I have to admit, I’m in love with Cupcake Wars. I am fascinated watching shows like that and Chopped on Food Network, because I think it’s so neat watching people come up with recipes on the fly, with all these interesting flavor combinations! This past week I was watching with my parents while home for Easter, and the episode had several people using red wine in cupcakes. This, of course, intrigued me, and I immediately starting looking up wine cake recipes. Unfortunately, it seems that the chocolate-red wine combinations has the chance to make a dry, very dense cake, and all the white wine cake recipes I found started with boxed mix (um, no – to me, that’s not really a recipe!).
After searching around for a bit, I randomly found a champagne cake recipe, and decided to give it a whirl. For these cupcakes, I made a champagne cupcake batter, a very light strawberry and champagne cream filling, and a champagne buttercream.
The champagne cupcakes are interesting – they come out a very pale color (not really golden), and the inside crumb is almost a combination between a cupcake and a bread – dense, but slightly sweet. I can’t quite think of another item that has a similar texture – but the cupcake is definitely good!
The strawberry filling didn’t turn out quite the way I had hoped. I had originally intended to make a raspberry filling, but apparently my grocery store had a shortage of unsweetened raspberries, so I had to switch over. When I pureed the strawberries, I added some champagne in there to hopefully mix the flavors. But when added to the cream mixture, I seemed to need a lot of strawberries to get any flavor at all, and I didn’t want to have an overpowering strawberry flavor to these cupcakes.
As for the buttercream – very interesting. I didn’t have the shortening the recipe called for, so I went with straight butter (which is what we tend to do in school anyway). After mixing everything together, I tasted no champagne, and just sweet butter. Because of this, I started pouring more and more champagne into the buttercream to try to get the flavor in. I think it ended up alright, but if I made this recipe again, I would definitely use a sweeter champagne, or perhaps Moscato, in both the cake and the buttercream – something with a more intense flavor.
All in all, the cupcakes are pretty good, and many people sure seem to like them! The day I made them I wasn’t as pleased, but I tried them again this morning, and overnight the champagne flavor seems to have come out a little bit – to be honest, I feel like I can almost taste a hint of the bubbles! I think that these are definitely something that needs to sit overnight before serving to allow the flavors to really develop.
Recipes used are below…
Champagne Cupcakes adapted from Crazy About Cupcakes
- 2/3 cup butter, at room temp
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 3/4 cups pastry flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup champagne
- 6 egg whites, at room temp
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line cupcake pan with liners.
- Cream the butter and sugar together (with paddle attachment) until light and fluffy (around 5 minutes).
- In a separate bowl, sift the remaining dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder, and salt).
- Alternately mix the dry ingredients and champagne into the butter, mixture, starting and ending with the dry.
- After batter is smooth, transfer to a separate bowl.
- In a large clean bowl, beat the egg whites (with whisk attachment) until stiff peaks are formed. Fold egg whites into the batter in thirds.
- Fill cupcake lines three-quarters of the way full, and bake for 20 minutes (or until toothpick inserted comes out clean).
- Cool cupcakes in pan.
Champagne Buttercream Frosting adapted from Crazy About Cupcakes
- 1.5 cups of butter (3 sticks)
- 1/2 cup champagne
- 4.5 cups powdered sugar
- Soften butter in a mixer with paddle attachment.
- Slowly add in a champagne and powdered sugar, alternating until everything is completely combined.
- Beat until smooth.
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp champagne
- 6 or 7 large frozen strawberries
- In a mixer with a whisk attachment, start beating the heavy cream until frothy; add in sugar, and continue to mix on medium-high until soft peaks form.
- In a food processor or blender, puree strawberries and champagne until a paste is formed.
- Spoon strawberry mixture into whipped cream to taste.
- Take a corer and cut a piece out of the center of each cupcake (see picture below).
- Using a pastry bag (with or without a large round tip), fill cupcakes with strawberry cream mixture.
- Using a pastry bag (I used an Ateco 824 tip), frost cupcakes with champagne buttercream leaving an edge of the cupcake visible above the wrapper.