Saturday, December 01, 2007

I don't know what it is. Maybe the wrestling with the electric hand mixer. Or the way the batter looks when it's reached ideal consistency. Or the sight of those little cakes in the oven -- like soft, happy pillows peeking out over the edge of the pan.

Whatever it is, I can't stop baking cupcakes. I fantasize about it during the week. What flavor am I going to make this weekend? I wonder if there's a recipe for [insert random ingredient here] cupcakes. I am thinking about putting the cupcake courier on my Christmas wish list, second only to the pink Kitchen Aid stand mixer. (This mixer makes me drool. I like to go to cooking supply stores and touch it. I have done this several times.)

Today, the marriage of two things I am completely obsessed with at the moment: Cupcakes and egg nog.

Hence Egg Nog Cupcakes with Bourbon Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting.

This recipe presented several things I have never done before in the kitchen: Cooking with bourbon (and rum -- the recipe actually calls for both), making caramel and adding filling to cupcakes.

Everything turned out pretty damn well, though. The cupcakes have this gorgeous, extremely fluffy texture -- almost like a sponge cake, which makes it really easy to eat too many of them. They're so light that you don't even notice you're stuffing your face. (I'm wondering if the texture is the result of the egg nog since egg nog already has a lot of egg in it initially.) And the bourbon and rum in the actual cupcakes isn't overwhelming. (I was worried about this, since just smelling the rum brought back bad memories and kind of made me want to barf.)

However, the caramel sauce turned out to be a different story. The bourbon was almost overpowering. This was toned down quite a bit when I combined the caramel with the cream cheese and butter to make the frosting, but I wouldn't recommend eating the caramel on its own. (Too bad, since the recipe suggested drizzling any leftover caramel over the frosted cupcakes. That probably would've made them look very pretty, but there was no way I was going to do that; the bourbon was way too strong.) I think if I make these again, I might take the bourbon down to 1.5 tablespoons or even just 1 tablespoon.

Stuffing the cupcakes was fine, too, although I did mangle the first cupcake pretty badly. (Thank goodness for frosting to cover it up!) Making the custard was really similar to the way you make custard for ice cream. The only tricky thing was that this custard cooked really, really quickly (again, I suspect this is because of the egg nog). I had to move fast and use a strainer to get any lumps out.

One final note: I dusted my cupcakes with nutmeg after I frosted them. I think it added a little sumthin'-sumthin', plus everyone knows egg nog and nutmeg are a match made in heaven.

Here's to the first day of December -- and Christmas just around the corner!

1 comment:

Markate said...

I am totally making these.

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