Celebration cupcakes

Thursday, August 22, 2013

You probably have noticed our absence on the blog lately.  The past few months have been a whirlwind for us, moving to a new place, traveling and spending time with our loved ones who have fallen ill, while preparing for a new addition to our family.  Yes, we are EXPECTING a little one.  It came as a wonderful surprise for both of us.  

We had been trying for a while with no success.  Fear.  Disappointment. Frustration. Sadness.  Those feelings overwhelmed me as many months passed and my body would not cooperate.  We were ready to see a specialist when it happened.  

I selfishly kept the news to myself for a few days, grinning from ear to ear as I went about my daily routine and thought about the new life growing in my belly.  Millions of thoughts raced through my head.  Every fiber of my being resonated with joy.  

After a few days, I could no longer contain my excitement and broke the news to Vu.  He was ecstatic.  The perfect present for his birthday.  Celebration was in order.  For this occasion, I made vanilla cupcakes with a mixed berry compote and marshmallow frosting. 

It took me three attempts to get the batter right but I finally found the perfect recipe.  You can make a cake in place of cupcakes if you want to something special for your own celebration.  

These cupcakes were perfect for our celebration of this new life growing inside my belly. 

Vanilla cupcakes with berry compote and marshmallow frosting

Vanilla cupcake (adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)

1 1/2 cup cake flour (not self-raising)
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 1/2 stick of butter, at room temp
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of milk
3 large egg whites
2 tbsps sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside. 
2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt then set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 3/4 cup of sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Mix in the vanilla.
4. With the mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with flour.  Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
5. In the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy.
6. With the mixer running, slowly add in 2 tablespoons of sugar, beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 3-4 minutes.
7. Gently fold in half of the egg-white mixture into the flour mixture until combined.  Gently fold in the remaining egg-white mixture.
8. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. 
9. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes.
10. Transfer pans to a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool completely.
11. Once cooled, use a small spoon and scoop out a small hole in the center of each cupcake, creating a cavity.

Berry compote (original recipe)

1 cup blackberries
1 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup of sugar

1. In medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the berries and sugar to a boil, stirring constantly until thick. 
2. Remove from the heat and chill until cold.
3. If you don't have berries readily available, you can use seedless or strained berry preserves.

Marshmallow Frosting (adapted from Meringue)

2 large egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
4 tbsps water
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a stainless steel mixer bowl, whisk together egg whites, sugar, water, cream of tartar, and salt. 
2. Gently lower the bowl over a simmering pot of water and immediately begin beating with an electric hand beater.  Do not leave the egg white mixture unattended or stop beating any time during this process.
3. After about 3 minutes, remove the bowl from the heat.
4. Attach the bowl to the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg-white mixture on high speed for 5 minutes.  It should look like marshmallow fluffiness. 
6. Remove the bowl and fold in the vanilla extract. Set the frosting aside and allow the mixture to cool. 


1. Place the cupcakes on a flat surface.
2. Fill each cavity of the cupcake with 1 teaspoon of berry compote.
3. Add the marshmallow frosting to a pastry bag and generously frost each cupcake.
4. Using a hand blow torch, lightly torch the marshmallow frosting to your liking.