Thursday, June 4, 2015

Malibu Mojito Cupcakes

Ah, the mojito. Its refreshing combination of lime and mint beckons me back to South Florida, transporting me to sunny Miami beaches and laid-back Key West bars.

Mojitos are usually made with plain white rum, but (as you can read in this post from 2012) that is not typically available in Casa de Crumm. Coconut rum is my poison of choice for daiquiris, pina coladas, and, yes, our friend the mojito.

So that is what you'll find in this cocktail-inspired cupcake. A subtle kiss of coconut complements the flavors of mint and lime ever so nicely, making this one bar-born confection I simply can't stop craving.

Fresh mint leaves are processed with sugar to permeate the cake batter, and more fresh mint is steeped in heavy cream to enliven a whipped white-chocolate ganache icing. A delightfully tart homemade lime curd fills the center of the cakes for a high-impact flavor combination that sends me straight to the Keys.

As you can see from the photos, I have a tendency to overfill the muffin cups. This recipe will produce enough batter for about 18 standard-sized cupcakes, or 12 that look like these. Personally, I don't mind a little crunch around the edges, but if you're feeling like a cupcake perfectionist, don't overfill the muffin cups!

Also, if you are used to making cakes by the creaming method, this recipe is going to sound totally wack. But trust me. Mixing the oil into the dry ingredients first helps coat the flour with fat to keep gluten formation to a minimum, producing that elusive, tender-crumb texture that's not too dense and not too light.

Malibu Mojito Cupcakes

~for the cake~
11 oz granulated sugar
1/3 cup (loosely packed) fresh mint leaves
8 oz all-purpose flour
2 oz cornstarch
1 T baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt (Morton or another coarse variety)
2 fl.oz vegetable oil
2 oz unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
6 fl.oz whole milk
2 fl.oz Malibu coconut rum
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs

~for the icing~
5 fl.oz, plus 4 T heavy whipping cream, divided
1/3 cup (loosely packed) fresh mint leaves
10 oz chopped white chocolate
1 T Malibu coconut rum

~for the filling~
1 cup homemade lime curd

Make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place muffin liners in each cup of a standard 12-cup muffin pan (and line an extra pan with 6-or-so liners if you don't want to overfill your muffin cups).

If you need to rinse your mint leaves, pat them very dry between two kitchen towels. Excess water will not be your friend.

Process the mint and sugar in a food processor for about two minutes or until completely integrated.

In a large mixing bowl (the one that comes with your electric stand mixer if that's what you'll be using) thoroughly whisk together (by hand) the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in the mint-sugar, and then switch to an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, beat in the oil until the mixture looks quite sandy. Add the softened butter a tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat on low while you prepare the wet ingredients.

In a clean bowl (preferably one with a spout), thoroughly whisk together the milk, rum, vanilla, and eggs. Increase the mixer speed slightly, and slowly stream the wet mixture into the flour mixture, beating just till well-incorporated. Use a rubber spatula to give the mixture one final stir by hand before distributing batter among the prepared muffin liners.

Bake the cupcakes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then completely on a cooling rack before filling and frosting.

Make the Icing:
Place the white chocolate in the bowl of an electric mixer and set aside.

Place 5 fl.oz of cream, along with the mint leaves, in a small saucepan over low heat.

Stir frequently, crushing the leaves to release their oils, for about 20 minutes or until the leaves look very dark and the cream looks pale green.

Strain the cream into the bowl with the white chocolate and discard the mint leaves. Mix on low speed using the paddle attachment until the white chocolate is totally melted and the mixture has cooled considerably. Increase the speed to medium and add 1 tablespoon of the remaining cream at a time, beating well between each addition. Increase speed to med-high and beat until fluffy and voluminous. With the mixer on, very gradually stream in the coconut rum.

Fill and frost the cakes:
Make a little well in the center of each cupcake for the filling. I used a cannoli mold--my daughter got a kick out of blowing the cake "cork" out of the mold and into her waiting hands--but a pairing knife would work just fine.

Place the lime curd in a piping bag fitted with a medium-sized tip, or zip-top bag with about 1/4-inch snipped off one of the bottom corners, and pipe the curd into each cupcake.

Transfer the whipped white-chocolate ganache to a pastry bag and pipe onto the tops of the cupcakes.

Serve immediately or store the cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Allow the cupcakes to warm completely to room temperature (at least 1 hour) before serving.

Thanks for reading. Here's to Being the Secret Ingredient in your life!