Birthday cupcakes – pistachio and raspberry with white chocolate frosting a little celebratory gold
It’s my birthday!! Woop woop! And while you read this post, I should be sat somewhere on the Rue St Honoré in Paris, sipping delicately upon a cup of strong French coffee with a couple of Ladurée macrons on the side. For a leo birthday can only sensibly be celebrated with a little class and plenty of extravagance, so while I soak in the sights of the city of love for one day only, why don’t you join me in my pursuit of birthday hedonism by making these amazing little cup cakes. Complete with edible gold leaf, these pistachio and raspberry beauties are more than appropriate for a summer birthday, where a ruling sun requires celebrations in all things golden, sparkling and extravagant. Or at least that’s my excuse. The sponge is fat free, which makes it a guilt-free, lighter pleasure for a summer’s afternoon, while the white chocolate frosting reminds that while healthy food is all very well, its the icing on the cake that feeds the eye and fuels the pleasure. Ah mais oui!
This recipe is something of a reinvention of a recipe on my good friend Celia’s super-cool foodie blog, Lady Aga. As soon as I saw her cake, I wanted to devour it there and then. The problem was, my cake was destined for work, to be shared amongst my colleagues who have been long-promised a birthday cup-cake treat. And as this distribution would inevitably entail a journey on the stuffy tube in rush hour (with added olympic pressures), the fresh cream of Celia’s oeuvre was never going to work, nor indeed the incredible constitution of her multi-layered sponge. I therefore opted to turn her recipe into cupcakes, replacing half the ground pistachios with self-raising flour to encourage the cakes to rise, and replacing the cream filling with a super-indulgent white chocolate frosting. I also baked a raspberry in the middle of the sponge for added moisture and a hidden treat in the cake’s centre.
So, how to make:
Grind up 110g pistachios to a fine powder. Grind up a further 50g or so to a mixture of fine and textured crumbs for use on the topping. Next take 6 large eggs and separate. Whisk up the egg white into soft peaks. In a separate bowl, whisk up the egg yolks with 180g of caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Into the egg yolk mix, fold in the ground pistachios and 110g of self-raising flour and a spoon-full of the egg white to loosen the mixture. Once mixed, fold in the egg whites. Divide the mixture between 12 large-ish cup-cake cases and place a single raspberry in the centre of each cake. Bake at around 200 degrees centigrade for around 20 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Be careful not to over-bake or the sponge becomes dry. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
In the meantime, take as many raspberries as you have cakes, melt some white chocolate, and fill each raspberry with a drop or so of chocolate until filled. Prop the raspberries upright in a small container and place in the fridge so the chocolate solidifies.
Next, the icing: slowly melt a bar of white chocolate (around 100g I think, but I can’t really tell how much I was melting as I kept on eating it) over simmering water. As the chocolate starts to melt, add a splash or two of full fat milk to loosen up the mixture to a creamy liquidy chocolate. Meanwhile, take 120g unsalted butter and mix with 375g icing sugar with around 25ml of full fat milk and a small dash of vanilla extract. This should be whisked for extra creamyness, probably for a good 5-10 minutes. Once light and fluffy, mix in the melted chocolate until thoroughly combined and my god you will have created pure nectar worthy of Mount Olympus itself. Pour your icing into a piping bag with a large star-shaped nozzle (I have no idea what this is called) and place the icing bag in the fridge for 20 mins or so to firm up the frosting a bit. Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes and top with a sprinkle of crumbled pistachios, a chocolate filled raspberry and a little fragment of edible gold leaf for extra extravagance. Or try edible glitter if you prefer.
(Obviously if you can’t be bothered with the piping bag – which I can easily understand – just smooth the icing onto the cake with a palette knife – this can look just as good.
And there you have it. Cakes fit for a King. Or a birthday boy.
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