Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Eton Mess Cupcakes

I may have mentioned a time or two my enduring love for all things British. Although England is not renowned for its cuisine (I could happily go the rest of my life without ever trying blood pudding) there are certain dishes that pique my interest. Namely the desserts. When I first heard mention of banoffee pie in the movie "Love Actually" I couldn't believe that someone had invented such deliciousness! Sticky toffee pudding? Yes, please! Bakewell tart? Don't mind if I do! It shouldn't surprise you that I sampled all of these and more while in London last year.

One of the most iconic foods of England is the strawberry. Wimbledon coverage would be measurably shorter if they didn't devote entire montages to the infamous strawberries and cream served there and mention the staggering statistics that an average of 27,000 kilos of strawberries are eaten each Wimbledon with 7,000 liters of cream. That's my kind of diet! Every summer I look forward to devoting hours, camped out in front of the TV, to watching my favorite tennis players compete in one of my favorite countries. It's a fantastic tournament full of tradition and charm and I wouldn't miss it for the world! For those two weeks in June through July my social life grinds to a halt and I neglect housekeeping and even the poor cats as I immerse myself in the world of tennis. Dare I say my own tennis skills even improve as a result of watching the masters at work. My poor little brother didn't know what hit him when I dragged him out to play one Sunday after the men's final.

There's a British dessert that takes the concept of Wimbledon's strawberries and cream to the next level by combining strawberries, cream, and crunchy nuggets of meringue. Eton mess is a relatively simple concoction with ties to well-known Eton College, a posh boarding school that has educated royalty and produced prime ministers galore. Of course I, in my cupcake obsessed madness, needed to figure out a way to combine my love of cupcakes with this fantastic British dessert. Enter the Eton Mess Cupcake: yellow cake filled with fresh macerated strawberries topped with dollops of whipped cream and homemade crisp meringue.

Even though it meant I had to wait another day to taste this masterpiece, I wanted to make the meringues from scratch. That way I could shape them into these adorable spiked little buggers:

Yes, I'm aware that some look a bit dodgy but those didn't live long enough to make it onto the cupcakes. They became victims of my taste test.

I'm entering these in Hoosier Homemade's Summertime Cupcake Challenge because these cupcakes remind me of everything I love about watching Wimbledon every summer. Just like Wimbledon they're stylish and steeped in tradition but with a youthful, modern flair. That and they're darn tasty!

Eton Mess Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Ming Makes Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup milk

1) Preheat oven to 350 F.
2) Mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3) In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add vanilla and eggs, beating after each addition to incorporate.
4) Beginning with the flour mixture, add flour and milk alternately with three additions of flour and two additions of milk, beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just combined.
5) Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in cupcakes comes out clean.

4 egg whites
1 cup superfine sugar (or run granulated sugar through food processor)
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

1) Beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks.
2) Gradually add sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat until stiff and glossy.
3) Using a pastry bag, pipe spiked shapes onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
4) Bake at 225 F approximately one hour or until shapes are crisp and firm. Rotate pan once during baking.
5) Open the oven a crack and allow to dry overnight.

Note: This will make much more meringue than you need. Next time I'll try halving the recipe but posted the original version here until I've had a chance to test it.

Whipped Cream:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp granulated sugar
Pinch of salt

1) On high speed, beat whipped cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and salt and beat until stiff.

To Assemble Cupcakes:
1) Finely dice approximately seven strawberries and combine with a dash of sugar (or more to taste).
2) Cut a cone out of the top of each cupcake and discard. Fill cavity with diced strawberries.
3) Pipe whipped cream onto each cupcake and place meringue pieces on top.
4) Hum "Rule, Britannia!" to yourself while feasting on these babies!


HoosierHomemade said...

How fun are those! I love the little meringue tips! yum!
Thanks so much for adding them to Cupcake Tuesday and the Challenge!
I'm having a blast with this!

Christy said...

I love the creativity behind this idea!! I've never heard of this treat, but I will say I went to England for the first time last year, and I actually LOVED the food in England. I didn't have any blood of any kind, but everything else was incredible!

Diane said...

Ummmmm, these sound delish! Thanks for the recipe.

Sassy Sites! said...

Those look yummy! I'm your newest follower... come by and visit me at Sassy Sites! :)

Sourkraut said...

Thanks, everyone! Ms. Sassy, great blog! I'm now a follower too. Christy, I too loved the food in England. I'm guessing things have improved since that stereotype was established because I had some of the best roast beef while there along with some delicious Yorkshire pudding and pumpkin Parmesan soup. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!

21st Century Housewife© said...

Your cupcakes look beautiful - love the theme! And you are right - it wouldn't be Wimbledon without the strawberries!

Amanda said...

These are beautiful! And look delicious! I might actually feel badly for eating such a pretty cupcake. (but probably not for long...)