Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bleeding Heart Cupcakes.

Does your heart feel like this?

If so, make these cupcakes. You will need:

12 ounces of butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups of beets (this is about three beets)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cups toasted chopped hazelnuts, pecans, or walnuts (if you use hazelnuts, toast them a few minutes longer than the walnuts or pecans. They have more water and need more time in the oven.)

12 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces butter
8 ounces confectioner's sugar
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Orange zest from about a quarter of an orange

An hour or so before you're going to bake, put the butter for the cupcakes and frosting, the cream cheese, and the eggs on the counter so they'll be soft when you're ready to make them. You can toast the nuts at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes on a baking sheet on the highest rack in the oven. Give them a shake halfway through so they toast evenly, and you'll know when they're done because the kitchen will smell really good. Leave the oven on, since the cupcakes will need to be baked at 350 degrees too.

Wash the beets and cut the tops and the little tails off. Peel them like you would an apple and throw away the peels. Then, use either a food processor with the shredding blade or a grater (if you use a grater, don't be like me and feed bits of your thumbs to your friends. SORRY, GUYS.) and shred the beets. They'll shred just like carrots, but will get red juice everywhere, so wear an apron. Stick the beets in a bowl and let them hang out.

Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, cream the butter, sugar, ginger, and cinnamon together until it's fluffy. It will look like gingerbread cookie dough:

If you're using a stand mixer, leave the mixer on low and add the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the bowl between eggs. If you're using a hand mixer, just mix and scrape after each egg is added. Then add the vanilla extract and give the batter one more whirl. It will smell really, really good:

Next, take a small bowl and mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Take the bowl of beets and squeeze most of the beet juice out of the beets. You can do this by either just grabbing handfuls of beets and squeezing them over the sink (a lot of dark red juice will come out and turn your hands pink. I think this is the easiest way.). Or you could put them in a colander and press down really hard on them until most of the juice comes out. Put them back in the bowl and dump in the orange juice.

Put the beets into the dough and mix until combined. The dough will turn pink.

This looks sort of like a brain.

Put the chopped nuts in the bowl and mix them in. If you want to save some for garnishing the tops of the cupcakes, you could do that. I used sprinkles instead.

Drop in the dry ingredients and fold into the dough until no floury streaks remain.

Put the dough into cupcake tins lined with cupcake papers, or spray with nonstick spray. Don't overfill the cups (fill them about 2/3 full). You should get 24 cupcakes. Bake them for 20 minutes or until a toothpick poked into the center cupcake comes out clean.

Let them cool in the pans for a few minutes, then take them out and put them on a wire rack or on the counter to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the frosting.

Put the cream cheese into a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or use a handheld mixer and mix on medium speed until smooth. Dump the cream cheese into a bowl (don't worry about cleaning off the mixer or getting all of the cream cheese out). Put the butter into the mixer, paddle it on medium speed until smooth, then dump the cream cheese back in and continue paddling on medium-low speed. This way you'll get dense, smooth icing. Stop the mixer for a minute, put the confectioner's sugar through a sifter above the cream cheese and butter, and paddle it until it's smooth. While you're paddling it, you can pour in the vanilla, salt, and add the orange zest. You may need to stop the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides.

When the cupcakes are cool, ice them with the frosting and add whatever garnish you want-sprinkles, candied nuts, a curl of orange peel. Mine looked like this (as you can see, the pink batter turns light brown as it cooks):

FInal verdict: this cupcake is really more like a muffin than a cupcake. It's got a nice variation of textures, between the chopped nuts and shredded beets, that's a lot like carrot cake. You could play around with this recipe (for example, leave out the nuts but put in chopped dried apricots or cranberries, or add some chopped crystallized ginger instead of the ground ginger). The cream cheese icing has a nice zing to it from the orange zest. If you prefer your icing fluffy, not dense, you could substitute a different type of icing. Vanilla icing would be good, too, and since the icing is white, you could throw in some food coloring as well. It's a good winter dessert and would be good for breakfast or brunch. It's very moist (all the eggs) and the cupcakes are pretty dense.

The original recipe came from Kathryn Guy-Hamilton at the Breslin, but I changed some of the proportions and rewrote the recipe (the original recipe was pretty badly written).

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