasion.  I don't think I had the sparkly red shoes to go with it, but I still wondered if everyone would think that I was really Dorothy.

I'm usually able to narrow my photos down a little better and not overwhelm a post with too many photos of the same thing, and yet, as I was editing my photos of this cake, each one prettier than the last, I just couldn't help but share more than usual.

The buttercream stripes are one of my favorite techniques I've used over the past year.  You can see other examples in my purple and white ombre Watercolor Striped Cake, my Neapolitan Cake, the colorful Little Birdie Cake, and my Stripes and Polkadots Strawberry Rhubarb Cake.

I love stripes, and I can't get enough.

I kept the colors in this cake very pale, so they would blend together with a beautiful watercolor effect.  I'm so in love with it.

And the way the stripes in the buttercream parallel the stripes of the cake layers...  it makes my heart skip a little beat.

But let's talk about the flavor of the cake, too.  The design was all I thought about until it came time to bake the cake, and when I saw a can of coconut milk in the pantry, I impulsively decided on a vanilla coconut milk cake.  And it's fantastic.  Moist and dense, creamy and subtly coconuty.

As if the stripes and clouds and coconut milk aren't enough, it has paper kites, too.  Paper kites!  These were so fun and easy to make - just a little paper, toothpicks, hot glue, twine and wire.  One of the most adorable cake toppers I think I've made.

I took the cake to work for my coworkers to sample and heard comments such as these:

"It tastes like marshmallow clouds."
"This cake was kissed by angels."
"Only a person with no soul would cut into the cloud on top".

These things make my day.  Now, let's go fly a kite together and chase a rainbow into Munchkinland.

  1. Even full fat (not "lite") cans of coconut milk can vary wildly in their cream content - some are almost solid coconut cream, while others are very watery with little cream.  If you open yours and find that it's too watery, just use half, and supplement the rest with sour cream for a richer flavor in your cake. 
  2. With the colors, I was aiming for very pale, pastel colors, and it doesn't take more than a drop of gel food coloring to achieve pastel colors in the cake batter, and maybe half a drop for the buttercream.  Add the tiniest bit of color, mix it in, and then add a tiny bit more if needed.  You can always add more color, but you can't take it out if you add too much. 
  3. You need to decorate this cake on a turntable.  It will be very difficult to smooth out the sides and blend the colors together cleanly without one.
  4. While I don't have a photo tutorial for making the kites, the steps are very simple.  First, cut card stock into the shape of a kite.  Use a small hole-punch to punch a hole at the bottom, and run a piece of twine through the hole, tying it in a bow.  Then, use wire cutters to snip wooden toothpicks to the right length for the pieces on the back, and hot-glue them into place.  Finally, to give the illusion that they're flying over the cake, take a piece of wire and twist it into a loose spiral; hot-glue one end of the wire to the back of the kite, hold it in place until the glue hardens and stick the other end in the cake.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/3 cups unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk (not quite a full 14 ounce can)
  • food coloring

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons cream or milk, if needed
  • food coloring

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease six 8-inch pans, then line the bottoms with a circle of parchment paper.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, sugar and butter on medium speed for 5 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating for a full minute before adding the next one.  Beat in the vanilla and coconut extracts.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the coconut milk, starting and ending with the flour.

Divide the batter equally into six bowls and tint with food coloring in rainbow colors.  Pour into the pans, spread the batter out to evenly cover the bottom of the pans and bake for 14-16 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely in the pans, on wire racks, covered loosely with clean kitchen towels.  The beauty of this recipe is that the cakes will bake flat, moist and dense, perfect for stacking many layers with no need to level the cakes.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and shortening for 1 minute until smooth.  With the mixer on low, stir in the powdered sugar and meringue powder until moistened.  Add the vanilla extract and the cream/milk, then increase speed to medium high; whip for 4-5 minutes until very light and fluffy.  Do not tint the buttercream yet.

Assembly and Decorating.
Place the purple cake on a cake board.  Frost with a very thin coat of buttercream.  Repeat with the rest of the layers, from purple to blue, green, yellow, orange, up to the pink cake on top.  Frost all over with a very thin crumb coat of buttercream.  Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, set aside about 1/2 cup of the white, untinted buttercream - this is for the clouds.

Divide the remaining buttercream into 6 bowls; the portions should be fairly equal, except for the pink, which should have a little more than the rest.  Tint each portion with your food coloring, being extremely careful not to add too much color.

