Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cake of the Week: Apple Ginger Cupcakes with Ricotta Cheese Icing

As I said last week, I’ve been a bit of a bottomless pit recently. There was a picture of a certain Apple Ginger Cupcake with a bite taken out of it posted on my blog for a long time. Taunting me. Every day. Multiple times per day (I’m a very attentive blogger). And all I could think, was I want that. (OMG - seriously, click on that link - I crack myself up!)

So anywho, on Friday, I headed home from work with one thing on my mind…one plan for my evening. (Yes, I know, I’m kind of “lame” by normal Friday-night-22-year-old-in-a-city standards. But whatever, I do what I want.)- OMG this is the day'o'hillarious links - please please click on that one!

Usually I’m opposed to cupcakes – it’s a cake-to-frosting ratio/distribution thing. But thanks to this gorgeous dessert picture, I was in the mood to take a big bite out of a delicious cupcake.

And I have to say, they turned out quite well! I used one granny smith apple for tartness, and one gala apple for sweetness. In the future, I might toss in a 3rd apple, just because the chunks of apple-pie-esque goodness in the cupcakes are so delicious. Also, I didn’t have fresh ginger, so I used teaspoon of ground ginger. Maybe I should have used more…the cupcakes aren’t very ginger-y, but they do taste good!

And, as you can see, I made cupcakes, and then a mini-bundt cake with the rest of the batter. Basically just because I ran out of cupcake tins - and because bundt cake with a dollop of ricotta cream sounded pretty good as well. 

The frosting was a project in itself. I have a bad association with ricotta cheese – mainly stemming from a ricotta cheesecake I made back in high school. It’s a texture thing. If you expect ricotta cheesecake to be the same texture as regular cream-cheese cheesecake, you will be disappointed. Same with this frosting – don’t expect the normal whipped cream/buttercream texture. That being said, I am really enjoying this ricotta cream!!! Once you embrace the ricotta-ness, it is really good (I think I will be exploring ricotta the uses of ricotta in the coming weeks – because 1. it’s good, and 2. I now have a big tub of it in my fridge.)

I made the frosting in a blender, which smoothed out the ricotta a bit. I must have messed up on the chocolate addition though – I used semi-sweet chocolate chips. Four ounces – how many chocolate chips is that??? (I’m really not a math person!)

So my calculations (involving the Nutrition Facts: if there are 24 servings of chocolate chips in a bag, and a serving is about 1 tablespoon, and the bag is 12 ounces, then how many tablespoons is 4 ounces???)

My conclusion: about 4 tablespoons. But that may not be right…my ricotta frosting is much chocolatier-looking than the picture I had been oogling all week. Oh well. It still tastes delish!

Some other suggestions for the frosting:

-       I added about ½ cup extra powdered sugar.

-       Also, the recipe says to let it sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Mine needed to wait about 2-3 hours until it was solid enough.

-       This recipe makes a lot of frosting – which is great as leftovers for graham cracker/finger dipping! (It never gets hard, so think of it more as ricotta cream topping than frosting)

Hope you enjoy it!

Apple Ginger Cupcakes -

  • Two apples diced 
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 inch fresh Ginger root finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Ricotta Cheese Icing-

  • 2 cups Ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 oz dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon milk

In a skillet melt 1/2 stick of butter on low heat. Increase temperature to medium high and add finely diced ginger sauteing for a minute. Add apple pieces and mix to cover in butter. Cover apples in coat of cinnamon, more or less depending on preference. Cook for about 5 minutes or until apples start to soften. Set aside and let cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and fill 24 cupcake tins with paper liners.

Combine dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda and salt) and sift together in a large bowl. Set aside.

In standmixer with beater attachment, or using a handmixer, combine wet ingredients (oil, buttermilk, eggs, vinegar and vanilla) on low speed. Slowly mix until well blended. Add dry mixture in slowly until all incorporated.  On low speed add apple mixture. Spoon mixture into cupcake liners. You can fill nearly to the top because it won’t expand too much when baking.

Cook 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in cupcakes comes out clean.

Ricotta Cheese Icing

In standmixer with beater attachment on medium speed mix ricotta cheese, orange juice and powdered sugar until well combined.

While mixing melt dark chocolate and milk either using a double boiler or by slowly heating in the microwave. Add chocolate to cheese mixture and beat on high until mixture stiffens. Refrigerate for at least an hour before icing cupcakes.