Yesterday was one of those days when it seemed like it was never going to stop raining, so I knew I wanted to make something that would be the exact opposite of a gloomy grey February day. Now, I don't know if you've noticed, but over the last year or so, I've developed a love for pink - and pink is DEFINITELY the opposite of grey and gloomy.
I searched through my pantry to see what I had on hand that could be turned into something special - and here's what I came up with.
Pink Peppercorn Cupcakes topped with Pink Vanilla Bean Buttercream
I thought Pink Peppercorns would add a really interesting flavour to a basic vanilla cupcake recipe. You see, Pink Peppercorns aren't peppercorns at all - they're actually the dried berries of a bush called Baies Rose. They have a light peppery taste that borders on sweet with a hint of rose (sometimes, Sean will roll the edges of beef tenderloins in crushed Pink Peppercorns before grilling - this is a fantastic addition of flavour to a steak that you should try if you haven't). I thought, 'Why not try them with something sweet?'.
I've never actually baked cupcakes before (which a few of my friends found surprising) so of course I turned to the Queen of Baking, Ms. Martha Stewart for a basic Vanilla Cupcake Recipe:
- Whisk 3 Cups Flour, 1.5 tsp Baking Powder and 3/4 tsp Salt together in a large bowl
- Cream 12 Tbsp (1.5 sticks) room temp Butter with 1.5 Cups Sugar 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy
- Add 4 eggs - one at a time until well mixed
- Add 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- Need 1.25 Cup Milk
- To Butter, Sugar, Egg mixture - Add flour, milk, flour, milk, slowly until both are gone - beginning and ending with flour
- Add 2 Tbsp Pink Peppercorns (I smashed mine in a Ziploc Baggie with a rolling pin)
- Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until tops spring back
The cupcakes were super easy and VERY tasty. I also used Martha's Vanilla Bean Buttercream Recipe - I added 2 drops of red food colouring to give a warm pink glow:
- Beat 2 Cups room temp Unsalted Butter until creamy
- Slowly add 3.5 Cups Icing Sugar
- Add pinch of Salt, 1 Vanilla Bean, scraped and 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- Slowly add 0.25 Cups Milk then food colouring - continue on med/low speed until smooth and creamy
Ok so here's the thing. Decorating cupcakes is harder than I thought it would be!! Here's a pic of the rest of the batch so you can see more of my attempts. The Buttercream was light and subtle and tasted like it was fresh from a professional bakery however, I decided next time I bake cupcakes, I'm going to make Frosting a la Ms. Betty Crocker instead. I LOVE frosting!!
If you love cupcakes then DEFINITELY use the recipe I've posted - you could swap out the Pink Peppercorns - lemon, lime or orange zest would be wonderful - or, you could leave the recipe as is, straight-up Vanilla and then go for flavour with your icing.
Thank goodness for pretty pink cupcakes in the middle of February.