Fit a piping bag with a round piping tip (I used Wilton #12).  Scrape the purple buttercream into the bag, squeezing it all the way down to the bottom, then scrape the blue buttercream right on top of the purple.

Take your chilled cake out of the fridge and set it on a decorating turntable.  Starting at the bottom, pipe the buttercream in even rows (see photo above), all the way around the cake, making sure each row touches the next.  As you pipe the buttercream, all of the purple will come out first for your bottom rows, then the blue will come out after to continue the watercolor rainbow effect. After you use up the purple and blue, use a clean bag for the green and yellow, then a third clean bag for the orange and pink, piping the pink on up to the top of the cake to cover the top.

Now, take a bench scraper or pastry scraper, hold it at about a 45-degree angle to the cake and lightly sweep it around the sides of the cake on a continuous motion - this is where it is extremely beneficial to decorate your cake on a turntable so that you can turn it with one hand while you smooth the buttercream with the other.  Without one, this step will be difficult for you.  You are not trying to remove much frosting, so use a light hand - you are simply smoothing out any air bubbles and blending the colors together.  Sweep around the cake several times, wiping the bench scraper clean with a paper towel each time around, until you're satisfied with the result.  Smooth out the top.

Use a clean piping bag to pipe the clouds onto the cake.  Top with paper kites for a fun, whimsical effect.

Recipe and Design from Curly Girl Kitchen

Monday, March 23, 2015

Banana Caramel Ice Cream

Whenever I make homemade ice cream, my husband begins dropping hints about cookies.  He loves to eat ice cream in the form of an ice cream cookie sandwich, so yesterday I also made a batch of big, chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, similar to this recipe, but with chocolate chips instead of nuts and raisins.

For the ice cream, I started by caramelizing bananas in butter and brown sugar, then finished them with a splash of bourbon, which hissed and created quite a fuss when it hit the hot skillet.  I pureed most of the caramelized bananas, but left some chunky, to add to my standard ice cream custard base.

After churning the ice cream, I dropped in spoonfuls of homemade salted caramel sauce and swirled it throughout.  It was this moment - the moment where you can wait no longer to taste - that we both had to sample several spoonfuls and decided that this really is the most incredible ice cream.

It's everything I want with its chunky but creamy texture, the salty and sweet notes of almost-burnt caramel, the freshness of the bananas with the rich flavor of egg yolks, cream and butter.

This is an ice cream that says goodbye to winter and welcomes the fresh air of spring with open arms.

I like my ice cream on the soft side, and I think this ice cream is better when, after having frozen until firm, you let it soften at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before scooping.

Banana Caramel Ice Cream

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 firm bananas
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon or whiskey
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel sauce
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Peel and slice the bananas into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Place the banana slices in a single layer in the hot butter and sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons brown sugar.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until browned and caramelized.

Remove from the heat, add the bourbon and swirl around.  Scrape 2/3 of the mixture into a food processor and pulse until smooth (note, puree all of the bananas for a smoother texture, otherwise, leave some un-pureed for some frozen chunks of banana throughout the ice cream).  Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the cream and milk.  In a bowl, whisk together the 1/3 cup brown sugar, egg yolks and salt.  Warm the milk/cream over medium low heat until hot to the touch.  Whisk 1 cup of the hot cream into the egg mixture, then scrape the warmed egg mixture into the saucepan.  Cook the custard while whisking constantly, until thickened enough to coat a spoon.  Remove from the heat and pour through a mesh strainer to remove any bits of cooked egg.  Whisk in the vanilla and bananas.  Cover with plastic wrap, resting right against the surface of the custard, and refrigerate until completely chilled, preferably overnight.

Churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer's instructions for your ice cream maker.  Scrape into a chilled container, drizzle with the caramel, and swirl it throughout.  Freeze until firm, about 4-6 hours.

Yields about 2 quarts

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Mini Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Vanilla Glaze

Cinnamon rolls are usually a treat I reserve for the holidays, especially for Christmas morning, but when inspiration for mini cinnamon rolls drizzled with orange glaze took hold, I couldn't help but succumb, even though it's March.

The prep time is an hour and a half, which can be an agonizingly long time to wait for the scent of warm cinnamon and sugar to fill your kitchen, but a well-risen cinnamon roll takes time and is worth the wait.

