Saturday, August 27, 2011

Watermelon Cupcakes

Summer is sort of coming to a close, so I'm a little tardy in posting this recipe. But if you really like watermelon, you might want to bookmark it for when watermelon is back at its peek in season. I personally am not head over heels for watermelon myself, but the idea of a watermelon cupcake seemed like a fun challenge. I used fresh fruit that I pureed and made into a pastry cream filling, and topped the cupcake with a light meringue frostings, one that wouldn't over power the flavor of the filling.

Watermelon Cream
Patience was the death of me on this recipe. You have to let the gelatin mixture set up for a couple hours, but can't leave it all night because you need to whip in the cream at the point where the mixture is just turning gelatinous. I thought I had screwed it up the first time, so made 2 batches of watermelon gel, one of which over set, making watermelon jello. I'm sure it was delicious, but as I mentioned before, I'm not THAT crazy about watermelon, so it didn't appeal to me so much. 
- 2 1/4 cups, divided, seeded, watermelon, pureed
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped

Combine gelatin and 1/4 cup watermelon puree; set aside. 
Bring remaining 2 cups puree to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat; add gelatin mixture, and stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in sugar and lemon juice, and chill mixture until consistency of unbeaten egg white (2 hours or so, check on it though).
Fold whipped cream into chilled watermelon mixture. Keep chilled until ready to use. 

White Cupcake
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup milk

Preheat to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins (makes 18-24). 
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. 
With mixer or in stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternating with the milk mixture until all mixed together. 
Pour the batter into prepared tins. Bake 20 minutes, then cool completely. Hollow out each cupcake making room for filling, and then pipe filling into each. 

Italian Meringue Frosting
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 egg whites
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- green food coloring
Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; add salt, and beat until stiff peaks form. Let sit while you cook syrup:
Cook first sugar, corn syrup and water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, and boil until a candy thermometer registers 248° (about 5 minutes).
With mixer running, gradually whisk hot syrup into egg whites, whisking until stiff peaks form and frosting is of spreading consistency.
I added a couple drops of green food coloring to the whole batch and put half the frosting in a pastry bag, then added a few drops more to the remaining frosting and filled another bag with the remaining frosting. 

Once cupcakes are filled, pipe a stripe of the darker green frosting across the tops of the cupcakes, then go back with the lighter frosting to make the alternating stripes, similar to how a watermelon has stripes. I felt like the look of the cupcakes was only so-so, as the frosting was a little aerated, so had a really bubbly texture, versus a watermelon that is rather firm. But, everyone who tried them liked them! I usually don't refrigerate cupcakes, but since these had the gelatin filling, I didn't want to change them melting. Apparently the side effect was that the filling had a delightful chill, perfectly capturing the summer refreshment of watermelon. 

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