Sugar High Friday – Mysterious Cupcakes


Cupcake200px When I heard that Fanny was hosting Sugar High Friday and devoting it to cupcakes, I knew  immediately that I’d participate. I first met Fanny when she commented on these Caramelized Pear Cupcakes with Blue Cheese Frosting that I published only a few weeks after I started this blog and we’ve been pals ever since.

Fanny’s enthusiasm and joy for pastry (and art) always inspires me, so I knew she’d make something special for her own SHF. Not surprisingly, these S’more-inspired beauties look amazing. Even more incredible when you realize she’s from France and learned about s’mores from a book (!) which suggested you would make them in the oven (!!). I really want one of her cupcakes.

My own entry came out better conceptually than edibly. I was thinking about red velvet cake, a Southern classic which is enjoying a sentimental renaissance among people who surely have never set foot south of the Mason-Dixon line. It is typically made with vast quantities of red food coloring, but it occurred to me that you could get the same color with beets. Turns out I’m about 60 years too late; according to Wikipedia they did it that way after World War II.

Anyhow, with the beet idea in mind, I figured I’d go to a completely savory cupcake. I made a typical olive-oil based cake batter, choosing the extra-virgin option and using minimal sugar and lots of lemon juice, and added pureed red beets. The frosting is made from Laura Chenel goat cheese, in exactly the same way you would make a cream cheese frosting, and they are topped with tiny jewels of red and yellow beet.

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They didn’t quite come off as planned. The cake was rather dense, and needed more beet flavor to balance the chevre. Part of that was I just rushed and didn’t beat the egg whites enough, which are the only leavening. Rather than cooked beet puree, maybe it would work better to shred the raw vegetable like you would for a zucchini bread. It would have to be very fine to cook adequately. A bit of rosemary in the batter would add a nice complexity too.

I think these could be reworked into a pretty awesome little bite, made in mini-cupcake tins. It would be fun to serve them as a first course to mystified diners, wondering why you are giving them dessert first.

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Sunday, September 14th, 2008 in Experiments.

7 Responses to “Sugar High Friday – Mysterious Cupcakes”

  1. Reply
    September 14, 2008 at 8:01 am #

    wow great twist as usual Michael. you’re always so inspiring.

    thank you xxx

  2. Reply
    September 14, 2008 at 6:00 pm #

    Really interesting and I think it would be a lot of fun to serve as a first course. I love the photo and the plate used..perfect.

  3. Reply
    September 14, 2008 at 10:10 pm #

    These look SO pretty!! And I think they sound great! I’ve taken a regular old zucchini bread recipe and made really nice, dense (but slightly sweet) “beet bread” that would probably translate well into little red cupcakes. So, what then, is the difference between cupcakes and muffins? 🙂 Just pondering…

  4. Reply
    September 15, 2008 at 6:09 am #

    I wrote a brief essay not long ago bashing cupcakes. Seeing the way you’re thinking about them, I might have to rethink my original assessment.

  5. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    September 15, 2008 at 10:21 am #

    Tofu Mom – I think the difference is… frosting!

    Greg – I just read your cupcake screed. I’ll be happy to make you a full beet sheet cake :)!

  6. Reply
    October 1, 2008 at 9:02 pm #

    They look so pretty. I’ve been looking for a savoury cupcake recipe and you’ve definitely given me food for thought here. Thanks! 🙂

  7. Reply
    November 3, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    intresting twist and will definitely make it. They look so tempting.

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