Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Before I start rambling first let me apologize for two things.
One: My pictures are horrible. I was very stressed, very excited, and very unorganized during this baking experiment. I was so focused on what I was doing that I didn’t really take many pictures, and the few I did are terrible.
Second: I don’t have a specific recipe for the frosting to give you. I just kind of winged it. There was lots and lots of tasting involved (which led to the most ridiculous sugar rush I have ever had in my entire twenty two years of living). And because the frosting was winged – and I was so focused on the taste – I don’t have a picture of it either. I know. I’m sorry.
But seriously, let's get down to business. Meet Kate, and meet Kate’s mom, Ann (Mrs. Helms).
Aren’t they both lovely? They both have a very dear spot in my heart. I’ve known Kate since we were freshmen in high school. She is one of my best friends. And Mrs. Helms has been like a second mother to me. Now what inspired this post tonight is something that Mrs. Helms makes for her family. Let me tell you it is absolutely DELICIOUS.
Enter peanut cake:
Now just listen here. This cake is a white cake that has every inch of it (top, bottom, and all four sides) covered in coffee frosting, and then every inch of the frosting is covered in chopped peanuts. The combination may sound random; It was to me the first time I was introduced to this cake back in high school. But I must tell you – this combination might be one of the best combinations known to man kind (it falls second to lemon and blueberry, of course. No combination can ever top that one in my heart).
I absolutely HATE peanuts. However, this cake, this combination, this heavenly duo of sweet coffee frosting and crunchy dry peanuts has won me over for life. I really wanted to make this cake in cupcake form…because what’s better than cake? CUPCAKES duh!?!?...so here is my attempt.
I made a simple buttermilk cupcake into something fantastic by creating a peanut crust at the bottom of it, topped it with a hefty serving of coffee frosting, and then covered that with chopped peanuts. Sadly, my dear friend Kate is currently residing in the Midwest, so she could not be here to tell me if my cupcakes live up to her mom’s cake. BUT. My friends and family who have tried these fell in love with them. I hope you do too.
(Inspired by Mrs. Helm’s Peanut Cake, Winged by me using Martha Stewart’s Buttermilk Cupcake Recipe)
3 cups cake flour (not self rising)*
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 ¼ cups sugar
5 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature**
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 cups chopped dry, unsalted peanuts (3 cups for peanut crust, 3 cups to top the frosting)***
Preheat the oven to 350F and line muffin pans with paper liners. Then combine the cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl (use a sifter if possible). Set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar with a miser on medium high speed, until pale and fluffy. Reduce mixer to medium speed and eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then add the yolks, one at a time, until combined. Reduce speed to low. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk. Make sure to start and end with the flour mixture (dry, wet, dry, wet, dry). Finally, beat in the vanilla.
Place 1 spoonful of chopped peanuts in the bottom of the muffin tins. Layer on top about 1 teaspoon of the batter. With a toothpick swirl the batter and the peanuts together (kind of like you would do with a marble cake) that way there is a little bit of batter to bind the peanuts together. You don’t want to completely mix the batter with the peanuts because then there will be no peanut crust. Then fill the remainder of the muffin tin with cake batter.
Bake cupcakes at 350F for 20-22 minutes. Make sure to rotate tins halfway through baking period. When they are done let cupcakes cool in muffin tins for 10 minutes, then remove them and place on a wire rack to completely cool. Once cooled, frost with a heavy amount of coffee frosting, and then cover the frosting with chopped peanuts. Eat.
Like I said earlier, I do not have a specific recipe to give you for the coffee frosting. I just started with a basic vanilla frosting and gradually added instant espresso by the teaspoon until I thought it tasted good.
*If you don’t have cake four, using all-purpose flour for the entire recipe will be fine.
**If you don’t have buttermilk, pour a cup of milk into a bowl and squeeze the juice of one lemon into it. Let it stand for 5 minutes so the acid from the lemon juice allows the milk to curdle and sour. Then measure out the amount you need.
***You may need more, or less, peanuts depending on how much you put on the crust and on top.