Wasabi and White Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Icing

Yes, you read it correctly – “wasabi” in a cupcake!  Why not? You find all sorts of interesting ingredients in truffles lately so wasabi in a cupcake isn’t too weird, right?  Anyway, this recipe also came from “Saved by Cake” by Marian Keyes.

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Makes: 12

Cupcakes:

3-1/2 ounces white chocolate

7 Tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small cubes

1/2 cup superfine sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

1 Tablespoon wasabi paste

Salted Caramel Topping:

7 Tablespoons butter

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup golden syrup (or substitute with dark corn syrup)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

** Even though substitution for golden syrup is mentioned here, I highly recommend for you to get golden syrup (most larger supermarkets or specialty stores have golden syrup). 

Line a cupcake pan for 12 cupcakes and preheat the oven to 350F.

Melt the chocolate using your favorite method (I used microwave to gradually melt the chocolate), remembering that this is white chocolate and is easy to burn.  Add the butter to the chocolate and stir until everything is melted and combined.  Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar.  The mixture might look a little strange and “congealy.” Don’t worry, let it all cool for about 10 minutes, ten add the vanilla extract and beat with an electric mixer for a full 3 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time; sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt and fold through.  Finally, add the wasabi paste and make sure it’s distributed evenly.  Divide the mixture among the cupcake liners.  Bake for 22 minutes; cool the tray on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the salted caramel topping by putting the butter, brown sugar, golden syrup, vanilla, and salt into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and melt over a gentle heat.  When the butter and sugar have melted, raise the heat.  Whisk like mad until the mixture starts bubbling, but don’t let it boil.  Keep it at that bubbling point for about 5-8 minutes and it should thicken a little.

When you’re satisfied with its consistency, let it cool a little before icing the cupcakes – if it’s too hot, it’s liable to run down the sides.  However, if it cools down too much, it won’t spread easily enough.  So feel free to reheat it a bit if it’s gotten too stubborn and resistant, or let it cool down if it’s gone a little free-spirited with itself.  Finish by sprinkling the top with a few grains of sea salt.

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You can get wasabi paste at any Asian markets.

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We love golden syrup! Great for baking, but also delicious on toasts!

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If you don’t feel like making caramel topping, you can just use a good quality caramel sauce.  We love this caramel sauce from Trader Joe’s (just briefly microwave until the sauce is spreadable).

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My opinion:  Another Marian Keyes recipe for adults!!  Both of my children weren’t too thrilled with these cupcakes; one showed outright distaste claiming she can taste the wasabi, and another was impartial to it but preferred not eating it.  However, once again the adults LOVED it!  I loved the fluffy and dense cake, the subtle wasabi flavor which gave a deeper taste to the cake combined with the salted caramel sauce made this a pure winner!  I really think the combination of wasabi and white chocolate were wonderful!

Raspberry-White Chocolate Bombe

Yesterday was my youngest daughter’s birthday.  I didn’t know quite what to do, because almost every birthday we were away from home on different vacations.  You all know I usually don’t cook or bake much during the Summer so I felt a bit stressed and pressured…  Anyway, I relied on my crockpot and made Slow Cooker Butter Chicken, Slow Cooker Dry Spiced Dal, Peruvian chicken empanada eggrolls (this link is the one for Chicken Cordon Bleu Eggroll recipe, but if you scroll to the bottom you’ll see the empanada eggrolls), and my power slaw (with red cabbage, golden beets, jicama, broccoli and apple).  Now, the birthday cake… After doing much weighing and changing my mind, I decided to do this:

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Serves 12 (from Cook’s Country, Feb 2012)

1/4 cup raspberry liqueur, such as Chambord
1/4 cup raspberry-flavored gelatin
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 pound white chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 (9-inch) white cake round (see recipe below)
White chocolate curls, for decoration

White Layer Cake
Makes one 9-inch cake round
Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/8 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting pans
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
7/8 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray one 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray, dust with flour, and tap pan to remove excess flour. Mix milk, egg whites, and vanilla together in 2-cup measuring cup.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in bowl of electric mixer at low speed. Add butter and beat at low speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.

