Like most of us here, I’m no baker and don’t particularly enjoy the restrictions it brings. Exact measurements are not my thing. I like to experiment with ingredients, which is why I leave desserts alone. But, the purchase of a new Kitchen Aid mixer has propelled me into this unknown world, for my first true (not from a box) baking experience.
On a recent Sunday afternoon I was sitting at the bar of Café Atlántico when I came across kumquats soaking in St. Germain elderflower liquor. Coincidentally, later in the day I spotted some kumquats at Whole Foods, which is a rarity. It was one of those situations where you never hear or see anything for a long time and then it all comes at once. I love those moments so I bought two quarts of the fruit, not having any idea what I was going to do with them until the walk home.
Having never baked cupcakes from scratch I decided to go with a recipe straight from a reliable source. I hit the interwebs and found the vanilla cake recipe from Magnolia Bakery in New York. Of course, instead of just baking a simple vanilla cupcake I decided to experiment by throwing one of the kumquats in the mixture before placing them in the oven to bake. I’m one of those cupcake eaters that starts with the bottom working my way upward, eating the boring bottom part first and saving the tasty top for last. So I thought I would help that bottom out a little, letting the fruit give it a little kick I always thought it needed.
I wasn’t sure if the kumquat would be better peeled beforehand or as used as is, so I experimented by doing both. Each way worked, but the cupcake with the unpeeled fruit was my preference — it came out with a less sweet flavor and was more sturdy when sliced down the middle.
For the frosting, I halved and seeded a couple dozen kumquats and pureed them in a blender, then added this to equal parts room temperature cream cheese and butter with a couple cups of confectioners sugar and mixed it all for about five minutes on low to medium speed. This created a nice, fluffy cream.
For the garnish, I sliced-and-seeded some more kumquats and simmered them in sugar water for about half an hour to create a candied like effect. Usually you would do a 1:1 sugar-water mixture for a simple syrup; I suggest increasing the sugar by about half (note: keep the syrup for a later use in a cocktail!)
In case you are wondering, I did google around and came across Kumquat Cupcakery in New York, but oddly they don’t appear to make Kumquat Cupcakes — namesake only.
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