Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Heads or Tails: Cupcakes

It nearly took flipping a coin to decide which project I was going to work on today:  the caramels with my homemade sweetened condensed goat milk or baking cupcakes.  It seemed like a good day to have the oven on, so I went with baking cupcakes. 

The idea of lemongrass and hibiscus cupcakes has been rolling around in my head for awhile.  What I finally decided on was strawberry-hibiscus cupcakes with lemongrass buttercream.  The cupcakes themselves are not spectacular.  There's just something missing.  I think maybe a bit of grated lemongrass or lemon zest would have been perfect.  They're also not too sweet, despite increasing the sugar by 1/4 cup.  Perhaps a bit of honey would have been the key.

When I was looking for a recipe as a jumping off point, I found one for banana cupcakes that made just 12 cupcakes.  Although I love experimenting, I despise wasting so making just a few cupcakes as a test seemed like a good way to go.  I would really like to know what size cupcake pan the author of that cookbook used, because I didn't get 12 cupcakes, I got 22.  My mind can't get wrapped around the math on this one.  Instead of one cup of banana puree, I used 1-1/4 cups of strawberry puree, added an additional 1/4 cup of sugar and two tablespoons of ground hibiscus petals.  This is less than 3/4 cup increase in ingredients which should not - in any way, shape or form - result in an extra 10 cupcakes.

The color was disappointing- expected, but disappointing still.  I was hoping for more of a pink hue like the batter versus the mauve brown they turned out to be.  I know vegetation has a tendency to turn brown when heat is applied, but it never hurts to hope.

The lemongrass buttercream saved these cupcakes from being a total disappointment.  I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.  The lemony flavor helps the cupcakes out a little bit and I love the pale green color.  Very Spring.  Grinding the lemongrass leaves into powder was tedious and time consuming (but smelled fantastic!) so this would have been a much bigger disappointment than the cupcakes.  So now I have almost two dozen half failure/half success experimental cupcakes to find something to do with.

And if that weren't enough, I decided to start some stock.  I've had some turkey legs thawing in the refrigerator for about a week that I figured had to be thawed by now.  Not quite, actually.  But for the purpose of stock that's not such a big deal.  It smells SO good!  I know a lot of people think homemade stock isn't worth the time and effort, but it really is.  Plus, it's not that much effort and the time is mostly unattended.  I'm really looking forward to being able to can stock so I can have it on hand without having to plan for it to thaw.

I-Spy:  celery, carrots, chiles, onions, freezer burnt peas, dried out rosemary,
peppercorns, bay leaf, green parts of leeks, and asparagus ends
What I don't spy:  the turkey legs hiding at the bottom

One of my favorite things about making stock is eating the carrots.
The hubs doesn't share my love of orange vegetables so they're not on the menu very often.

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