Monday, March 23, 2009

ICE Challenge: Nuts and Seeds

It was almost spring for two days over the weekend. Now it's snowing. It's time for some serious sunshine. Here's my winter-needs-to-be-over-poem for you to enjoy (and mock, feel free)...

Skirts and grass, you know my love
Strong with courage
it's easier to dream in the sun.
Pink and brown lead to green
and green
With some rain, not cold
Eat better, sleep better, run better, run faster
Then pause, and live.
I smell your sweet lilac breath
Wishing for those library days of yesterday
Wishing for those stargazing evenings of tomorrow
Dreams are easier in the sun
Life is dreams in the sun.
Dreams are life in the sun.

I'm finally doing the Iron Cupcake Challenge again this month. This month is nuts and grains. I've always wanted to incorporate more healthy desserts into my menu, and while this isn't "healthy" by any stretch of the imagination, there are some healthy components, so it's not all guilt! The cake is a yellow cake with polenta and quinoa. I've mentioned polenta before, but chances are you haven't heard of quinoa. It's seems to be a a food that only vegetarians/vegans know about. It's a South American (pseudo)grain that is high in complete proteins. It's one of the best foods you can eat if you don't eat meat. Unfortunately, it's also gross. Not just bland, the flavor is really unappealing. BUT, put with other foods so the flavor is covered up it's really good. It has an unusual crunchy texture that I really enjoy given other flavors are involved. So I threw a handfull of quinoa in the batter, and suddenly you have a protein rich cake!
The mousse is only slightly nutmeg flavored, and the overall flavor of the cake is pretty gentle. A nice light dessert, you definitely won't feel overwhelmed (or incredibly guilty!) eating one.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup polenta
1/4 cup cooked quinoa
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temp
2/3 cup whole milk, at room temp
6 T butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a large roll pan and cover with parchment paper, spray again. Or prepare as for regular cupcakes.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, polenta, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat butter and sugur until light and fluffy. Whisk in eggs, milk and vanilla. Add egg mixture to flour mixture all at once. Stir until just combined. Add the cooked quinoa.

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread out thin. Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean and the cake is browned. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Cut out circles the size of your finished cakes.

Nutmeg Mousse

160g heavy cream
160g whole milk
2 whole nutmegs
4 medium-sized egg yolks
80g granulated sugar
25g cornstarch, sifted
2 tsp powdered gelatin
240g whipping cream

Pour the milk and first part of the cream into a saucepan. Add the nutmegs. Heat to boiling, then turn the heat off, cover and let infuse for at least 30 minutes. Then remove the nutmegs. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until white, thick and fluffy. Add the cornstarch, beating carefully to ensure that there are no lumps. While whisking vigorously, pour some of the milk into the yolk mixture to temper it. Put infused milk back on the stove on medium heat. Pour yolk mixture back into the milk while whisking vigorously. Keep whisking vigorously until mixture thickens considerably. I've seen that you are supposed to cook it until it coats the back of a spoon, and if you run your finger through the layer on the spoon the line stays. If your cream curdles a bit, just whisk it and then strain. Add the gelatin and let it melt completely. Let cool. Beat the second part of the whipping cream and fold into the cooled egg yolk cream. Let set up a bit (~ 1 hour).

(I used cupcake molds with removable bottoms.)

Cut out parchment paper to line the sides of the molds. Place one cut out piece of cake in the bottom. Spoon mousse on top. Place on more layer of cake, and then spoon one more layer of mousse. Let set up in the fridge at least 2 hours. Optional: roll the top edge of the mousse in finely chopped pecans, and decorate with a flower (I used primroses).

Our March ETSY PRIZE-PACK is from artists:
Last and certainly not least, don’t forget our corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS,, HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson,, JESSIE STEELE APRONS; TASTE OF HOME books,; a t-shirt from UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers, . And as a special thank you, we would like to once again thank DIANAEVANS - for her participation in the February challenge. An incorrect link was posted and we want to be sure that she gets the recognition she deserves. Thanks again Diana!


Hilary said...

Wow . . . that looks awesome!

apparentlyjessy said...

Wow! They are beautiful, and what a very interesting grain choice! I think you did a good job on the poem too! :)

Michelle Grace said...

Thanks so much for visiting my blog today. I totally agree with you vintage items represent so much more than one would think.
I love your cupcakes, too! They are so beautiful!

Talina said...

Those look great! And I want winter to be over too. It just doesn't seem right that I got a sunburn on Saturday and had to clean the snow off my car on Monday.

Nik "the BoyWonder" said...

that looks so are amazing!

Lena said...

Those look amazing. So tasty! I am so jealous. You can bake, and I can't even attempt. Some day you should make them for me :)!

Also, I have a friend that said she wanted some macrons, and mentioned monetary reimbursment.

Anonymous said...

OMG, so creative and gorgeous! I was going to enter this month, but things just piled up :( In any event, hope you win - I love quinoa, and that nutmeg mousse sounds dreamy :)

Alison said...

I completely spaced the challenge this month, but I that's no problem, because these are absolutely beautiful! You are a woman after my own least when it comes to decorating cupcakes (and you got my vote)!

P.s. Have you checked out amaranth flour? Not a complete protein, but it is super high in iron and also has some calcium. I've been adding in a 1/2 cup here and there to various baking projects and it works perfectly!