Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Goodnight Rose Cupcakes (Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes with Rosewater Meringue Buttercream Frosting)

I was kind of bored the other night and decided that I was going to make interesting cupcakes despite the fact that my beloved KitchenAid mixer has been dead for the past month and its replacement is nowhere in sight. I’ve been on a bit of a rose water kick lately, so I decided to use a combination of flavors that are very common in Indian and Middle Eastern sweets: rose water, pistachio, and cardamom. Because the flavors are so delicate, I decided on a chiffon cupcake, but coming up with the recipe took me a while because I couldn’t find anything decent on which to base mine. After much scientific analysis (ha ha, not really) and studying of other recipes, I came up with these. (The cakes are best within 2 days of baking them – their texture is very delicate and light but they start to lose that quality after a few days.)

These might be my favorite cupcakes that I have made to date - the silkiness of the floral meringue buttercream beautifully complements these delicately fragrant and nutty cupcakes, and the finished product is really just so pretty and perfect for a special occasion (or just a boring Wednesday night).And if you’re wondering about the name, it’s because I’ve been listening to way too much Ryan Adams lately, and I found the name to be perfectly fitting.

Goodnight Rose Cupcakes
(Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes with Rosewater Meringue Buttercream Frosting)

(makes 16 cupcakes)

For the cupcakes:
1 cup + 2 tablespoons cake flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground cardamom powder (use ½ teaspoon if using pre-ground)
¼ cup milk
¼ cup canola oil
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 egg whites
Large pinch cream of tartar
2 tablespoons sugar
¾ cup pistachios, finely chopped; reserve 2 tablespoons for decorating the cupcakes

For the frosting:
4 egg whites
¾ cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
2 sticks butter at room temperature, cut into small pieces
1 ½ teaspoons rosewater*
1-2 drops pink food coloring
For decorating the cupcakes:
16 dried rosebuds (see this post on where you can get them)
2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios (reserved from above)

* Available at Middle Eastern or Indian grocery stores. I used Al Wadi Rose Water, because I have found Al Wadi to be the best brand for all types of syrups/flavorings - their flavors are pure and strong, and they are the only brand I use. I made these cupcakes another time using a different brand of rose water for the frosting and I had to use almost 3 tablespoons of it because it was very mild. Use your judgment when adding the rose water - you don't want the flavor to be very strong, but it should be distinct. Add it ¼ teaspoon at a time if you're not sure how much to use - an extra ¼ teaspoon won't be disastrous but an extra teaspoon will be!


Make the cupcakes:
Heat oven to 325° F. Line muffin pans with papers.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl and using a handheld whisk, blend together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cardamom powder. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. If using a stand mixer, add the milk, canola oil, egg yolks, and vanilla, and beat on low speed for one minute. Otherwise, whisk together the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Make a well in the flour mixture, add the egg mixture, and, using a spatula, stir the mixture for 30 seconds to fully combine all the ingredients. This mixture will be thick.

In a clean metal bowl, beat the egg whites on medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Add the cream of tartar and sugar and beat on high speed just until the whites just hold stiff peaks.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the beaten whites and fold well to combine. Add the whites and pistachios (except for the reserved 2 tablespoons) to the bowl with the flour mixture and fold well to combine, making sure that there are no streaks left.

Fill each cup of the muffin pan ¾ full with batter (this goes for both regular and minis). Bake the cupcakes until they spring back to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean, about 10 minutes for minis and 17 minutes for regular cupcakes.

Make the frosting:
Set the bowl of a stand mixer over a pan of simmering water. Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl. 

Whisk the mixture until the sugar has dissolved, the whites are starting to thicken and turn white, and the temperature is about 110° F. (You don’t need to be exact – just whisk for about 2 – 2 ½ minutes and you should be fine.)

Attach the bowl to the mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on high speed until the whites are completely cool – this will take about 8 minutes.

(Note: You can do this step and the next using a handheld mixer, but be warned that it is a long, painful, and loud process. My stand mixer is dead and I am awaiting a new one, so I had to make this using a hand mixer. Lessons I learned: 1) Make sure to move the mixer around so that you are evenly beating all the whites. 2) Wear earplugs – those small mixers are very loud at high speed and standing over it for 8 minutes is not good for your ears. I learned this lesson after 2 minutes of beating, and my ears were still ringing the next day. 3) Take a few breaks – you’re going to have to slowly add the butter in the next step – which will probably take another 5 minutes – so you don’t want to completely tire out your arm.)

Once the whites are cool, add the butter one piece at a time, completely incorporating each piece before adding the next. When you have added almost all of the butter, the mixture will start to separate and appear curdled, but don’t worry – just keep beating and add the rest of the butter, and it will come together. I promise. Continue beating until the frosting is smooth and silky.

Add the rose water and 1 drop of the food coloring. Beat well to incorporate. The frosting should be a very pale pink color. You can add another drop if you’d like, but don’t make it too dark.

Assemble the cupcakes:
When the cupcakes are cool, frost each one using a large angled star tip – if you can, try to make the frosting look like a rose. Top off each cupcake with a dried rosebud and sprinkle a little bit of the reserved crushed pistachios around the rosebud.


doubleboiler said...

These sound like they'd be delicious! I love pistachio, and I'd imagine the rose would be an amazing complement! I'm new to your site and so far I am just taking everything in- I am a *near* vegetarian who loves dessert so I feel right at home here. I look forward to more great, inventive recipes!

Kathy said...

So pretty! And...I'm drooling at the combination.

If rose is turning you on at the moment, I suggest you try the delicious rose-flavored Gypsy Love tea by Zhena's Gypsy Teas:

Meghan said...

im sorry but this recipe... this cupcake... is IMPRESSIVE.

you amaze me sometimes!

Brandon said...

Brilliant. Have you ever tried using OATMEAL in cupcakes?

JEP said...

Loved this post! I'm probably the only cook who is stand-mixerless...but I appreciate your tips for a successful cupcake & frosting! Keep posting the desserts:) Thanks for all the comments over on the SE site!

M^2 said...

Damn - that frosting looks so good that I just licked my screen.

malini said...

You made pomatcha cup cakes last month which I could still taste when I see them on your blog.
i'm sure that you will make these too for me. God they look awfully delicious!

xiao zhu said...

wow, you totally need to start your own cupcake store roopa! these are seriously gorgeous and just perfect.

K8teebug said...

This cupcake tastes phenomenal.

Alexandra MacArthur said...

I made these with salted butter and they were still good!

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