Monday, May 18, 2009

Pistachio Berries Cupcake

The baking itch has been bugging me since last week. After another attempt at macarons which turned out half successful, where the cookies turned out 'skirtless' or more known as 'no feet', I was a bit disheartened throughout the week! After a first success followed by a second failed attempt, it will be a lie to say that my determination wasn't dampened a bit!

After a whole week of sulking and pondering, I am ready to try again on those little temperamental cookies again very soon. With 2 dozens of eggs in the fridge, all it takes is another gut feeling to whip up those ever so difficult to master egg whites and make the macaron again.

Till that determination is back in full force, I will just have to stick with other things. Like I mentioned before, spring and summer makes me want to bake, be it simple or complicated, plain or decorated, any cakes or cookies recipes seem so enticing. Maybe it is the psychological effect of the good weather and abundance of fresh fruits available, I just want to eat something sweet and nice all the time.

Blackberries and raspberries were on sale this weekend and I couldn't resist the temptation to grab one box of each. Frankly speaking, these berries only taste really good when they are used in baking or eaten with a dessert like custard or ice cream. I seldom eat any sweet ones and rather pick strawberries than raspberries and blackberries which have small spiky thorns on their plants. However said, their colors are beautiful and not using them when they are in season will be a waste.

The appearance of these cupcakes are not fancy but their taste is really good. Besides fruits, I also love to use nuts in baking and one of my favorite is pistachio. Its vibrant green just reminds me that summer is here to stay and the subtle nutty and floral smell it has makes it good to eat on its own and adds texture to baked goods. The only thing is shelling them takes a bit of time and grinding them in a processor takes longer if a fine ground is required.
I looked into a recipe in the Good Food magazine and was curious to amend the required ingredients and reduce the volume of the ingredients so that I don't have to end up with 1 dozen of large cupcakes and trying to understand on how I should minimize or maximize the quantity of baked goods. With only 2 very young kids and myself and a husband who prefers cooked dishes to cakes and sweets, making small batches of everything is always my top priority when looking at recipes. Baking is always a science and like maths, all ingredients must complement each other in quantities or else the cake might rise too much or sink and cookies simply too soft or too hard after baking. So far, my baking and quantities adjustments have resulted pretty good results and these cupcakes are better than my previous attempts in terms of texture and taste. The coarse pistachio grains were visible inside the cake and the berries added moisture and their seeds gave a fun bite to the cupcakes. I drizzled lemon sugar glaze on the outside to retain the moist texture and it is definitely lighter than a buttercream or whipped cream icing. These cupcakes are one of those little things in a bake shop that looks simple and yet pretty and tempting to your tastebuds.

Ingredients :

120g cake flour; 100g softened butter; 120g sugar; 1 tsp baking powder; 2 eggs; 2 tbsp milk; 50g pistachio, processed to fine meal; 50g of mixed fresh raspberry & blackberry.

Lemon glaze: Juice of 1/2 of a lemon; 1 tbsp sugar.

Method :

1)Heat oven to 375F. Grease small/medium muffin tin or use paper cup liners.

2)Sift flour & baking powder.

3)Beat the butter and sugar till creamy. Beat the eggs and milk together with a fork before adding to the butter and sugar mixture. Continue to mix.

4)Fold in the pistachio. Squish the berries with a spoon till slightly mushy. Fold into the batter.

5)Lastly, mix in the flour. Fill the muffin tin/paper cup liners till half (1/2) full. Bake for 25 to 30 mins till the cakes are slightly brown. Remove from oven.

6) For the glaze, stir the sugar in the lemon juice till dissolved. Use a teaspoon to drizzle onto the warm cakes.

Makes: 8 medium size cupcakes

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