Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting

This week I’ve had a one day weekend, (yesterday) and most of the day was spent casually baking peach cupcakes with brown sugar frosting, as found on Smitten Kitchen. Over the course of seven hours I baked, frosted, set-up, arranged, photographed, edited, and weeded 135 photos. Perhaps it should take more time or less time to really get through the whole process, but it’s rare that I get to cook and “work” so casually.

Two more days of work, and I’m setting out on an 8 day adventure! On Saturday morning I’m heading down to Philadelphia for a couple of days to see friends that I’ve really missed since moving, and then on to Montreal!!! I’ve never been to Canada before and am really looking forward to it. While my French-Canadian is really poor, I’m hoping I’ll be able to mumble my way through things with what remains of my high school French memory.

Of course, one of the things I’m looking forward to on my trip is getting the opportunity to taste new things and hopefully get some cool travel food photographs. I’ve travelled a lot in the past, but have somehow managed to avoid snapping any photos of some of the world’s most incredible meals. While I can still taste the fine French cheeses and delicious Argentinean steak, it would have been far easier to mesmerize people with photos.

Anyway, on to the good stuff – the recipe:

Peach Cupcakes – Makes about 30

3 or 4 Peaches (4 if medium, 3 if large) – Peeled, cored & chopped into smallish cubes, about 1/3″.
3 c. Cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
3/4 c. (6 oz) Unsalted Butter at room temperature
3/4 c. Sugar
3/4 c. Light Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 c. Sour Cream

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. In a mixer, beat together the butter and both sugar until it become fluffy and lightens in color (a minute or two). With a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla to the eggs, and add the eggs to the mix one at a time, beating to incorporate. Scrape the bowl again. Add the flour in two parts, alternating with the sour cream and taking care not to over mix. When the batter is fully incorporated, remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the chopped peaches. Divide into muffin cups lined with cupcake papers and bake for about 18 minutes at 350 degrees.

Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 c. (4 oz) Unsalted Butter at room temperature
1 pound (two 8 oz packages) Cream Cheese at room temperature
1 1/4 c. Light Brown Sugar
1 c. Powdered Sugar
1/4 c. Cornstarch*
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

In a mixer, beat the butter until it is completely smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat it into the butter until completely combined and smooth. In a small bowl combine the sugars and the cornstarch and whisk together until they are completely combined. Add the sugars to the cream cheese and beat on medium until the frosting has lightened in color and is very fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape the mixing bowl down occasionally while mixing.

*Note: The original recipe includes the 1/4 c. of cornstarch, added for the purpose of stiffening the frosting. I also added a little more powdered sugar to my recipe to give the frosting a little more body and sweetness. Next time though, I’m considering cutting the cornstarch down or out altogether (it just seems a little weird to me) and upping the powdered sugar to make it even sweeter. I like it sweet, what can I say?

Vegan Lemon Cupcakettes

I cook. By profession I’m a pastry cook. At home I’m the let’s-try-this-funky-recipe-for-dinner cook. One day I’d like to be a cook-beautiful-things-and-take-beautiful-pictures-of-them cook. I’m lucky that nearly every day I get to practice doing just that. Being a pastry cook, friends, co-workers and family often ask for cakes and desserts. Their tastes are as diverse and wide-ranging as they are which provides tons of opportunities for creativity with flavors and ingredients. In the past several months I’ve also had the opportunity to cook for friends with speciality diets including a gluten-free wedding, diabetic treats, and vegan cakes!

I had a tiny amount of batter and frosting left over from a recent vegan lemon cake, and even though I’m not vegan I was pretty excited about trying these little cupcakes. The original yellow cake and vanilla “buttercream” recipes come from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Baking cookbook by Donna Diegel, and were adapted as follows:

Lemony Cake – makes 2, 8″ round cakes and 12 mini cupcakes

3 cups cake flour
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup non-hydrogenated  vegan margarine (butter flavored, room temperature)
1-1/2 cups sugar
Egg substitute for 3 eggs (I used Ener-G powdered egg replacer)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups Almond Milk
Zest of 3 lemons

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a mini cupcake pan with paper liners, grease & flour cake pans with margarine and tap the excess flour out. Combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt in a bowl and whisk together to incorporate and break up any clumps. In a mixer, beat margarine and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about a minute. With a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add egg substitute in 2 portions, beating well in between. Scrape down the bowl once more and add the vanilla. Beat to incorporate. On low, add 1/3 of the dry mix, mixing till incorporated, then 1/3 of the almond milk. Alternate the dry mix and milk until well blended, taking care not to overmix the batter. remove mixing bowl from the mixer and fold in the lemon zest. Scoop about a tablespoon of batter into each cupcake, and divide the rest of the batter evenly between the two cake pans. Bake! when the tops of the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched they are finished. Check the cake rounds for doneness after about 25-30 minutes.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting – Double this recipe to fill and frost both the cake and cupcakes.

1/2 cup of solid shortening
1/2 cup of  non-hydrogenated  vegan margarine (butter flavored, room temperature)
4 cups of confectioner’s sugar
3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Vanilla beans scraped from the inside of 1 vanilla bean
1-2 Tbsp. almond milk

In a mixer beat shortening and margarine until soft and combined. Add confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time, scraping down the bowl between each cup. Beat frosting until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and vanilla beans. Beat in almond milk until frosting has a spreadable consistency.  Frost your cakes!

Each of these tasty little cupcakes were topped with a fresh berry and have been eaten a handful at a time. If you aren’t vegan or haven’t tried any vegan baked goods, these little treats might take you by surprise. They don’t take any extra effort to make and could easily fool your dairy eating friends.

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