Being big ol' Nerds (with a capital N), Mr. C and I both jumped at the chance to make cupcakes for an after-party for Firefly convention last month. If you haven't happened to come across this series, think "Sci-Fi" meets "Spaghetti Western". And then add Nathan Fillion. A great series deserved a great cupcake to represent it. This is what we came up with:
And this was our inspiration:
Kaylee is the quirky little mechanic aboard Serenity who loves engines, sweet foods, and pretty things. Her cupcake represents her personality perfectly: we started with a matcha cake - a must for a story which takes place in a Chinese-inspired world. We then filled it with strawberry preserves and topped it with a light strawberry swiss buttercream - an reference to the memorable scene where Kaylee first tastes the almost-extinct red berry. Even the lop-sided icing represented Kaylee's efforts to act like a lady (something she never quite is able to pull off). The whole thing together was, dare I say it, pretty shiny.
Matcha Cake with Strawberry Preserves and Strawberry Swiss Buttercream
adapted from The Sweetest Kitchen
Makes 12 cupcakes
1 cup cake flour, not self-rising
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh matcha powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup skim yogurt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and matcha powder. Whisk to combine. Using your hands, add in the butter and incorporate until the butter is crumb sized and mixed throughout the flour.
2) In a large cup, whisk together eggs, milk, yogurt and vanilla. Using a spoon or an electric mixer on slow, add wet ingredients in three parts. Beat until ingredients are just incorporated. Do not overbeat.
3) Divide batter evenly among 12 cupcake liners. Bake 17 to 20 minutes, or until your cake tester comes out clean.
4) Let the cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack. Once cupcakes have cooled completely, cut a small cone, about an inch down, into the cupcakes and fill the hole with strawberry preserves.
Strawberry Swiss Buttercream
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup butter, softened and cubed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup pureed strawberries
1) Place egg whites and sugar in a double boiler. With the water simmering, whisk the whites until the sugar grains have all disintegrated.
2) Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl, careful not to drip any water into the eggs. With an electric mixer, beat the eggs until they form stiff, glossy peaks. Reduce the mixer speed, and slowly add the butter, one small cubed at a time. Mix until it seems like your mixture has begun to curdle (don't worry, it hasn't!) and then keep mixing until smooth. This will take quite a while, but don't give up!
3) After smooth, slowly incorporate the pureed strawberries. Use immediately.
"Couldn't get ahold of no flour, so it's mostly protein. In fact, it's pretty much what we just had for dinner. But I tried to get the frosting as chocolatey tasting as possible."
Edit: I got an email from a reader asking about the Firefly-con that these were made for: Can't Stop the Serenity is a global event that raises money for Joss Whedon's charity, Equality Now. Look out for a Can't Stop the Serenity even near you - it's tons of nerdy fun and it's for an amazing cause!