We were invited to a friend’s daughter’s first birthday party. I immediately thought little girls and pink! When I think of pink and a flavor my first reaction is strawberry and luckily I had some frozen strawberries in the freezer. Since I am in love with my new-found cream cheese ganache type of frosting I thought this would be perfect with strawberries.
Next the type of cake. Strawberry shortcake? Nah, I haven’t had any luck recently with a good white/yellow cake and I wasn’t about to experiment with any new recipes especially for a little girl’s birthday party. So I decided on my trusty chocolate cake recipe-done!
But . . . I still wasn’t satisfied considering it would be plain, Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Ganache Frosting. Blah! Sometimes I have a tendency to go overboard with flavor combos, just ask my personal photographer/hubby. He has sampled way too many fusion type of baked flops. As a result, he only prefers the simple flavors when it comes to baked goodies. But I just had to add something, just something to contrast the flavors. Green tea?! Yes green tea!!! I would make a second frosting made with green tea. I needed to keep it light, so I decided to make a Green Tea Swiss Meringue Buttercream. And perhaps swirl the green tea buttercream with the strawberry cream cheese ganache frosting. Brilliant! Well . . .
I was also itching to make macarons! Yes, I don’t think I can stay away and go “cold turkey” on macarons. With all that internal battle of determining ingredients and flavors for the cupcakes, I decided I would keep it coordinated and make matching macarons! Wow another brilliant idea! Maybe . . .
So the chocolate cupcakes came out as expected (love my trusty choco cupcake recipe). For some reason I always overfill the liners whenever I use the Wilton ruffled cupcake liners, and so this recipe will either make 18 very large cupcakes or 22-24 regular sized cupcakes.
Ai Love Chocolate Cupcakes
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c sugar
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 c warm water
3/4 c buttermilk
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp Kahlua or coffee liquor
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Blend well.
Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, vegetable oil and coffee/vanilla extract to dry ingredients and mix on medium-high until smooth, about 2-3 minutes (scrape down side of bowl as needed).
Divide batter evenly into 18 (Wilton ruffled liners) or 20-24 (regular liners) lined muffin tins. Filling 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until tops spring back when pressed lightly.
For the Strawberry Cream Cheese Ganache Frosting, refer to my post titled, “A Tale of Three Macarons” and follow the Blueberry Cream Cheese Filling recipe, but use frozen strawberries. You will have to double or triple the recipe depending on how many cupcakes you are making.
Now for the Green Tea Swiss Meringue Buttercream. This is another favorite frosting of mines for cupcakes. It’s lighter in texture and not as sweet as a regular buttercream. It is almost like a whipped cream frosting, but more stable. However, it’s a little more involved then a regular buttercream. You have to heat and mix constantly the egg whites and sugar in a large bowl over a pot of simmering water until the mixture reaches a temperature of 160 degrees. If you’ve read my past posts you know my aversion to uncooked egg whites. So the first time I attempted to make this it turned to scrambled eggs! My next attempt, I had to trust that 160 degrees did indeed mean that it was safe for consumption. And so when my thermometer reached 160 degrees (well I did a little over 160 just to be extra safe), I immediately took it off the simmering water.
Also the second time around, I found it easier to put the eggs whites and sugar directly into my Kitchen Aid stainless steel bowl and put this over the pot of simmering water. This way I could easily take the bowl from the simmering water directly to my Kitchen Aid and whip away! Here’s the recipe below:
Green Tea Swiss Meringue Buttercream
5 egg whites
3/4 c sugar
pinch of salt
4 sticks of unsalted butter (l lb), cubed room temp
1-2 tbsp green tea powder (depending on your preference)
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
Combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl (or directly in your Kitchen Aid mixer stainless steel bowl) set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees and the sugar has dissolved (should be smooth when pinched between fingers).
Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes (bowl should be warm-cool to the touch).
Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated. If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (don’t worry, it will come together!)
Mix in the green tea powder and vanilla extract just until incorporated.
I thought that two tablespoons of the green tea powder was too strong. However, like my green tea cake in my last post, the flavor mellowed overnight. Although the next time I think I’ll add one tablespoon of green tea powder, instead of two.
Because I wasn’t happy with the strong green tea flavor of the Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I decided not to swirl the two frostings. So I piped the Strawberry Cream Cheese Ganache Frosting first, and then piped a small dollop of the Green Tea Swiss Meringue Buttercream on top. It made for a pretty contrast of colors.
Then I made some matching macarons, green tea shells (pretty green colored) and regular shells tinted pink. I used some Strawberry Chocolate Ganache for the filling. All of these macaron recipes and filings can be found on my previous posts.
I was quite happy with both the cupcakes and the macarons and I think both were enjoyed at the party. But my biggest find and not to mention lovely presentation, were the gift boxes I found that fit the cupcakes and macarons! I bought these beautiful Christmas boxes from Raley’s for less than $3 a box! They were excellent for the presentation, but even better for transporting since we drove to Sacramento for the party. I can’t believe I found these beautiful gold gems! Happiness in a gold box.