Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Plant a Tree Cupcakes (for Mystery Box #10)

Earth Day.

Growing up, I was taught that the way to celebrate this holiday was to plant a tree. So when I saw that this month's Mystery Box challenge was to create a cupcake for Earth Day, I decided to honor our good friends, the trees.

On an episode of Cupcake Wars (one of the few episodes I saw of it) the contestants were asked to bake cupcakes using ingredients that come from trees, and they were given a large table-full of ingredients from which to choose. However, most competitors chose the easy cupcake flavors -- maple, almond, and dates or figs in most cases -- and I was disappointed. I came up with a more adventurous idea to represent some of my favorite tree products: pear, almond, and...


My "Plant A Tree" cupcakes consist of a moist avocado cupcake, a caramelized cinnamon-pear filling, and a sweet, creamy almond frosting. The combination works surprisingly well - the cupcake is subtle (tasters said that they would not have known what was in them if I had not told them, although when tasting the cupcake by itself, without frosting or filling, they could detect the gentle avocado flavor) and the filling and frosting create balance with just the right amount of sweetness but without making it too rich.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Yellow (Lemon Blueberry Cake)

Spring is here, summer is well on its way. This is what my town looks like right now (this was on one of the very rare rainy days here):

Everything is in sunny yellow bloom. So it was only fitting that I made a sunny yellow cake for my grandma's birthday.

My grandma's dietary restrictions (no chocolate or nuts) have inspired me to branch out into new territories, since I have always believed that desserts with chocolate and/or nuts are always the best. I have begun to make exceptions to this rule, and while I will always be a die-hard chocolate lover and choose chocolate cake (especially with my mom's signature mocha glaze and blackberry filling) for my own birthday, I have a newfound appreciation for fruit-based cakes.

I adapted this recipe from Sweetapolita and replaced the lemon curd with an all-fruit blackberry jam. Don't look at her photos, they are far too beautiful in comparison to my amateur shots!

Just kidding. Please do look at her photos. They will convince you to make this cake just as they convinced me.