Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sunrise nectarine cupcakes

The August 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living offers a recipe for nectarine cupcakes.  I added the "Sunrise" part this morning when I photographed them at dawn. :)

Isn't it a joy when a recipe turns out much better than you'd hoped?  That's what happened with these guys.  I got my heart set on making them and went to the grocery store for nectarines, but they were nearly all hard as apples.  So I picked one hard one and some of the softest I could find, but I found when I got home that the soft ones were beginning to rot.  I ended up using the one hard, unripe, tart nectarine-- fortunately it was a big one.  Here it is, cut up and ready.

I put some batter in each cup and piled nectarines on top.

Then I didn't have enough batter left to cover the nectarines.

So apprehensively I stuck the tray in the oven to bake, and here's what it looked like twenty-six minutes later:

Lovely!  They came out very well!

Cheered, I turned to the frosting, which was nothing other than the awesome frosting I'd made once before (recipe here).  I'd already cooked the flour and milk mixture-- it thickens very quickly-- and stuck it in the fridge to cool to room temp.  What resulted was this unappetizing conglomeration:

But just whip it up with butter, sugar, vanilla, and touch of orange gel coloring, and all is right with the world.

Time to frost these suckers.

And now to taste one for quality control...

Yuuuum!  The nectarines inside were perfect!  It didn't matter that they weren't ripe, because they already had nectarine-y flavor and all they really lacked was sweetness, which the cupcake batter provided.  This cupcake was so delicious warm, but as you can see it wilted the frosting.  The frosting still has texture issues and really needs to be kept in the fridge.  If I could somehow dissolve the sugar... this is why most frosting recipes use powdered sugar rather than granulated.  Anyway, no matter-- it's tasty frosting and not as heavy as a traditional buttercream.

I cut a cupcake open the next day for the dramatic dawn portrait:

Perfect for summertime. :)  Here's the recipe:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup whole milk (I used 2% and it was fine)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature.  (I only had salted butter, so I used that and cut out the 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Salted butter contains 1/4 to 3/4 teaspoons of salt in every stick of butter.)
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 medium nectarines, chopped in little pieces (1 1/4 cups)   The recipe says to peel them, but I didn't bother.
Optional: I had lemons on hand, so I zested one (that is, I used a really fine grater to grate off all the outer layer of skin) and added that to the batter.  Another time I might put lemon juice in the frosting too.

Preheat oven to 350°.  Mix flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir together milk and vanilla.  Beat butter and sugar on medium speed till pale and fluffy, about three minutes.  Add eggs one at a time and mix after each.  (The recipe says to add them with the mixer running, which would guarantee you'd drop shells in the batter-- forget it!)  Beat in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture.

Line a standard muffin tin with baking cups.  The recipe says to fill twelve baking cups with one tablespoon batter each, then add 1 heaping tablespoon of nectarines and an additional 2 tablespoons batter.  What I found was that I had enough batter for 1 tablespoon on bottom, then nectarines, then one more tablespoon on top-- and only if I made eleven cupcakes instead of twelve.  Evidently I was very generous with my tablespoons.

Bake until edges start to turn golden, about 25 minutes.  Let cupcakes cool.

Now, you can frost with the awesome frosting I used, adding just a little bit of orange color (if you have red and yellow liquid colors, I think five drops of yellow with one of red would do it), or you can use the magazine's suggestion, which is:  Whisk together 1 cup cold heavy cream, 1/2 cup sour cream, and three tablespoons sugar until the mixture forms medium peaks.  Top cupcakes with a dollop of cream and a few very thin nectarine slices.  If you're going to store the cupcakes overnight, don't top them with topping until you're ready to serve them.


Vincenzo said...

oh wow :O~

Rachel Ann said...

As weird as this sounds, I never thought of putting fruit at the bottom of cupcakes. I bet you could do that with just about any fruit!

Rachel Gray said...

Thanks Vincenzo. :) Rachel, I think strawberry, mango, raspberry and blueberry would be especially good. A co-worker who tried the cupcakes actually asked me, "How did you get the fruit in there?"