Thursday, September 19, 2013

Cupcake Game Changer

Mojito Cupcakes - Jimmy's Kitchen, Brighton, MA
Mojito Cupcake/Best Cupcake on Earth

     I really do struggle from time to time deciding which burger is the best burger I've ever eaten, which taco is the best taco or which cupcake is the best cupcake I've ever eaten. Now... I'm a HUGE chocolate fan. Duh. I'd take a hunk of a chocolate over a cocktail any day. So I would think that I'd think the best cupcake would be a big fat chocolate cupcake filled with chocolate, topped with chocolate, and sprinkled with chocolate shavings or something. But this recipe... this recipe for mojito cupcakes that I found on Brown Eyed Baker... may have just changed the game. I had a mojito cupcake once or twice before from Kickass Cupcakes and they were good, but this one was a kajillion times better. Jimmy and I were going to purchase some for Karl just for the fun of it, but then we thought "why not just make them instead?" Such a great idea. The cupcake has rum in it, there is a rum glaze on top of the cupcake, and the frosting has rum in it. It's sweet (but not overly sweet), refreshing and minty. It's just to die for. They're the absolute best about an hour out of the oven when they're about room temp, the rum glaze has crisped up the top just a tad, and the frosting is room temp and perfectly creamy. I swear I ate a gallon of that frosting before putting it on the cupcakes. I attribute part of our success to Jimmy's kitchen aid. That thing whipped up butter like I've never seen before. Anyway... it may seem a little complicated, but these cupcakes are a real crowd pleaser, even if it's a one person crowd.

Mojito Cupcakes

For the Cupcakes:
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup mint leaves, bruised
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
Zest and juice of 1½ limes
2 tablespoons white rum
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

To Brush the Cupcakes:
2 tablespoons white rum
2 sprigs fresh mint

For the Frosting:
1½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
4¼ cups powdered sugar
1½ tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons white rum

1. Combine the buttermilk and the ½ cup mint leaves in a small saucepan over medium heat. Warm until just starting to steam (do not simmer), then remove from the heat and cover. Let steep for 15 to 30 minutes. Once finished, strain the milk into a bowl using a fine mesh sieve. The milk may appear curdled or clumpy, but it will come back together. Press on any milk solids and mint leaves to extract all the liquid possible. Give the milk a quick stir to smooth it out and set aside.

2. While the mint is steeping in the milk, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

4. In an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugar together until pale, light, and fluffy (about 5 minutes).

5. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs one at at time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

6. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the lime zest, lime juice, vanilla extract and rum. Mix until combined. 

7. Reduce the mixer speed low. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. Mix only until just incorporated, using a rubber spatula to give it one last mix by hand.

8. Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until just slightly golden and a skewer shows only moist crumbs attached, rotating the pan at the halfway point.

9. While the cupcakes are baking, combine the rum and mint sprigs in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat until the rum is heated through (do not let it simmer). Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let steep until ready to use.

10. Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 to 10 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack. Brush the tops of the cupcakes with the mint-infused rum. Set the cupcakes aside to cool completely before frosting them.

11. To make the frosting, whip the butter on medium-high speed of an electric mixer using the whisk attachment for 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing and scraping the sides of the bowl until all is incorporated. Give it a mix on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add the lime juice and rum and mix on medium-high speed until incorporated and fluffy. If the frosting appears a bit too soft, add some additional sugar, one spoonful at a time until desired consistency is reached. Frost cupcakes once they've cooled and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

Zinnekens - Cambridge, MA

Fruit Delight
     You know those places where you walk by the front door and the sweet sultry aroma brings you to your knees? Zinnekens is one of those places. Thus the reason for me loading up when I found them on Groupon. I mean.... come on... their front window says "Coffee, Chocolate and Waffles." How could I go wrong? They offer gourmet Belgian waffles with a multitude of toppings. Meagan, Jimmy, Karl, Dave and I all went and Meagan and I split the Fruit Delight with Belgian chocolate, bananas and strawberries. The waffle itself was, hands down, the best part. It was totally unlike any other waffle I've ever had in that it was mildly chewy. It was just so simple and delicious. Plus the warm melted Belgian chocolate. Oh man. I also tried a bite of Jimmy's, which was the Gourmand with bananas whipped cream and caramel, and Dave's, which was the Zinneken's with whipped cream, Belgian chocolate and speculoos. Dave's was DEFINITELY my favorite. That speculoos filled every little square of the waffle and had warmed up ever so slightly. With a little chocolate drizzled on top, it was a sugary death trap. I debated going back in and getting my own. A return trip to Zinneken's is definitely in order.

Border Cafe - Cambridge, MA

Corn and Bean Empanadas
     I know I've blogged about this place before, but I was reeeeeally watching weight for an upcoming race at the time, so I had a piddly 3 chips or something and a salad while there (don't get me wrong, the salad was incredible). This time, I went for the real deal. I wanted to devour 3 baskets of their piping hot chips myself... and I did. Ok not really, but I could've. After Zinneken's Jimmy, Meagan and I wanted something salty to follow our sugar overdose... naturally. We were just going to "get something small" at Border..... riiiiiight. Either way, we killed a few baskets of their phenomenal fresh tortilla chips with some queso dip before our "meals" arrived. I ordered the corn and black bean empanadas because I don't think I've ever actually had one. To me, they seem like the Mexican version of a pastie (a meat pie that us Michiganders are quite fond of). The little pockets of heaven were absolutely incredible!  I loved the crispy dough on the outside and I was really happy that the insides weren't stuffed full of cheese. That would've been too much I think. Instead it was just corn, beans and a little bit of melty cheese. The best part was the sauce in that little dish in the top of the picture. It was so good that I had to ask our waiter what was in it. It tasted like a pesto, had all the pesto flavors, but also had something different. Apparently it's some sort of roasted red pepper pesto with parmesan cheese, basil, garlic, etc. It was incredible on it's own and along with a forkfull of the empanada. So good. Great food, great service, great atmosphere.

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