Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Juniper Rose Cupcakes

Few things in my life right now excite me quite like good food and good people. Except maybe good people who will talk with me about good food. So when my sister told me about a lovely new spice shop that opened in Brookside, Season and Square, I knew I needed to venture and drag my roommate, Olivia, with me. Not surprisingly, we spent an hour chatting with the owner, a delightful and inspiring woman. 

She introduced us to Dram Apothecary, a company that forages their own herbs/flora to concoct bitters and simple syrups that are earthy and ingenious. Not to mention that their lives are about traveling and picking flowers in order to make cocktails, I'm jealously swooning. My mother had passed along half a bottle of their Juniper Rose simple she had picked up on her own trip to Season. Her exhortation being to bake with it and tell her what to do. 

Discussing with my libation-savvy friend Andrew what would be a good companion for my new acquisition. We settled on cucumber, playing off the cocktail concept, and thus these cupcakes were born. They're different, really light and refreshing as opposed to being extremely sweet, which is how I prefer my pastry. However, I know my brother would be bewildered if I attempted to offer him something so obscure, to put it kindly. 

Juniper Rose Cupcakes with Cucumber Buttercream

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
12 tbsp unsalted butter (I am ardently against margarine ps....use the real stuff), room temp
1 1/4 cups white cane sugar
3 large eggs, room temp
1/4 cup Dram's Juniper Rose simple
1/4 cup gin 
1 cup tonic water (mine was flat, so I used Grapefruit La Croix, it worked splendid)
1/2 tsp rose extract (I tried 1 1/2, but it was a little too floral) 

Cucumber Buttercream
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
4-6 cups confectioners sugar 
1/3 cucumber puréed 
1/2 lime 

For the cake: 
-Preheat oven to the good ole 350
-Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and stir
-In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar
-Add one egg at a time, letting it come together before adding the next 
-Add in the simple, gin and rose extract 
-Be a good baker and add half the dry, followed by half the tonic, then the other halves, letting it blend in between.. I, however, am impatient and added it all at once. Don't do that.
-Fill 24 cupcake liners about 2/3 full and pop in the oven for 18 minutes
-Turn on US Youth Olympics while they bake 

For the buttercream:
-Puree the cucumber in a food processor or blender
-Combine butter and confectioners sugar to mixer and cream
-Slowly add cucumber purée to the mixture letting it blend
-Add more confectioners sugar as you see fit to get desired texture
-Zest and juice the lime and add to mixer

This buttercream was the bane of my existence. I went through and amalgama of cucumber, minced, juiced, simple syruped, before landing on purée as the best texture and flavor. If there is one thing I am well versed in at the moment, it's the different consistencies a cucumber can take on. For those who interacted with me on Sunday, I apologize, I don't normally smell like Larry the Cucmber's estranged cousin. 

I imagine these would be the most fitting at a tea or garden party, but in true fashion, I plopped down on the floor in my living room with a cup of coffee and downed it. I have no shame when it comes to pastry. 

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