Thursday, August 19, 2010

Peach Cupcakes Three Ways

I love peaches. I am so excited about peaches finally being in season; I wait all summer for them to start appearing at the fruit stands. I generally prefer fresh fruit to any sort of baked/cooked fruit, but how could I resist peach cupcakes? I was so excited about peach cupcakes, in fact, that I couldn't settle on just one type, but had to make three!
Mmmmm, yummy fresh peaches chopped up and ready to make delicious cupcakes! Will they become filling? Frosting? Cake? So many exciting and noble destinies await them.
The first cupcake is peach cake with mascarpone cheese frosting. The cake recipe is this one from Smitten Kitchen, and it is wonderful! The cake is light and fluffy and so tasty! I used Martha Stewart's mascarpone cheese frosting on top.
I was worried about the frosting at first, because it just seemed so stiff and thick. But when I put some on a cupcake and took a bite, all my worries melted away as the frosting melted in my mouth. When you eat it, it is so much lighter and creamier than it appears. I don't like whipped cream, and this frosting tastes extremely whipped-creamy, so it's not my favorite, but despite my personal tastes I was able to recognize that this is good. Everyone else who's had one of these cupcakes loves, loves the frosting.
And here's a little tip for you all: to keep the peach slices on top from turning brown, I dunked them all in some triple sec before putting them on the cupcakes. People often use lemon juice to prevent fruit from browning, but I don't like the way that tastes, so I try and use liquers. I poured the triple sec onto a plate and quickly put in the slices, turned 'em over, and took 'em out. No need to let them soak. The triple sec worked beautifully (two days later, the peach slice on the one cupcake we have left still is not brown) and I don't think it altered the taste of the peach at all. Of course, if you had some sort of peach liquer that would be the best option. (Does anyone even make peach liquer?)
For the next two cupcakes, I used my favorite vanilla cake recipe, Amy Sedaris's Vanilla Cupcakes. I added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and 1/4 tsp each of nutmeg and allspice to make these vanilla spice cakes, which I thought would pair nicely with the peach.
This one is for people like me who don't like fruit chunks: vanilla spice cake with peach buttercream.
For the frosting, I pureed some peaches and added a half cup to the buttercream. I know I used two sticks of butter, and I think I used 1/2 tsp each of vanilla and almond extract, but I just added powdered sugar until I liked the consistency, so I'm sorry to say I don't exactly have a recipe to share. But I ended up with enough frosting for 24 cupcakes, if that helps anyone at all.
The last cupcake is the one I was most excited about: a peach cobbler cupcake. I made a quick streusel topping for half of the vanilla spice cupcakes and sprinkled it on before they went in the oven. I chopped up some peaches and cooked them with a bit of sugar and cinnamon (and a smidge of cornstarch to thicken the filling up a bit-- but I don't think I used enough to actually make much of a difference).
Mmmm, peach filling :) Once the little cakes were all filled, I made some vanilla bean whipped cream to put on top, and finished them off with a little drizzle of pureed peach.
Peach cobbler cupcakes! Yay! I have to admit that I haven't tried one of these, since I don't like whipped cream and am also not a big fan of cooked fruit fillings (or fruit chunks with cake), but they've gotten very good feedback. I am told they do, indeed, taste like peach cobbler, so I consider that a success. We have one left, so maybe I'll try it today. I suppose I ought to eat my own creations :)
UPDATE: Okay, so I tried it....and it's gooooood! I think the flavors of the brown sugar in the streusel and the cinnamon in the cupcake & filling stood out a little more than the actual peach flavor, but I only had a quarter of the cupcake, so maybe the peach would be more evident if you had the whole thing with all the filling. Maybe they just need more filling. Maybe I should use less cinnamon. In any case, they are very, very tasty, and the peach comes through enough that I can agree they're a pretty good representation of peach cobbler.
I boxed up most of these and passed them out to some friends and family, because having four dozen cupcakes in the house is not beneficial to anyone's waistline ;)

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