Hello, friends! How was your Christmas and your New Years? I hope you’ve gotten just what you wanted from Santa and spent your time surrounded by loved ones and good food. Hawaii has been oddly chilly, dipping into the high 60’s at night which is pretty unusual for this forever summer island. I haven’t been up to anything too interesting. I mostly spend my days sleeping in, maybe getting in a hike or a jog with Meli, ingesting some form of raw fish, and watching a movie with my parents before bed. I’ve also been doing a lot of the things I haven’t had time for when school’s in full swing – planning meals, recipe testing, and enjoying the brainstorming process of what to bake for the blog.
This year, for our annual New Years party, my mom requested I make some type of finger-food for dessert as we usually serve everything potluck style. Without all my kitchen gear handy, I defaulted to the simplest thing I could think of: cupcakes. I used the Milkbar recipe for funfetti cake (sans funfetti sprinkles) as the base, filled the centers with spoonfuls of silky smooth Lilikoi Butter exclusively from my high school’s carnival, piped out a big dollop of mascarpone frosting and finished it all off with fresh berries, a dusting of powdered sugar, and a star sparkler! Oh boy was that a mouthful.
By the end of the night, most if not all of the cupcakes had either been eaten or packed away as leftovers. We were only left with two, which are long gone. I’ll admit, I had to make sure my Dad wasn’t sneaking a few while I was photographing the cupcakes because he kept bothering me and asking when he could have one. On the plus side though, I had someone to eat all of the little cupcake centers I cut out!
Wishing you a wonderful start to 2017! Here’s to you and yours and all the goodness and love 2016 brought. I think we’ve all got some great things coming our way this year. I can just feel it 🙂
Sidenote: Sparklers HURT. Especially when holding one at close range to your hand/face. Believe me when I say that there are loads of photos of me grimacing and trying to smile through the pain!
Vanilla Cupcakes with Lilikoi Butter and Mascarpone Frosting
Cupcake recipe adapted from Momofuku Milkbar. Makes 19 cupcakes.
Notes: In this recipe, I used a locally made Lilikoi (Passion fruit) butter but you can also substitute with homemade or store-bought lemon curd. Every oven is different, but I found rotating the cupcakes half way through baking helped to make sure they rose evenly.
55g (4 tbsp or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
60g (1/3 cup) vegetable shortening
250g (1 1/4 cup) granulated sugar
50g (3 tbsp, tightly packed) light brown sugar
245g (2 cups) cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3 large eggs
110g (1/2 cup) buttermilk
65g (1/3 cup) grapeseed oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
for the cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake tins with silver cupcake liners. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, shortening, and sugars together until light and fluffy. About 2-3 minutes.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour baking powder, and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, and extract. Set aside.
4. Add the eggs one at a time to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on the lowest setting, stream in the wet ingredients. Beat well until there are no streaks of fat left. Add the flour in two additions, mixing until the batter is well combined but do not overmix.
5. Portion the batter into the cupcake tins, filling each about 1/2 way. Bake for 17-20 minutes, rotating the pan at the halfway point. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
6. Use a large piping tip to cut out a small cylinder in the center of each cupcake. Fill with the Lilikoi butter.
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese
6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
for the frosting:
7. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Add half of the powdered sugar and beat on high for another few minutes until the frosting is pale and the sugar fully incorporated.
8. Add the mascarpone and vanilla extract and beat on a lower setting until everything is evenly combined. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and beat for a few more minutes on high. The frosting should be smooth and a very pale, almost white color.
9. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip and frost each cupcake. Decorate with fresh raspberries and blueberries and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.