I baked the adorably tiny rolls in my mini muffin pan, which I rarely have occasion to use, and they puffed up so beautifully golden brown, with their amber buttery swirls of cinnamon and sugar tempting a quick taste.

And although you could drizzle some melted butter over top and call it a day, I like finishing cinnamon rolls with a glaze that crusts over.  It's the contrast between that sugary glaze and the soft yeasty roll that I love.

They looked so pretty, that I couldn't help admiring them for a few minutes, but they're best eaten warm and fresh, so we didn't wait long to taste them.  Even a few days later, they were still some of the best cinnamon rolls I've ever had, and softened right up with a few seconds in the microwave.

When there were only three left, I tore them up and placed them in a bowl with milk and a beaten egg, letting them soak up the custard for an hour before baking it into a bread pudding, a dessert that Jamie adores.  He ate the cinnamon roll bread pudding with a spoonful of caramel on top.

Mini Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Vanilla Glaze

  • 2/3 cup whole milk, warmed to between 110-115 F
  • 1/3 cup raisins, optional
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 packet active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Cinnamon Rolls.
Measure the milk into a saucepan or microwaveable dish, add the raisins, and warm to between 110-115 degrees F.  Pour into the bowl of your stand mixer.  Sprinkle with the sugar and yeast, and let stand for 5 minutes until foamy.  Add the remaining ingredients, reserving 1/2 cup of the flour.  Mix with the dough hook until combined, then knead on medium speed for 7-8 minutes, gradually adding the remaining 1/2 cup flour, until smooth and the dough pulls away from the bowl.

Place in a greased bowl, cover with a towel, and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick, into a long rectangle measuring 24 inches long by 8 inches wide.  Brush with the melted butter, then sprinkle with the sugars and cinnamon.

Roll the dough up to form a log 24 inches long.  Use a sharp knife, dipping it in flour as needed, to cut into 24 1-inch rolls.

Grease a mini muffin pan (it should have 24 molds) and place the cinnamon rolls cut side up in the pan.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest and rise again for about 30 minutes while you preheat the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Bake the rolls for 13-15 minutes until golden brown.

While the rolls are baking, make the glaze.

In a saucepan, whisk together everything except the powdered sugar.  Over medium low heat, whisk the mixture to dissolve the sugar.  Gradually whisk in the powdered sugar until smooth.

Remove the rolls from the oven.  Immediately, drizzle the hot glaze over the hot rolls; the glaze should set in 5-10 minutes.

Serve the rolls warm.

Yields 24 (2-3 per person)

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Monday, March 16, 2015

Fresh Mint and Lime Kiss Me Cake

After searching for some vintage metal lockers for storing all my art supplies and photography equipment, I finally found the perfect set on Craigslist for a reasonable price, so Saturday morning, we headed to downtown Denver to pick them up.  We were confused when we arrived at the address and didn't find a house, but rather an old mansion that looked more like a hotel.  After standing outside for a few minutes wondering if someone was going to meet us outside, we opened the tall black iron gate and knocked on the door.

The man who answered was in fact the man who had placed the for-sale ad, and the mansion was a murder mystery dinner theater and bed and breakfast that he and his wife owned and live in.  He led us toward a secret door that was concealed by a bookcase - so very Nancy Drew! - and down a narrow staircase to the basement.  Amidst piles of theater props, makeup and costumes were the lockers, perfect with their rusted, peeling paint.  I wished we could look around the old house and discover all its secrets, but business was done and we had work to do on our own house that day.

The rest of the day was spent doing demo work on our fireplace wall, tearing out all the drywall that formed the 90's style cubbies, in order for Jamie to put in classic built-ins on either side of the fireplace, a brick frame and hearth, and a real mantle.  It's going to look so amazing, but we will be living in a construction zone for a while now.

The day was exhausting, and I don't remember working so hard in a long time (maybe not since moving day), and even today, all of my muscles are reminding me of what a day of tearing out drywall feels like.  I took a shower, and Jamie sweetly went to pick up sushi for dinner, along with a jar of lime curd that I needed for this cake.

I've never been all that into St. Patrick's Day, but that said, I am always into celebrating an occasion with cake.  I keep a list of ideas for cake recipes, decorating ideas, and general inspiration with me at all times, and it's a longer list than I could ever hope to get through, but as I was scanning through it the other day, I saw my note for a "mint and lime cake", and decided that now was the time to write up the recipe.  Since mint and lime are both fresh and green, it seemed like the perfect combination for a St. Patrick's Day cake, especially considering this beautiful spring weather we've been enjoying lately.

