The best way to learn about a culture is by eating it, I always say. It’s so easy to be inspired when you learn more about a culture’s food and its history. Paired with my love for culinary challenges and my fascination with the cupcake’s versatility, finding and creating a cupcake recipe inspired by another dessert was something that excited me for the duration of my recent trip to London.
While I enjoyed the sights of London with its history, architecture, parks, and people, I felt most at home at the Borough Market where I picked up a small jar of pure Madagascan vanilla powder, a pinch of which would transform a simple buttercream into an aromatic addition to any cake. I was, however, unsuccessful in finding the right jam for me at the Market (I went on one of its lesser volume days). Then I was introduced to Fortnum & Mason where a modest jar of strawberry preserves waited for me.
From time to time, a How-to recipe video floats around the interwebs. It gets shared on Facebook, it might even garner a “Like” but very seldom do I actually make an attempt to item in question… until the Apple Rose.
For Thanksgiving, it seemed to hit all the right buttons for an autumn post meal dessert: apples, cinnamon, pastry, and of course the presentation was sure to wow. At the risk of this ending up in the “Nailed It!” meme pile, I gave it a go. I’m happy to say I actually nailed it.
I tend to judge a Chinese restaurant by their fried rice, a Thai place by the Pad Thai, a pizzeria by its pepperoni and cheese, and a bakery by its vanilla cupcake. The beauty of its simplicity lies in how versatile it can be yet how it can stand alone as a dessert show-stopper untouched. Two ways I’ve played with this recipe is first by giving it a tropical flare by topping it with toasted coconut and candied dried pineapple, and then filling the cupcake with something (in this case, some candy… more on that later).
The cake is the Magnolia Bakery vanilla recipe (yes, this Gingy Cake is not a ginger cake). I also used my usual pudding filling with a splash of bourbon for between the layers.
Now let me explain this cake design: a friend at work has expressed his hatred for the Shrek movie franchise on a number of occasions… so naturally, his birthday cake was going to be Shrek-themed. Shrek’s face was too hard and hideous to construct so I took the easy route and fashioned Gingy out of actual gingerbread cookie. This would have been great if my friend had actually seen a Shrek movie and got the reference…
Caramel and Chocolate. What a wonderful combination of rich decadent flavours. Separate them and what do you have? TWO wonderfully rich decadent flavours! My colleague and I set up a challenge for ourselves to pit a caramel dessert up against a chocolate one (sparked when I said “I think I’d choose caramel over chocolate any day.”)
The only rule was the caramel dessert could not contain chocolate and the chocolate dessert must be free of caramel. Already, as a representative for caramel, I felt like I had successfully put myself at a disadvantage. Caramel always tastes best when with chocolate but chocolate can stand on its own.
My colleague chose a worthy foe in a rich Mississippi Mudslide brownie. Me? I went with Caramel Tassies.
How would you vote?
Now that you’ve voted, check out the recipe for the dessert that won in the office.
So what is Sweet Tooth, you ask? It’s a dessert potluck that ends in a sugar coma. Here’s what you do: rally up bakers, eaters and sweets enthusiasts at work, book a meeting and a boardroom and then gorge. Socializing is optional.