Add all but 1/4 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.

Pour batter in to prepared cake pan and using rubber spatula, spread into even layer. Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 21 to 25 minutes.

Rest cake in pans 3 minutes, then loosen from sides of pan with a knife. Invert onto large plate, re-invert onto wire racks. Cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

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The cake batter will be almost frosting like consistency, but more fluffy.
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FOR THE MOUSSE:

 Line 10-cup-capacity mixing bowl with plastic wrap. Bring liqueur to simmer in small saucepan. Stir in gelatin and salt until dissolved; remove from heat. Microwave 8 ounces white chocolate and ½ cup heavy cream in medium bowl, stirring every 30 seconds, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 1½ minutes. Stir in gelatin mixture and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Whip remaining 1½ cups cream with electric mixer until soft peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Gently fold one-third of whipped cream into cooled white chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining whipped cream until incorporated. Scrape one-third of mousse into prepared bowl and stud with raspberries. Repeat twice with remaining mousse and berries. Place inverted cake round on top of mousse, trimming cake to fit if necessary. Cover with plastic and chill until mousse is set, about 4 hours (and up to 24 hours).

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This is after mixing the liqueur, gelatin, and white chocolate mixture.
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After mixing the gelatin mixture and the whipped cream.
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Line the stainless steel bowl with plastic wraps.
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First layer of the mousse and raspberries – repeat 2x.
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Place the inverted cake and trim to fit into the bowl.  Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

TO ASSEMBLE: Turn out bombe onto large cake platter. Remove plastic. Microwave remaining 8 ounces chopped chocolate in bowl until melted and gently spread over mousse and cake. Press chocolate curls into white chocolate. Cut cake with warm knife and serve.
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HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE CURLS: Use a vegetable peeler to peel curls off of a large block of chocolate. (Large blocks of chocolate make nicer shavings than thin bars of chocolate.)

**Instead of making chocolate curls, I dissolved about 1 Tablespoon of powdered gelatin into a 1/8 cup of hot water.  Melted about 2 ounces of white chocolate;  whipped 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peak added the gelatin and white chocolate.  After spreading on the cake refrigerator about 1 hour and decorate with sprinkles (or whatever else you want to decorate with). 

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My opinion: Ridiculously delicious!!  Omg, the white sponge cake is going to be my “go to” white sponge cake from now on.  So good!! I am glad I made the decision to use my whipped cream frosting, because if I had just used the white chocolate frosting and covered with chocolate curls it would have been way too sweet.  This is like biting into a bit of cloud from heaven!! Am I exaggerating?  You be the judge.  If you don’t like mousse type of consistency or mousse, you may not enjoy this, but I personally thought this was a very delicate and charming cake! ALSO, let me assure you that this was not a difficult cake to make, so please don’t feel intimidated by the long recipe.  Just read it through and get a general sense of what goes on, then tackle it! 

White Chocolate and Matcha Tea Marbled Cake

I’ve been wanting to bake this cake ever since I saw on La Tartine Gourmande.  I have a folder for future recipes, and this recipe waited for me in this folder until today.  I made few changes, but basically it remained true to the original recipe.

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If you haven’t baked with matcha, this is a fun ingredient to work with.  Especially in this Western world, there are more interest in the Eastern part of world, and fortunately we are able to get a lot of ingredients, such as matcha in most big American cities.  Matcha, basically is a very finely milled green tea used for tea ceremonies in Japan.  I remember taking tea ceremony in Junior High, and loved the discipline of this art.  Matcha can be pricey (depending on the quality of matcha you are buying), but for baking purposes lower grade matcha is perfectly fine.  Please make sure you read the ingredients, because there are some matcha with sugar added (for mixed drink purposes), if you get matcha with sugar added just make sure to reduce the sugar in the cake. 

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There are many brands of Matcha you can buy, this is one I purchased from a large Japanese market.
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See how fine the powder is?  This fine quality makes Matcha a great ingredient for drinks and baking. 

