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Blue Ribbon Winner: Neapolitan Delight Cupcakes
Neapolitan Delight Cupcakes
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Cupcake baking is the latest craze. Ever since I've started watching 'Cupcake Wars', I've gone from being entertained, to becoming intrigued, and finally, it has turned into an obsession. How do I know this is more than a hobby? Most of my downtime has involved watching the episodes of 'Cupcake Wars', checking out cupcake bakeries in cities I visit to taste test their products, borrowing cupcake cookbooks from the library, and experimenting in my own kitchen with cupcake creations.
The creation of the Neapolitan Delight occurred when I decided to make the chocolate ganache that I frequently see being used on 'Cupcake Wars'. I had no idea how to make it, however, it looked divine.
I bought two Betty Crocker cupcake books with clear instructions and photographs. One had the coveted chocolate ganache recipe. I realized once I made the chocolate, I had to be ready to use it. It took me several weeks of pouring over photos and reading recipes before I decided on what to bake.
Shortly after I bought the cookbooks I unwittingly picked up a county fair booklet. I'd never attended the county fair, much less submitted any baked goods. However, when I read through the scheduled events it occurred to me that the fair could be my venue for getting outside opinions on my baking. I became very excited and shared my plans with family members.
In the weeks that followed, and before the due date to submit the products, I baked, offered my products to neighbors and family, who taste tested everything, and tweaked what I wanted to do.
The Neapolitan Delight was one of two baked good submissions I registered in the fair. Both the cupcake, and my Key Lime Pie entry, won first place Blue Ribbons.
Blue Ribbon CupcakeClick thumbnail to view full-size
- 1.5 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup superfine sugar, also called, 'castor' sugar
- 3 X-tra Large eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, not imitation
- 1.5 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder, check that it is fresh
- For the Frosting: Strawberry Mascarpone
- 1 8 oz container mascarpone cheese, Italian sweet cream cheese
- 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
- 1-1.5 teaspoon strawberry extract
- For the Chocolate Ganache: Chocolate Ganache Filling
- 18 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1 Cup Heavy cream
Three Part Process
- Preheat oven temp to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in muffin pan. For Cupcake Batter: Put the butter and superfine sugar into a bowl and beat together until pale and creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. Then, sift in the flour and baking powder and FOLD gently.
- Divide the batter evenly into the 12 muffin cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until risen and firm to the touch. Do not let it get too brown. Also, take care to fill the cups only 2/3 full or they will bake over the liner. When ready, remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for at least 15 minutes. While the batter is baking, take the mascarpone cheese out of the refrigerator to come to room temperature.
- While cupcakes cool make the Chocolate Ganache Filling: Pour 18 oz of semi sweet chocolate chips into a bowl. Slowly heat 1 cup of heavy cream taking care not to let it boil. Carefully pour the cream onto the chocolate stirring constantly until smooth and rich. Let this cool at room temperature.
- Using an apple corer, or the end of a wooden spoon, remove the center of the cupcake 2/3 of the way into the cupcake, leaving some batter on the bottom. Set aside and let cool another 5 minutes.
- While this cools, make the Strawberry Mascarpone Frosting: Place 8 oz of softened mascarpone cheese into a bowl. Beat in confectioner's sugar and strawberry extract. Set aside.
- Fill the cupcakes with the chocolate ganache and place in the freezer for 5 minutes. When cooled remove from the freezer (you can also use the refrigerator for this step), and frost with the Strawberry Mascarpone Frosting. Decorate with a flower, strawberry or edible pearl and serve to your guests. Enjoy!
Helpful tips for cupcakes:Click thumbnail to view full-size
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A Terrific Baking Resource:
Notes from the Chef
First, I'd like to give credit to the cookbook, The Easy Way Baking, which was my 'go to' book for basic batter-from-scratch-recipes, as well as the tutorial on baking tips. Published by Parragon Co. it has been a splendid resource for me. Between the classic white cupcake batter I used from the book, and the online videos of how to make a chocolate ganache, I gathered confidence and momentum, once my inner baking goddess was unleashed. In the end, I was inspired to combine the classic flavors of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, found in Neapolitan ice cream, to create my cupcake version of this. Never in my wildest imagination would I have dreamed that I would be immersed in so much enjoyment that I would be shoving it into people's mouths with a directive, "Taste this...it's so good!" Alas, some days I have no humility. Still, from my meager kitchen and my love for experimenting that no science teacher I've ever had could have known, I entered and won my first Blue Ribbons. Thanks judges from the Chowan Regional County Fair...you made my day!