Let me just tell you how to start a day off right – surprise bagels at work. Due to the unfortunate event of one of my coworkers missing the bus, she decided to stop on her way to work and bring everyone bagels! These weren’t just any bagels either – they were Panera bagels! Panera bagels are huge, deliciously soft, and have the perfect chewy crust. So the other morning, as I was happily gnawing away at my chocolate chip bagel, schmeared with honey walnut cream cheese, the most amazing idea for a cupcake hit me! Chocolate chip walnut cupcakes with a honey cream cheese frosting!!!!
I’ve also been experimenting with one of my favorite cupcake bloggers recipes this week: The Cupcake Project’s Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake. *** I have to admit that I haven’t followed this recipe exactly as printed. But the techniques that The Cupcake Project incorporates into this recipe are extremely interesting to me. For example, one thing she recommends is that you beat the flour and little amount of butter that is called for into a fine crumb (similar to the technique of cutting the butter or shortening into the pie crust). This technique creates a light and fluffy cupcake with the perfect crumb. Usually, I use regular flour in my recipes, simply for the sake of convenience. However, in this recipe, she uses cake flour. Cake flour is basically extremely fine regular flour (no added baking soda or powder). It tends to create a silkier texture in the cake. I may have even been convinced to try cake flour in some of my other recipes. If you want to substitute cake flour in your recipes, simply use the following guideline: for every one cup of regular, all purpose flour, substitute one cup and two tablespoons of cake flour.
After using the Ultimate Vanilla recipe over the weekend to create my raspberry almond cupcakes for a confirmation party, I thought the recipe would lend itself well to my new bagel-inspired cupcake. The result was a light, fluffy, delicious cupcake speckled with chocolate and crunchy walnuts – the perfect balance – not too rich, not too sweet. I’m including the recipe I used with my own moderations.
1 c. sugar
1 ¾ c. cake flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ c. real unsalted butter (half a stick)
1/3 c. sour cream (Cupcake Project recommends full fat)
¼ c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. almond extract
2/3 c. heavy cream
1 cup chocolate chips
½ c. walnuts
To start, add the sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the mixer. Mix until incorporated. Then add the butter. I added mine cold and made sure to lock down my mixer and start on low speed – otherwise the flour will go flying! Let it beat until a fine crumb forms. While the mixer is running, mix in a separate bowl the eggs, sour cream, vegetable oil and almond extract. Slowly add the egg mixture to the flour mixture. When everything is just mixed (don’t over mix), slowly add the heavy cream. Next, mix in by hand chocolate chips and walnuts. Fill cupcake cups about ½ full and bake at 350 for around 19 minutes. In the original recipe the bake time is much lower (around 15 minutes), but I found with the addition of walnuts and chocolate chips, it takes a little longer. Just monitor it every couple of minutes and check with a toothpick.
Beat the snot out of one stick of cold butter. Add one brick of cold cream cheese and beat until smooth. Add one cup powdered sugar. Beat. Add 3 tbsp. of honey and beat. Do not overbeat otherwise you’re frosting will get too warm and not stand up on your cupcakes.
I really wanted to top this cupcake with candied walnuts… however, after two attempts, a dwindling supply of walnuts, and a short attention span, I gave up and topped them with toasted walnuts and some shaved chocolate.
***If you’d like to see the original Ultimate Vanilla recipe, here is the link: http://www.cupcakeproject.com/2011/09/ultimate-vanilla-cupcake-test-baked-by.html