Today’s post is proof that something good can come of something bad. Don’t worry, I don’t mean to get too philosophical here, it’s just that, when it comes to cooking, I have always found that the biggest failures many times lead to interesting discoveries.
These cupcakes were not intended to be cupcakes at all. They were intended to be a frosting: Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting, with which I intended to cover a cake with lots and lots and lots of ruffles. I wanted to make a cake like this one, from fantastic baker Sweetapolita, which I have been drooling over for some time already. And in order to achieve a cake like that, I first needed to be able to make the required frosting.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream is composed of egg whites, caster sugar (beaten into a swiss meringue) and butter. The addition of egg whites and the additional beating makes it much softer, subtle and luscious than regular buttercream, which is composed of just butter (or margarine/shortening for vegan varieties) and powdered sugar and is, therefore, quite heavy. Don’t get me wrong, regular buttercream tastes well, but I don’t think I could eat a ruffle cake with regular buttercream frosting-there would just be too much buttercream in it.
So I prepared everything to make Swiss Meringue buttercream, read carefully Sweetapolita’s instructions (which are GREAT) and saw this wonderful video. I had everything, except one thing: a stand-mixer. I had read that it was not possible to make this frosting with a hand mixer, but I was willing to try to make it with the appropriate attachments of my Moulinex Master Chef food processor.
I followed the instructions in the video to the letter: I separated egg whites from egg yolks with looots of care, put the former in a bowl beating them slightly, brought the bowl on top of a simmering pot being careful that it didn’t touch the water, and added the sugar, beating for about 5 minutes until the sugar granules were completely dissolved.
I then put the mixture in my food processor, equipped with the whisk attachment, and started beating at fast speed until I got stiff peaks. It took me about 15 minutes to get to this point and for the bowl to be at room temperature again. At that time, I changed to the mixing attachment and started adding butter (which I had previously cut ) one little square at a time. At first everything seemed ok. The texture of the meringue turned grainy and then it changed to soupy…but despite beating and beating and beating it never evolved as it was supposed to, it never achieved proper consistency. It never stopped being…well, like soup.
At first, I blamed the warm weather and put the bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes.
It didn’t work.
Then I thought that maybe my butter had been too soft when I put it in the meringue. So I followed the advice I had read and added just a little bit more (colder) butter.
Nothing happened.My very buttery-used-to-be-meringue remained too loose to frost anything.
When I realized that I had been beating for over 30 minutes after adding the first butter square, I decided it was time to stop and accept the fact that there was no way that batter was going to become anything remotely like swiss meringue buttercream. Or at least no way I knew of.
The question was: what to do with it? As a matter of principle I don’t throw food, so it was time to take a good look at the batter and uncover its potential. I tasted it and it was delicious ( I could feel how great it would have tasted as frosting!). So I decided to transform it into cupcakes. Worst case scenario, if the cupcakes ended up looking awful, I could always crumble them and make cake-pops!
So I added two cups of self-raising flour (the only one I had at home at the moment), 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and, at the last minute, I also added 2 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch, which I thought would help make the cupcakes lighter – and it did. The mixture was enough to fill 12 cases. I used muffin cases because I wasn’t sure how the batter was going to react in the oven and I didn’t want it to overflow. I preheated the oven for about 5 minutes only, at 150 C, and cooked them until golden, for about 15 minutes.
This is how they looked straight out of the oven:
Goodbye Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Hello cupcake!
I let them cool completely and decided that, instead of frosting, I was just going to serve them with some powdered sugar sprinkled on top (1/2 a teaspoon for each cupcake).
And then it was time for the final frontier: the taste test. Because, as good as they looked, the important thing was whether they were actually good to eat.
And they were! They tasted very well, actually!
They were very moist, soft and buttery – but not too buttery.
Here is how they looked on the inside:
Do you want a bite?
