Wednesday, April 27, 2011

{DBC} maple mousse-filled almond cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

I am not the biggest fan of splatter films. Mainly because of the unnecessary amount of disturbing gore.

Do I care how many ways the directors of Resident Evil can hack and slash away at their poor, defenseless protagonists?

Do I really want to sit down and agree to watch a marathon of Scream films on my own volition?

Does it interest me how many of my irrational fears Saw is able to play on and give me nightmares for days?

Not in the least.

Ironic, given how much Assassin's Creed I've played this semester, but that's besides the point.

So you can imagine my unwillingness to watch Zombieland back when it had just been released. You can also imagine how persuasive my cousins and sister can be.

Truth be told, despite the gore, it was a sweet movie. Bizarrely profound, too, for a zombie flick.

Rule #32: Enjoy the little things.

Now, I'm not really one for proverbs, particularly cheesy ones that appear in pop culture as a sad excuse for contemporary philosophy. But I'm also a cheesy person, at heart, and some of them strike in me a chord that resonates more than it probably should.

But I loved that line.

Loved it for its simplicity, its accuracy, its innocent optimism.

Loved it for the juxtaposition of a group of nondescript individuals trying to survive in a world falling apart around them, with sheer determination and will to survive solely in order to finally enjoy a Twinkie.

...I could do without the Twinkie, but the sentiment remains the same.

It has been a long month, to be honest. I've been ready for it to be over since week one. It just felt like swimming in an endless sea of work, papers, studying, stress, with no lifeboat in sight to guide me back to shore. But upon reflection, it wasn't bad at all. Heard some phenomenal news from a friend, visited a few other dear friends who I hadn't seen in months, strolled through grounds on quiet, breezy evenings, got a few new clients for henna, played an obscene amount of video games that would probably shame a college male, and baked.

Baked cupcakes, again, if you can believe. The April Daring Baker's Challenge was a maple mousse serve in an edible container. At first I thought, chocolate cups, of course. But chocolate and maple? Sugar overkill. So that idea was shot.

For a minute I was stressed out. Heart pounding, mind racing, eyes darting across cookbook pages to try to determine what on earth I could do instead. Bacon cups were definitely an option, and were actually recommended in the challenge recipe. But...expensive, since I would have purchased turkey bacon, and would have needed quite a lot of it.

And then it hit me: almond. I love almond and maple together. But I didn't want to make a nut crust out of almonds and almond flour, because I speculated that it wouldn't have held up well. So instead, I [with tons and tons of help from Tommy and Noosh, as always!] went with an almond cupcake, hollowed out some of the inside cake, piped it with maple mousse, topped with a neutral cream cheese frosting, and warm, crispy turkey bacon.

[Yes, I was skeptical at first too, with the bacon, but really? It's delicious. Just...delicious.]

Maple Mousse
Adapted from the April Daring Baker's Challenge

You'll need:
  • 8 oz pure maple syrup
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 package [1 tbsp] unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

In a medium saucepan over medium-high flame, bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks. Pour in some of the hot maple syrup into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs. Pour the egg yolks back into the saucepan and whisk thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, pour 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and sprinkle gelatin on top. Let sit for 5 minutes, then heat for 45 seconds in the microwave (in increments of 10-15 seconds) until gelatin dissolves completely. Whisk the gelatin mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.

Whisk maple syrup mixture occasionally for an hour, or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.

Whip the remaining heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup to lighten the syrup. Fold in the remaining cream. Refrigerate for at least an hour to set.

Remove from fridge and divide mousse equally among serving dishes. Keep chilled until serving.

Almond Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Sugarplum Musings and Cathy's Kitchen Journey
Makes 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes, you'll need:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup [1 1/2 sticks] butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsps almond extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 egg whites, at room temperature

For the cream cheese frosting, you'll need:
  • 1 8-oz package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cupcake pan with papers.

In a large bowl, beat butter on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add in sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add in extracts. In a separate bowl, combine flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Mix until just combined. Set aside.

In a clean, dry, stainless steal bowl, whisk egg whites until stiff peak forms. Mix 1/3 of the egg whites into the cupcake batter, to lighten the batter. Gently fold in remaining egg whites.

Divide batter equally among cupcake papers, filling each paper about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Let cool in pan for at least 10 minutes before removing.

To prepare the cream cheese frosting, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on medium-high speed until fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add in confectioner's sugar. Mix until smooth, and refrigerate until using.

To assemble cupcakes, remove a small cone from the center of each cooled cupcake. Put the mousse inside of a piping bag or ziplock bag with a hole cut out of the corner. Pipe mousse into the cut-out centers of each cupcake, filling them generously. Frost with the cream cheese frosting. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving.

Yes, some months are longer than others, and yes, sometimes the stress feels like it'll never end, but if you only remember to enjoy the little things, it's never as bad as you think.

...I think finals are in a week.


  1. So cute.Are they mini cupcakes?Filled?

  2. Stunning cupcakes! i just saw these on Tastespotting, and couldn't take my eyes off. Maple mousse cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and bacon..WOW! I wish I had one in my hand right now. Fantastic job! Beautiful photos!

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