Yields: 6 (4ounce) ramekin, or 1 loaf pan

3 large eggs
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
2.5 ounce white chocolate
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
3/4 cup fine sugar
1 pinch of salt
2 teaspoons Matcha tea
1 teaspoon baking powder

Melt the butter.  Soften the white chocolate by placing in a microwavable bowl and heating until softened (mine took about 1 minute – I heated 20 seconds each and tested for the softness).

In the bowl, place the eggs with sugar and beat until it is pale yellow.  Sift the flour with baking powder in another bowl, add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix well until blended.
Add the salt and melted butter and mix to blend.

Place 1/3 of the batter in a smaller bowl and blend in Matcha.  Add the softened white chocolate to the remaining 2/3 of batter and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Either grease a loaf pan (and add half of the chocolate batter, and then the matcha batter, and finishing with the remaining chocolate batter), or the ramekins (divide the chocolate batter between the 6 ramekins, and top with matcha batter). 
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Take a fork or tip of a knife and pass it through the different layers of batter.
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Bake the loaf for 50 minutes; ramekins for 30 minutes, or until a bamboo skewer comes out dry when inserted in the cake.  Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before unmolding. 
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My opinion:   I prefer most cakes without icings or frostings.  This marbled cake is a little version of a pound cake and it tastes so simple I love it!!  It has subtle matcha and white chocolate flavors (if you want stronger flavor, increase the measurements).  I like mine with subtle flavors so I will keep the measurement as it is. 

White Chocolate Hazelnut Tartlets

A while back ago, one of my friend made this and I fell in love (yes, I fall in love so many times over food it’s not even funny).  This is a great “finger food” type of dessert where you can take as part of a potluck food to office party and different parties.  Great for Christmas gatherings and Valentine too!! 

Don’t let the phyllo pastry intimidate you.  If you have never handled phyllo pastry don’t worry;  they are delicate, but they are also very forgiving.  If you tear a sheet, just put them together and brush melted butter!

This recipe come from Giada De Laurentiis (I don’t know how she stays so skinny, really…). 

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Makes 12 tartlets:

  • 8 (17 by 13-inch) frozen phyllo pastry sheets, thawed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 ounces good-quality white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella), optional
  • 1 (3-ounce) bar bittersweet chocolate, grated, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Lay 1 phyllo sheet on a work surface. Brush the phyllo with melted butter. Top with another phyllo sheet. Repeat with more butter and 2 more phyllo sheets. Cut the stacked phyllo sheets into 6 (5-inch) squares. Line each muffin cup with 1 stacked phyllo square, allowing the edges to ruffle and extend above the cup rims. Repeat with the remaining 4 phyllo sheets and melted butter. Bake until the phyllo cups are golden brown, about 9 minutes. Transfer the muffin pan to a cooling rack and cool completely.

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Meanwhile, stir the white chocolate and 1/4 cup cream in a heavy small saucepan over low heat until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Pour into a large bowl and cool to barely lukewarm. Stir in the hazelnuts. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1 1/4 cups cream in another large bowl to medium-firm peaks. Fold the cream into the white chocolate mixture in 2 batches. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

Spoon 2 teaspoons of the chocolate hazelnut spread into each phyllo cup, if using. Spoon the white chocolate mousse into the cooled phyllo cups, mounding slightly. Arrange the mousse-filled phyllo cups on plates. Sprinkle the bittersweet chocolate over the mousse and serve.

Do-Ahead Tip: The unfilled phyllo cups can be made 2 days ahead. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature. The white chocolate mousse can be made up to 8 hours ahead. Keep it refrigerated. The filled phyllo cups can be assembled up to 1 hour ahead. Cover and refrigerate them.

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My opinion:  I did something a little different this time.  Instead of the white chocolate  mousse, I froze the mixture in the freezer (thus a bit of a cottage cheese texture on the photos).  It was like eating the white chocolate mousse ice-cream!  Still tasted wonderful!! 

If you’re making this for the first time, try out the original mousse, because that is also very divine, just melts in your mouth – YUM!!

**If you don’t have time to make the shells, you can buy the phyllo shells in many supermarkets.