Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Green Thumb: Sweet Pea Cupcakes with Sour Cream Frosting and Candied Mint

There are some colours that are pretty verboden when it comes to a dessert plate. No one wants to see electric blue or crayon purple next to their spoon. Magenta and chartreuse are even worse. It's hard not to imagine how many chemicals and food colours are hiding inside those unnatural shades. Then there is our old friend, green. It's fine on your dinner or lunch, but when it pops up in the middle of your confectioneries, it might turn your stomach a bit.

But, really, if you think about it, the healthiest things in life are green.


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I cannot stand to eat dinner without at least half my plate being covered in green. I'm a total vegetarian snob that way. When Mr. C is away, my meals consists almost elusively of steamed broccoli, stir fried spinach, and edamame. So why, I ask you, shouldn't I extend this love of green things to my desserts?

For this month's Dessert Wars, we were asked to create a green dessert that is both pretty to look at and delicious. We were warned that adding vegetables to our sweets would add a bit of an 'ick' factor. That warning just made me work a bit harder. I wanted to make my beloved vegetables into a dessert that was just as beautiful as any other sweet out there. Plus, I wanted this treat to be all-natural - no food colouring for me (We're going to get enough of that from the green beer).

This was what my veggie-pride produced:

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Now, I don't care who you are, but that is a beautiful green. It's light, fresh, and crisp - all qualities of it's main ingredient: peas. That's right. Those little green balls you used to hide under your napkin as a kid are now in a cupcake. You may be a bit frightened at first, but let me hold your hand and walk you through it.

The peas lend the cake their natural sweetness and, when paired with some extra virgin olive oil, the overall flavour gains a refreshing experience that I've never before tasted in a cake. The sour cream frosting is something else as well - it's leaps and bounds better than that crazy cream cheese stuff everyone seems to be toting around these days. It is sweet at first, but it quickly finishes with a light sour tang, which really mellows everything out nicely. The candied mint is that little extra refreshing twist to finish off dessert - because who has peas without a little bit of mint?

I hope this little green monster has converted all you veggie haters. Just think - you can get that green St. Patty's Day treat without using all that food colouring. Pretty neat, huh? Now that I've got this cupcake under my belt, we'll just have to see what other greens I can fit into our baked goods  . . . artichoke brûlée anyone?

sweetpea_RT

The Green Thumb Cupcake
Sweet Pea Cake with Sour Cream Frosting and Candied Mint
Adapted from Vanilla Garlic

Makes 20 cupcakes

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1/8 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs 

1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups of peas (pureed)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1) Preheat your oven to 375F. In a small bowl, combine and whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until well emulsified. Add the vanilla, peas, oil and lemon juice, and continue to whisk until everything is well combined. Add the flour and, with a wooden spoon, stir lightly until just combined.

3) Spoon into cupcake liners and bake for about 15 minutes, or until your cake tester comes our clean. Set out to cool before frosting

Sour Cream Frosting
1/4 cup butter (warmed)
1/3 cup sour cream
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1) Add the butter, sour cream, vanilla, and salt together and mix in a large bowl. When everything is well combined, add the icing sugar, bit by bit, until you've gotten the right consistency (light, fluffy, and forming soft peaks). With a small off-set knife, spread the icing onto your cooled cupcakes.

Candied Mint
Fresh mint leaves
Egg white, slightly beaten with 2 tablespoons of water
3 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 drop spearmint extract

1) Wash your mint leaves and carefully dry. Add the extract to your egg white/water mixture and whisk a bit more. Pour out your sugar onto a plate.

2) Dip each leaf, one at a time, into the egg white mixture. Get off any excess egg white, and cover both sides with sugar. Lay leaves out on a piece of wax paper to dry until crisp. Top cupcakes and enjoy.


And, since this is being entered into Dessert Wars, I've got to show you all the fabulous prizes you could win if you join in all the sweet green fun:











11 comments:

Lizzy said...

Gorgeous cupcakes!!! And I'm impressed you did it without food coloring :)

Raina said...

These look beautiful! Definitely no ick factor here. They sound delicious. Love the candied mint topping too:)

Evan Thomas said...

I would be skeptical of the flavor but they look perfect for St. Patrick's day.

ravienomnoms said...

Oh my goodness I am in love with these! I love green anything haha

Monet said...

Oh I just ADORE these. You are a baker after my own heart...we love mixing things up. I can't wait to give these a try. Thanks for sharing your sweetness with me. This was a great way to end my Monday. I hope you have a safe and happy week!

Lora said...

These are just wonderful and so pretty too. As a rampant food color abuser I take my hat off to you. Such natural lovely color.

Galexi Cupcakes said...

Courtney,
My friend!! I haven't spoken to you in a long time. How are you? These cuppies look marvelous! And so within the relm of St. Paddy's day to boot.. Yum!

Leanne said...

Love love the colour. And the wrapper. These are so pretty. And no food colouring-- thank god.

I would be even more impressed if you could make veggie brulee happen. (Make it happen!)

Elizabeth said...

Ha! I'll probably pass on the artichoke brûlée, but this cupcake looks great!

http://agirlinherkitchen.blogspot.com

Faith said...

Oh I just love your submission for dessert wars!!! I did candied mint as well!

Lisa said...

I LOVE this cupcake! Completely thinking outside the box, yet sweet pea makes so much sense! I need to make these soon - bookmarked. Good luck in Dessert Wars!!

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