Vanilla Cupcakes with Rose Pink Pomegranate Buttercream

Vanilla Cupcakes with Rose Pink Pomegranate Buttercream

  Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, which means it’s the perfect time to bake something pink and adorn it with pretty flowers! So, I broke out my seldom used muffin tin and put my rusty cupcake frosting skills to work and made these vanilla cupcakes with rose pink pomegranate buttercream. It’s been quite some time since I last made cupcakes or just a plain, yellow cake for that matter. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever come up with a yellow vanilla cake for the blog, so this is probably a first. After two failures and thirty cornbread (they literally looked like cornbread, thanks, chickens!) cupcakes later, I finally got my ratios right. The outcome was a soft, moist, and not too custardy-tasting cupcake. The frosting came out smooth, and not too sweet; with a pleasant tang and rosy pink hue from the pomegranate juice. I was originally going to use a fresh pomegranate but found it was much easier to use the bottled juice instead. 

  Then came the recollection of why I don’t like making cupcakes in the first place: frosting cupcakes. You would think it easy compared to a layer cake, but damn it’s difficult to get these things looking good! Seriously though, it’s an art and it takes lots of practice. Out of twelve cupcakes, I was only able to frost five. FIVE. The rest I may or may not have stabbed with the frosting spatula and angrily ate. In the end, it was nothing a few mini-roses and baby’s breath couldn’t fix. Overall, I’m quite happy with how these cupcakes turned out, even if it was just five that made the cut.


Vanilla Cupcakes with Rose Pink Pomegranate Buttercream

  ingredients: makes about 15 cupcakes

180 grams (1 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour

64 grams (1/2 cup) cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

226 grams (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

196 grams (1 cup) sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

1 large egg, room temp. 

3 large egg whites, room temp.

107 grams (1/2 cup) coconut milk (preferably the brand ‘So Delicious Dairy Free Original Coconut Milk’), room temp.

  frosting:

339 grams (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temp.

3 cups powdered sugar

2/3 cups pomegranate juice, room temp.

2 tablespoons coconut milk, room temp.

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt (use more if needed)


  method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F / 177° C. Prepare a muffin tin with paper baking cups.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract on high speed until pale and fluffy; about 3-5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl half-way through. Add the whole egg and beat on low until combined. Scrape down the bowl and add the egg whites. Beat on low until combined. With the mixer still on low, add half the flour and half the coconut milk to the creamed mixture; once just combined, add the remaining 1/2 of the flour and milk. Beat until the flour is just incorporated(don’t over mix!). Using an ice cream scoop, spoon the batter into the baking cups, filling them half-way full. Use a spoon to spread them around until they’re even in the cups. Bake 17-19 minutes, checking for doneness at the 17-minute mark. If not done, bake for two more minutes. Immediately remove the cupcakes (carefully) from the muffin tin and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely. 
  3. Meanwhile, beat together the butter, powdered sugar, and salt until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add the vanilla, coconut milk, and pomegranate juice. Beat on high speed for 4-5 minutes until voluminous, smooth, and light. Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, frost then decorate with fresh flowers if desired.

Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly

 Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly

It was about to rain and the temperature quite hot that day, but I came home with eight pounds of scrumptious peaches. Peaches are one of my favorite aspects of early summer; they’re one of those fruits I could eat morning, noon, to dusk and never grow tired. And they’re absolutely delicious and juicy when you find them local.Per my usual, I set aside one day out of the week and drove eighty minutes to one of my favorite orchards, just twenty miles west of the quaint city that is Charlottesville, Virginia. The orchard is nestled amongst rolling mountains and the drive there and back is always so peaceful.

Per my usual, I set aside one day out of the week and drove eighty minutes to one of my favorite orchards- just twenty miles west of the quaint city that is Charlottesville, Virginia. The orchard is nestled amongst rolling mountains, making the drive there a scenic and enjoyable one, which is why I love it so.

Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly

This recipe makes the first time I have baked an olive oil cake or eaten one for that matter. It took me quite a few times to get it to my liking. At least my chickens were happy with the first few tries. Olive oil cake is on the lighter side when it comes to sweetness, but it’s nevertheless moist, rich, and airy in texture due to the olive oil. The oil flavor is noticeable, but not in an overpowering way. To make it even more delicious, I added freshly cut peaches which are speckled about in each slice of cake. It’s usually eaten with an addition of fresh fruit, powdered sugar, or with some sort of glaze; I thought it best with a pillowy layer of crème Chantilly (whipped cream), sweetened and flavored with honey and a bit of vanilla. 

Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly


Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly

  ingredients:

240 grams unbleached all-purpose flour, { 2 cups } 

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

150 grams raw cane sugar, { 3/4 cups }

3 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 cups good quality olive oil { extra-virgin }

3/4 cups milk, room temperature

3 large ripe peaches

1/4 cup raw cane sugar

   crème chantilly:

1 cup cold heavy cream

2 tablespoons good quality honey

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

   method:

  1. Chop the three ripe peaches into small cubes and place them in a medium-sized saucepan with the sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, gently stirring often. Once boiling, decrease the heat to low and simmer for 3-4 minutes until the peaches are soft, but not mushy(make sure to stir every few seconds or so so it doesn’t burn) and there seems to be a lot of liquid. Remove from heat and pour the peaches over a sieve to drain the sugary juice*. Cool the peaches before adding to the cake batter. You can cool them quickly by placing them in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350ºF / 177ºC. Grease and line with parchment paper one, 8-inch cake pan (or two 6-inch pans) and set aside.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar with an electric hand mixer until pale, fluffy, and thick (3-4 minutes on high speed). Add the oil and beat on low until just combined. Add the flour and milk and stir gently with a wooden spoon or spatula for three turns, then add half of the peaches and stir (gently) until all the ingredients are combined, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl for flour. Do not over-mix.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and sprinkle in the remaining peaches. Bake for 40 minutes, but check for doneness at 35 minutes. It’s done when lightly golden in color and a toothpick comes out clean after being inserted into the center. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then gently invert onto wire racks to cool completely.
  5. Place a medium sized bowl and a whisk in the freezer for 3 minutes to chill. Add the cream, honey, and vanilla and whisk by hand until stiff peaks form. This may take up to five minutes. You can also use an electric mixer if you’d like. 
  6. Place the cooled cake on a plate and dollop on the whipped cream. Top with fresh fruit and more honey if you’d like. Store -covered- in the refrigerator for up to three days.

*You can re-use this sugary peach juice in iced tea for a sweet, peachy flavor; or, you could stir it into plain, unsweetened yogurt. Even better, you could pour it all over this cake! 

Cherry and Thyme Hand Pies with Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream

Cherry and Thyme Hand Pies with Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream

  It’s officially cherry season in the state of Virginia. My first thought at the beginning of any fruit season is to bake a pie with the fruit I’ve obtained from the farms in my area. And that’s precisely what I did when I discovered my usual grocery store of choice was selling fresh, local sweet cherries from one of my favorite orchards. Such a find can be a rarity in my small town, there’s a slim selection of local vegetables in the summer if any; in the fall there might be apples. But, when it comes to common fruits such as strawberries, peaches, or blueberries, you can only find them at the farmers market once a week. Many times I’ll drive up to an hour to pick fruit from the local u-pick farms in my area, as I love going out and about to visit beautiful places.

  Each pie is filled with a delicious cherry jam, subtly flavored with fresh thyme. Accompanying these hand pies is a creamy, no-churn vanilla bourbon ice cream. There are many no-churn ice creams out there that commonly call for heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk- a canned milk with the water removed and a copious amount of sugar added to make a sweet, sticky dairy product. The condensed milk is usually folded into the whipped cream and the flavoring(s) of your choice is added. Once frozen, the result is a rich and creamy ice cream. To avoid so much sugar, I simply made my own sweetened condensed milk that doesn’t use any canned dairy product, but instead raw cashews and maple syrup. Just blend until smooth and creamy and fold into the fresh, whipped cream along with a good quality bourbon and vanilla.

CHERRY AND THYME HAND PIES WITH BOURBON VANILLA ICE CREAM


   bourbon vanilla ice cream

1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight then drained

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons good quality bourbon

1 1/3 cups heavy cream

  cherry + thyme jam

1-pounds sweet cherries, pitted and stems removed

2 fresh thyme sprigs

1 1/2 cups raw sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

  pie dough

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon raw sugar

12 tablespoons salted butter, cold

5-6 tablespoons water, ice-cold

   method

  1. In a high-powered blender, add the maple syrup, vanilla, bourbon and the cashews; blend until smooth and creamy. This may take a few minutes depending on your blender. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks, then gently fold in the cashew mixture with a spatula until combined. Place the mixture in an air-tight container and freeze for 2 hours until firm, or overnight.
  2. In a saucepan, add the cherries and lemon juice and mash them slightly, then add the thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then add the sugar. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often until the cherries are very soft and the sugar has dissolved. Remove the thyme. Cool the jam completely before using. 
  3. In a bowl, lightly whisk the flour, salt, and sugar together. Pour into a food processor and add the cold butter, cut into cubes. Pulse until small, pea-sized pieces form(it’s okay if there are larger chunks, too). Pour back into the bowl and add three tablespoons of ice cold water to one side of the bowl; then gently work the flour into the water with a fork. Add more water, one tablespoon at a time, when needed. You should be able to gently work it into a ball. Split the dough into four, golf ball sized pieces and gently press them into disks. Wrap each one in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes or until ready to use.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a rimmed baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. 
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough disks, one at a time, until they’re about 4 1/2 inches in diameter. Move them onto the prepared baking sheet and place in the freezer for about 2 minutes to quickly become firm again. Add the jam to the center of each disk, leaving an inch of space from the edge. Fold one side of the dough over the jam and crimp the two sides together until sealed. Gently press a fork around the sealed edges. Brush the tops with egg wash (1 egg, beaten) and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown. Cool until just warm, then serve with the ice cream.