Thursday, July 11, 2013


 Apricot Cupcake frosted with Apricot Cream Cheese Buttercream, topped with an Almond Dragée
Apricot Cupcake filled with Apricot preserves, frosted with a ring of White Chocolate Ganache and a swirl of Apricot Cream Cheese Buttercream and topped with an Almond Dragée

I often find inspiration from my environment - a feeling or remembrance, the color of a friend's hair, a special occasion or event, what is plentiful in the market, etc.  Apricots are abundant right now making today's cupcakes a natural choice.

Except of course, I've never eaten an Apricot cupcake or seen one offered.  Nor was I quite sure how to manipulate this sweet little tarty fruit.  And then, what flavor pairs with it?  Pretty much I was in over my head metaphorically speaking and that's a pretty good place to be when in the test kitchen.

I started by cooking the split apricots in a wee bit of water (16 apricot halves, 1/3 c. water, 4T granulated sugar).  I pressed it through a 2-cup strainer (because why would I have a sieve?) and wound up with about 1¼ c. apricot purée.

By folding my White Cake recipe in with my Lemon Cake recipe...I landed at my Apricot Layer Cake recipe.  I love its density; by adding almond extract - there is something for the apricot to push against on the palette.  It's a good combination.

Baking went well, for the most part.  As evidenced in this photo, completely integrating the purée into the batter is essential.  If not, the sugar from the fruit will explode from the heat and leave little cupcake craters.  Oh, these taste especially yummy and caramel-y, but don't pass the visual quality control check.

I increased the baking time, but that didn't seem to have an adverse effect on the moist-factor.  This is totally the fun part about being in the test kitchen.  I get to try new stuff - it's like science, but I'm not a science-y person.  And I don't like math, but I'm doing math all the time.  Side note:  baking with American measures and using ingredients weighed in grams... bonus points for me that anything works. 

There was never a doubt I would top each cupcake with a Jeff de Bruges dragée.  We found these last week in Paris.  I've been anxious to use them on a cupcake or cake design since then.  They are simply delicious.

I couldn't commit to adding a center of apricot preserves or not...or the white chocolate ganache.  I tried some of each and believe this is the ideal combination: Apricot cupcake, Apricot preserves center, Apricot Cream Cheese Buttercream.

The white chocolate already has plenty of cream in it and I didn't factor that into my ratio of heated heavy whipping cream to chocolate.  I could have easily used half the cream.  I used 12oz chocolate to 8oz heavy cream.  Next time, I'll try using 4oz of heavy cream and see if the white chocolate sets up.  This time, it oozed over the sides of the cupcakes.


Some bakers like that and consider it to look super appetizing in photographs.  Me?  I think it looks like a sticky mess.  Though, after sitting a bit - the chocolate stopped oozing and firmed up - that's a nice little plus.
I contacted some friends and said, "Come get these!"  And you know what? They did. Whew!

Working with new ingredients, developing new recipes, trying different flavor profiles... that gets me all jazzed up.  I really dig it and I don't think I would have the discipline for staying with a project start to finish (...which includes clean-up) if I hadn't been taught to follow-through on commitments.  In recovery, doing what you say you're gonna do and showing up when you say you're gonna show up - are the fundamental building blocks of getting the work done.

I love all the complimentary colors in this photograph. And yes, that little apricot teacup has a broken handle, but it's my Fiesta Ware, so it's ok to use in a snapshot.

I'm grateful for knowing this.  And I'm grateful for my life partner who understands this about me.


  1. Love Jeff de Bruges. I get the hot chocolate mix from there and always some various candies. Do you keep a gram scale in your kitchen? It's my lifesaver. And I have a little chart that coverts every known kitchen measurement to metric. I couldn't live without it. Your cupcakes have inspired me to eat apricots for breakfast. These are beautiful.

    1. I ABSOLUTELY have a gram/ounce scale and use it almost everyday. I don't have the conversions printed or posted (I tend to use my iPad mini in the kitchen (but it's a great idea). I swear, Jeff de Bruges is completely delicious! Enjoy your apricot breakfast :)