Here’s the recipe:
– 1/2 cup egg whites (I used 3 XL)
– 1 cup granulated sugar
– 12 oz (3 sticks/350 gr) butter
– a pinch of salt
Added by me:
– 2 cups self-rasing flour
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 2 heaping tablespoons cornstarch
– 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
– 6 teaspoons powdered sugar (to serve)
1- Separate egg whites from egg yolks. Cut the butter into little squares and set aside on a plate, outside of the fridge.
2- Put egg whites in a heat-resistant bowl, add salt, beat slightly and place over simmering water. Add sugar and continue beating until the sugar completely dissolves (when you can no longer feel the granules at the touch).
2- Once the sugar is completely dissolved, start beating with the whisk attachment of a mixer-or by hand if you are very strong! Continue beating until reaching stiff peaks and the bowl’s temperature has completely cooled down and is back at room temperature (otherwise the butter will melt when added).
3- Start adding butter, one little square at a time, until the batter is smooth but still liquid. If you are the proud owner of a stand-mixer, stop after this point or you may actually end up making swiss meringue buttercream! 😉
4- Add vanilla and mix until combined.
5- Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add them to the egg and butter mixture, little by little, and mix until well combined.
6- Divide the batter between the muffin cases, putting just enough to fill about 3/4 of each of them.
7- Pre-heat the oven to 150C (302F). Place the muffin pan into the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden.
8- Let cool, sprinkle powdered sugar (or other frosting) on top, and serve.
Moral of the story: If life gives you failed swiss meringue buttercream, add flour and make cupcakes!
Have you ever come up with a good recipe when trying to make something different?
El rinconcito Latino:
Aquí está la receta en castellano:
De la receta de Dyann Bakes para Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
– 1/2 taza de claras de huevo ( yo usé 3 de huevos XL)
– 1 taza de azucar
– 350 gramos de manteca
– 1 pizca de sal
Agregados por mí:
– 2 tazas de harina leudante
– 1 cucharada de té de polvo de hornear
– 2 cucharadas soperas de maizena
– 1 cucharada sopera de escencia de vainilla
– 6 cucharadas de té de azucar impalpable (para decorar)
Inicialmente, procedan como si fueran a hacer swiss meringue buttercream, o sea:
1- Separen claras de yemas y coloquen las claras en un recipiente que resista el calor. Saquen la manteca de la heladera y cortenla en cuadraditos. Dejen los cuadraditos en un plato afuera de la heladera.
2- Coloquen agua en una olla (poca) y lleven a fuego muy lento hasta que hierva. Agreguen la sal a las claras, batan ligeramente, y coloquen el recipiente sobre la olla , batiendo siempre. Agreguen el azucar y sigan batiendo (para evitar que las claras se cocinen) hasta que el azucar se disuelva totalmente (cuando al colocar un poco de la mezcla entre el índice y el pulgar no se sientan más los gránulos de azucar)
3- Lleven la mezcla a una batidora/procesadora, o continuen batiendo a mano hasta que se formen picos firmes y el bowl no esté más caliente al tacto. La mezcla debe volver a estar a temperatura ambiente porque, de lo contrario, la manteca se derretirá al incorporarla.
4- Incorporen la manteca de a un cuadradito por vez, batiendo bien luego de cada adición hasta que la mezcla esté uniforme y lisa pero aún líquida. O sea, si tienen batidora tipo Kitchen Aid, dejen de batir al llegar a este momento o puede que logren hacer swiss meringue buttercream! 😉
5- Agreguen la vainilla y mezclen hasta que esté incorporada.
6- Mezclen los ingredientes secos en un bowl aparte. Incorporenlos de a poco al batido de huevos y manteca, mezclando hasta que estén bien incorporados.
7- Dividan la mezcla en pirotines para muffins, llenandolos sólo 3/4 de la capacidad total.
8- Pre calienten el horno a 150C por 5 minutos. Lleven las cupcakes a horno por aproximadamente 15 minutos, o hasta que estén doradas.
9- Dejen enfriar, espolvoreen con azucar impalpable (u otra cobertura) y sirvan!