Sunday, August 25, 2013

Peaches and Cream Cupcakes

As my stay in Georgia comes to a close, I wanted to end with yet another local and seasonal recipe. Georgia peaches are sweet, juicy, and delicious. Though the cupcake "fad" may be slowly fading, there's no reason to move on so quickly! Instead, we should come up with exciting, innovative ways to approach the classic dessert. One way you can do this is by adding a filling, as well as using flavors that deviate from the traditional chocolate and vanilla.

The recipe for the cake portion of the cupcake is adapted from a recipe by Giada de Laurentiis. Although I am often opposed to using cake mixes, if you are in a pinch for time, it is possible to make the cake mix less sweet and dense. Adding a creamy dessert cheese, like mascarpone, can create a lighter, fluffier texture and can balance some of the sweetness with the tartness.

Peaches and Cream Cupcakes (Makes 24 Cupcakes)
Mascarpone Cupcakes
8 oz Mascarpone Cheese, Softened
2 Egg Whites
1 box White Cake Mix
1 cup Water
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil

1. Use a mixer to soften cheese. Gradually add the egg whites until well blended. 
2. Add cake mix, water, and oil.
3. Mix until well incorporated.
4. Scoop into a muffin tin lined with muffin liners. Fill about 3/4 of the way up.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden brown, the cake springs back when poked, and a toothpick or paring knife comes out clean when you poke the cake. (about 17-23 min)
6. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Peach Custard Filling
1 Peach
5 Egg Yolks
3 cups Heavy Cream
3 cups Whole Milk
1/2 cup Sugar
3 tbsp Corn Starch
1/2 cup Heavy Cream

1. Rinse, peel, and cut the peach to a medium dice.
2. Combine milk, cream, half the sugar, and peaches in a pot and heat until it boils. Turn down the heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
3. In the meantime, mix together corn starch, yolks, and the remaining sugar.
4. Do not pour sugar into the yolks until you are ready to mix them in. If it is not stirred, the yolk may curdle and you will have bits of yolk in your final product.
5. Pour hot milk slowly into the yolks, whisking constantly.
6. Pour the yolk mixture back into the pot.
7. Stir constantly over low heat until it becomes a thick custard. Allow it to bubble some before turning off the heat. Be careful to not overheat so that there are no chunks of egg in your custard.
8. Pour out the custard into a large bowl. Cover with plastic so that it is touching the surface of the custard. Then, press the custard up the sides of the bowl. Do not let it overflow
9. Allow the custard to cool completely.
10. Whip 1/2 cup of cream to medium-stiff peaks.
11. Once custard is cool, fold in cream.
12. Place custard into a piping bag fitted with a round tip.
13. Put the tip of the piping bag into the center of the cupcake and apply pressure until the cupcake bulges slightly.

Honey Buttercream
5 Egg Whites
3/4 cup Sugar
2 stick Butter
1 tbsp Honey
3 Peaches

1. Heat egg whites and sugar over a pot of boiling water until the sugar is completely dissolved. Whisk occasionally. Check if the sugar is dissolved by rubbing the egg whites between your fingers to feel for crystals.
2. Use an electric mixer on high speed to whip the whites until stiff peaks form and the meringue has cooled.
3. Add softened butter gradually to the meringue and whip.
4. Add the honey to the mixture.
5. Continue to whip. The mixture will separate, look like cottage cheese, then come together in a dense dough-like mass, and then become a very soft buttercream.
6. Put the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a tip of your choice.
7. Pipe in a circular motion from the outside of the cupcake to the center. Apply even pressure to avoid any blemishes.
8. Garnish cupcakes with sliced peach wedges.

Enjoy this cupcake with a cold glass of milk as the hot summer comes to a close!

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