Saturday, March 31, 2007

White Chocolate Cupcakes

At Christmas, I got a gift card to Barnes & Noble, and the minute I saw it, I knew what it was destined for: my copy of The Essential Baker by Carole Bloom. No matter that I'd be biding my time for three months til the book was published. Occasionally, even I can manage the deferred-gratification thing.

After I bought the book, I walked around with it, perusing it, flipping through the pages, cringing that the recipes are formulated on extra-large eggs (sigh), then trying to decide what to try first. Ultimately, I couldn't get away from the White Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting. The book has a photo of these beauties, and although I'm not a gigantic fan of white chocolate, they looked too appealing not to try.

The recipe makes a dozen cupcakes, a pretty rational amount, although in hindsight, I might have made a few more. More on that in a bit. The recipe involves making a batter, then whipping and folding in egg whites. No problems with how the batter came together, although I think I should probably have made a few more cupcakes. I definitely overfilled the tins in the cupcake pan I used.

The problem here? I looked in on the cupcakes halfway through their baking time, and they looked great. When I pulled them out of the oven, every one of them had sunk in the middle. The plus? The recipe made plenty of really delicious white chocolate-cream cheese frosting to cover the mishap. (Side note: As I discovered with Karen's birthday cake this year, white chocolate and cream cheese are amazing together in frosting.)

I had to consult with Joseph Amendola and Nicole Rees (Understanding Baking) to see what might have gone wrong. In their chapter on cakes, they suggest that cakes sink due to stale or wrong kind of leavening; or too much fat in the batter. I'm ruling out the fat issue (only 5 tablespoons of butter, plus an egg yolk). And if it is the leavening, I'm surprised. The batter contains a bit of buttermilk, and consequently is leavened chemically with baking soda (and the whipped egg whites). I checked the box of baking soda, and it hasn't passed its expiration date. So a bit of a mystery here. It's a good thing that the cupcakes are so good. I'll definitely make them again, and I hope that next time, they turn out with a nice domed top instead of a sinkhole.


Dave in Toronto said...

What's up with extra-large eggs? Are they un-PC?

Chris H said...

It's not that extralarge eggs are un-PC. It's more that most recipes are formulated to use plain old large eggs, so that's what I buy and tend to have on hand. Because recipes are created with specific proportions, you need to use the specified ingredients. If a recipe specifies extralarge eggs, it has been created to accommodate that volume of egg.

It's OK. Now I keep a dozen extralarge eggs on hand. If they're getting to their use-by date, I use them for French toast or scrambled eggs.