After such a long day, and with more work to do on Sunday, I opted for store-bought lime curd instead of making my own.  The ironic part was that suddenly, every grocery store in our neighborhood seemed to no longer carry lime curd, so Jamie ended up bringing home a jar of key lime pastry filling, which was actually very good, delightfully tart, and not too sweet.  It made for a good substitution.

The mint cake is light and airy, subtly scented with fresh mint leaves.  Filled with the tart key lime pastry filling and frosted with zesty lime cream cheese buttercream, it tastes like a spring day, if spring could be epitomized in a cake.

I piped small rosettes for a simple decoration, and topped the cake with a white paper flower and "kiss me" bunting.  So sweet and pretty.

Fresh Mint and Lime Cake

  • handful of fresh mint leaves (about 20 leaves)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Buttercream and Filling.
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • zest of 2 limes
  • 4 1/2 - 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1 cup lime curd or key lime pastry filling

Take half the mint leaves, crush slightly with a fork, and place in a bowl.  Warm the milk until hot to the touch; pour over the leaves and let steep for 1 hour.  Strain the milk and discard the leaves.  Finely chop the remaining mint leaves.

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease three 8-inch cake pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together the chopped mint, milk, cake mix, eggs, sour cream, olive oil and vanilla until smooth.  Divide between the cake pans and bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese and lime zest until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar and meringue powder on low to combine, then beat for several minutes until fluffy.

To assemble, place one cake, bottom side up, on a cake pedestal or cake board.  Spread with half the lime curd.  Repeat with a second layer of cake and the rest of the lime curd, then place the last cake on top.  Frost all over with a thin crumb coat of buttercream, chill for 30 minutes, then frost with a final coat.

Recipe and Design by Curly Girl Kitchen

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Orange Poppyseed Cupcakes with Orange Curd and Salted Pistachio Crumble

The sun has been shining more warmly every day, and this afternoon I noticed a few flower shoots poking up out of the dirt in our back yard.

It definitely feels like spring is about to make an appearance soon.

And even while I suspect that we haven't seen the last of winter here in Colorado, and we're sure to have another snowstorm (or two), I can't help but get excited for spring.  We even slept with the window open the other night.

I've been loving fresh oranges the last few months, and while they tend to be at their best in the winter, they look just like sunshine on a warm spring day.

With a combination of navel and cara cara oranges, I cooked a batch of creamy orange curd.  Fluffy orange poppyseed cupcakes were next, with fresh orange zest and juice to flavor the cake.

For the buttercream, I decided on a sweet buttercream flavored with pure maple syrup, but salted to cut the sweetness.  Oh, my gosh.  I could eat that salted maple buttercream with a spoon.  I piped rings of buttercream onto the cupcakes, and filled the centers with the sweet tangy orange curd.  Lastly, a sprinkling of salted pistachios.

They were so beautiful, I just wanted to sit and look at them.  But they tasted just as lovely.

Orange Poppyseed Cupcakes with Orange Curd and Salted Pistachio Crumble

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons poppyseeds
Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with 24 paper liners.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat all cupcake ingredients for 2-3 minutes, until smooth.  Divide between the liners and bake for 14-15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack, covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel.

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 3-4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar and meringue powder and mix on low to combine.  Add the syrup, salt and cream, and whip on medium high for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Orange Curd.
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold
Note: the curd should be made a day in advance and chilled in the refrigerator.  Two oranges should yield enough juice and zest for the recipe.

Assemble a double boiler by placing a heatproof bowl over a saucepan or saucepot filled with several inches of water.  Bring the water to a simmer.  The bottom of the bowl should not be touching the water.

In the bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, orange zest and orange juice.  Stirring constantly, cook the mixture until thick enough to coat a spoon, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the cold butter, a tablespoon at a time.  Pour the curd through a mesh strainer to remove the zest, then chill completely.

Pipe the buttercream onto the cooled cupcakes to form a buttercream ring.  Just before serving, fill the centers with a teaspoon of the chilled orange curd, then garnish with chopped salted pistachios.

Important Note: Homemade curd tends to be thinner than the storebought stuff, and can become very thin and liquidy when left at room temperature.  It is important that the cupcakes be refrigerated once you add the curd on top.  For best results, wait to add the curd until just before serving, as it can soak into the cupcakes and run over the edges.