Citrus-Basil Cupcakes

I am a regular reader of Cupcake Bakeshop and keep meaning to try baking one (or all) of her recipes.  When I saw the Cupcake Round-up I actually wasn't planning on joining in, I was certain I couldn't come up with a worthy idea.  And even if I did, I'm not really comfortable making my own recipes for baked goods.  Then I noticed on Vanilla Garlic  that modifying published recipes is okay as long as we attribute.  So I hope I followed the rules and that I didn't subconsciously copy someone else's already published idea.

I dream of the day I get to eat Basil Ice Cream again and then I remembered a drink I had recently made of citrus juices (definitely lime and something else), ginger, gin and basil.  Aha, my cupcake… if I can manage to make basil frosting.  I have only had the chance to make this once, so I will let you know what I did and then what I want to do differently next time because I do I think I want to try making them again and some people seemed to really like them.  Please note, while I talk about this cupcake from the cupcake up, if I do it again I'd start with the frosting first (and really before that the frosting's flavored syrup).

The cupcake:  My goal was a lime-ginger cupcake, my result was more like a general citrusy cupcake.  After looking over several recipes I decided to start with Chockylit's Grapefruit-pomegranate cupcake, switching lime juice for the grapefruit and doubling the zest like she recommended for her original cupcake.  When I tasted my lime juice it just seemed entirely too tart (that cocktail definitely wasn't just lime juice) so I tried an equal amount of fresh orange juice and that seemed better.

Citrus Cupcakes (modified from Cupcake Bakeshop's Grapefruit cupcakes), makes 24+ cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 1/2 orange)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 1/2 limes)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger juice (about a small thumb sized knob)
1 tablespoon lime zest (about 3 limes)

Preheat your oven to 350F and prep your muffin tins.

Prep the limes by washing them (you will be eating that zest).  Zest the limes first (if you don't have a citrus zester, I must say it rocks), then squeeze the juice out of them into a bowl, fish out any offending seeds.  Squeeze the orange juice into a seperate bowl.  The get ginger juice I peeled and grated the ginger, then squeezed out all the juice into a small (teeny tiny) bowl.  I used about 1 tablespoon of grated ginger to yield about a teaspoon of juice.  Measure these liquids out so they are ready to go.

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

5. Add the milk then the zest to your prepped juices. (A note on the liquids: I first added the juices into a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup, then added the ginger juice.  At that point I think I actually had closer to 5/8 a cup of these liquids and then topped it off with milk.)
6. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
7. Add about one third the milk/juice mixture and beat until combined.
8. Repeat above, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture.
10. Scoop into cupcake papers about half to two-thirds full (depending on whether you want flat or domed cupcakes).
11. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

I baked my cupcakes for 22 minutes and think they came out ever so slightly overdone, but that could be due to the spill-over effect caused by overfilling the tins.  Chockylit noted that the batter will do this (somehow I missed that when reading through the recipe) and I found that my batter could have made a few more than 24 cupcakes if I had the tins for it and not overfilled them in the first place.  I also want to let everyone know that Chockylit's verbal instructions were so concise and easy to understand that I lifted them from her site, cut the non-pertinent sections and italicized them so you know what are her words and what are mine.

Next time:  I will add more ginger (maybe a tablespoon) and fill each cupcake less.

The frosting: While I looked at a lot of frosting recipes I don't think I followed any particular recipe and can call this my own.  I do recommend making the frosting first and letting it sit (in the fridge perhaps) while baking the cupcakes if you want to serve the cupcakes soon after frosting them.  The basil flavor is much more apparent after sitting (barely present when first made, sort of present a few hours later, next day yessirree this is basil frosting).

Basil Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, softened
6 oz butter, softened
1 tablespoon basil syrup*
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup minced fresh basil

Beat the cream cheese and butter together until well incorporated and fluffy.  Add the basil syrup.  Add one cup of powdered sugar, scrapping the bowl between cups.  Finally mix in the fresh basil.  Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

The frosting was a dilema, how to get that basil flavor in there?  Could I make basil sugar?  Probably not.  So then I checked a few basil ice cream recipes (Food Network, EpicuriousAccidental Hedonist, The Noisy KitchenThe BBC).  Generally the basil was steeped in the cream.  I also checked this frosting thread on Ask Metafilter.  Eventually I decided that a cream-cheese base would provide the creaminess and somehow I'd make a basil simple syrup and use than instead of vanilla.  I looked at cream cheese recipes in Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (11th ed.), The New Best Recipe, The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook (Reader's Digest ed, c1980), Martha Stewart Living 2002 Annual Recipes, my KitchenAid stand mixer booklet, and a few on Cupcake Bakeshop.

While I was looking for proportions for simple syrup I found a recipe for mint syrup in Martha Stewart Living 2002 Annual Recipes.  I decided to make a full batch of simply syrup and a half batch of basil syrup.

Simple Syrup II from Martha Stewart Living 2002 Annual Recipes (page 185, it hails from the August 2002 MSL issue)

3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water

Prep an ice bath for the syrup.  Place sugar and water in a heavy bottomed pan on medium-high heat.  Stir often until the sugar has dissovled (should take about 4 minutes).  Pour into a container in the ice bath.  Store in the fridge for up to 2 months.

Basil Syrup adapated from Mint Syrup recipe in Martha Stewart Living 2002 Annual Recipes (page 184)

1 cup packed fresh bail leaves
3/8 cup simply syrup II

Put the basil and syrup in a blender and blend until smooth.  Let it sit for 10 minutes, then strain with a fine mesh strainer into a small clean jar.  You will need to smoosh the puree to get all the liquid out of it.  Skim the foamy stuff off the top of the syrup.  Can be stored in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Next time:  Make the frosting first, then make the cupcakes.

Ta Da

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January 26, 2007. Tags: , , . Thoughts. 12 comments.