Hey there! Apologies, as the holidays engulfed me. I was happily baking away this whole time, and you had no idea!
Well, a quick recap, if possible, the holiday tins were a hit and easier to manage this year thanks to a little more organizing, pre-planning, and my fabulous Sous-Chef, Blair. There were also a bunch of parties to attend and host, which required goodies, not to mention the holidays themselves. A heavenly array of treats to devour.
But all mixed in with that was the ever-present recipe contest hosted by Scharffenberger and TuttiFoodie. Having been given notice about this contest a good 3 months ago, I can't say it was poorly warned, but with all the other stuff I just mentioned, this contest fell to the bottom of the pile... until last week, that is. To be fair, I had been thinking about it since October, if that counts.
So the deal: Big prize for the winning recipe which will be judged by some cupcake experts as such: "creativity and whether the recipe represents a spirit of adventure (35%), taste of finished recipe (35%), ease of preparation (20%) and appearance (10%)." Creativity does pertain somewhat to their list of "adventure ingredients: "stout beer (oatmeal, chocolate, imperial or any other stout); ricotta; buttermilk; coconut butter, coconut milk or coconut cream; saffron; molasses (light, dark or blackstrap); adzuki bean; fresh beet; sweetened condensed milk; fresh or whole dried chili pepper; bee pollen; meyer lemon; almond flour; and Sumatra coffee bean." In the end (the end being today at midnight), I submitted 5 recipes, some more adventurous than others, of which I will gladly post... if I win, that is. No point in giving you guys failure recipes!
But so you're in the know, and maybe have some feedback on what you think sounds like a winning recipe, the submissions were:
Beet Velvet Cupcakes with Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting - using beet & buttermilk (first photo)
Raspberry Truffle Cupcakes with Sweetened Ricotta Frosting - using Beet & Ricotta (I only took a couple bad photos of this one, so... maybe just use your imagination)
Black & Tan Cupcakes with Stout Ricotta Frosting - using Stout, Molasses & Ricotta (2nd photo)
Chocolate Tiramisu Cupcakes with Marsala Mascarpone Frosting - using Almond flour & Sumatra coffee (photos on main website)
Chocolate & Almond Mochi Cupcakes with Adzuki Ganache - using Almond flour, sweetened condensed milk & adzuki beans (3rd photo)
I actually taste-tested all of these before submitting (well, minus the Chocolate Tiramisu, because it's the same recipe I use all the time...er... well, with one small exception, but I'm sure it's fine...) so I can at least stand by them. I think the Beet Velvet is the most delicious, but like most red velvet cupcakes, they are more of a vehicle for the cream cheese frosting, so am not sure it should count. Otherwise, I enjoyed the flavors and textures of the Black & Tan (I used Harp lager for the "tan" portion of the batter), and the Mochi cupcake probably qualifies as the most adventurous, but it is different - the rice flour lends itself to a more chewy texture and the adzuki beans are somewhat granular, so yeah, the texture: it's a bit different.
Winners won't be notified 'til almost March, so hang in there for news. If you hear nothing, assume the worst ;-)