Chinese New Year is almost upon us, which means we’ll be soon be celebrating the Year of the Horse and I’ll be back at home, enjoying Mum’s cooking and collecting lai see! And what better excuse do I need than CNY, to experiment with a chinese-style cupcake?
I went a bit outside of the box with this one.. I tried to think of chinese food I like to eat and how it could be turned into a cupcake. After much deliberation (read: I asked for Jak’s opinion) and decided to go with a cupcake version of duck pancakes.
Yep. I made a chocolate hoisin cupcake, topped with cucumber frosting and garnished with shredded duck pieces. I know, sounds weird right? If you remember, about a year ago, I made some bacon and maple syrup cupcakes – these were one of my favourites ever and they were delicious, so why not try another savoury flavour?
For the cupcakes, I made a standard chocolate sponge, spooned it into the cases and added in 1/4 teaspoon of hoisin sauce to each case, swirling it round to mix it in. These smell wonderfully weird whilst they’re baking.. you get a whiff of chocolate followed by hoisin. Unfortunately, this didn’t quite translate when it baked, there’s a very strong chocolate flavour (as expected), but the hoisin flavour isn’t quite strong enough. I think 1/2 teaspoon of hoisin sauce might help with a stronger taste.
For the frosting, I decided to try and make cucumber buttercream. It turned out to be a lot more difficult than expected. At first I thought about just chopping up pieces of cucumber and adding it to the butter and icing sugar mix.. but the flavour didn’t really come through. Then, I decided to try and make a cucumber puree (process 60g cucumber and 1tbsp milk, then strain), which worked wonderfully…except again, the flavour wasn’t strong enough.
In the end, I used the cucumber milk puree for the rest of the buttercream and added in the chopped up pieces of cucumber. I’m still not too keen on the overall flavour, the cucumber taste is very faint (even with the added decoration) so this is something I’ll need to try tweaking next time!
To top it all off, I cut up some chunks of cucumber and added shredded duck pieces. It was a shame the hoisin flavour didn’t come through, it tasted a bit like having some chocolate with some cucumber on top!
Well, that was definitely an experiment and a half.. I suppose I could have always done it the other way around – cucumber cupcake with hoisin buttercream. Any volunteers to have a go?!