Sunday, April 11, 2010

Masterchef Tribute Cupcakes

Yesterday was the first of what will hopefully be an ongoing event - a Wellington bake-off. The theme was cupcakes, and I was still desperately trying to think up ideas on Wednesday, while I watched Masterchef New Zealand. The challenge this week was to make a complicated dessert, comprising a marquise (like a dense chocolate mousse, sort of), poached rhubarb, raspberry marshmallows, tuile and spun sugar. It was supposed to look like this:

I am quite a fan of chocolate (as you'll already know if you know me or have read my other posts!) and wondered if I could make this as a cupcake. I had specified that a cupcake should consist of cake and icing, so I knew it needed some sort of conversion. So...

I started with a quarter recipe of my basic chocolate cake (recipe here). I put a small amount of mixture in the bottom of some cupcake cases and baked them for about 8 minutes to make a cakey base (but smaller than a normal cupcake). Then I embarked on the marquise. The recipe is at the end of the post, and is from the TVNZ Masterchef site (though I've hopefully made it a bit easier to read!).

Beware, this is a recipe that calls for many bowls. First, melt the chocolate:

Beat up some butter and sugar:

Beat the rest of the sugar with the egg yolks:

Shell and chop some pistachios, grate some orange zest:

Whip up some cream (no photo - you'll have to use your imagination). Are you counting? That's four bowls plus whatever you put the zest and nuts in or on - lucky I have a cupboard full of mixing bowls!

Mix the chocolate with the butter mixture, then fold in the egg yolks:

Fold the zest and pistachios through the mixture:

Then fold the cream in to make a thick, gooey, chocolatey mess:

I then filled the cupcake cases with this mixture, smoothing out the tops, and put them in the fridge to chill. Now the fiddly part: the tuile.

I've never made tuile before and the mixture was really easy, but I didn't have the fancy silicone template they used on the show so had to make do with baking paper. Unfortunately for you it was so fiddly I forgot all about the camera! The recipe calls for the mixture to be divided and cocoa added to half so you can pipe the contrasting dots on, and I decided to make half my tuiles chocolate and half vanilla to make the dish look more interesting. It was a fairly intense activity; I could only make five at a time and they only take 3-4 minutes to cook so you have to stay focussed - and even then some of mine were a little on the dark side and some ended up slightly underdone and floppy. :-( Ah well, it's all about learning, right?

The last step was spinning sugar. I've done a fair bit of sugar melting in the past, but my decorations tend not to be as dainty as the sugar net for this dish was supposed to be. The Masterchef recipe calls for cream of tartar, which I didn't use as I didn't have any on hand, but perhaps this would have helped me achieve a finer net as well.

I imagine the judges would have had a lot of criticism for my dish: the tuiles are not shaped sharply enough; there are the wrong number of dots; the spun sugar is neither neat enough nor fine enough; the marquise did not feature the orange enough; my pistachios were chopped a little too finely; and where is the rhubarb and the marshmallow??? Just as well I'm not on the show! ;-)

Unfortunately our apartment is quite humid and neither the tuiles or the spun sugar were looking super perky by the end of the evening - but most of them had been gobbled by then anyway, and no-one seemed to have any complaints over flavour!

Chocolate, orange, and pistachio marquise cupcakes with chocolate and vanilla tuile and spun sugar
Original recipe by Mathew Metcalfe, adjusted by Mrs Cake
Chocolate cake base
½ cup sugar
½ egg (tricky, yes, but otherwise you’ll have too much cake – though feel free to make double and use the rest for something else!)
½ Tbsp golden syrup (or light treacle)
70g butter
1 cup flour
1.5 Tbsp cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
150ml milk
½ tsp vanilla essence (if you use real vanilla extract you’ll want to reduce this quantity)
½ tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 180 C. Cream butter, sugar, golden syrup and eggs together.

Add flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix.

Warm milk, vanilla essence and baking soda, and then gradually beat into the rest of the mix.

Divide into 24 cupcake papers. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until they spring back when pressed.


300g 70% dark chocolate
150g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
6 egg yolks
1 orange, zest
1/2 cup roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
6 Tbs cocoa powder
300mls double cream
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, reduce to a simmer and melt chocolate. Take off heat and leave to cool a little.

Beat the butter and half the sugar in another large bowl until light and creamy, then beat in the cocoa powder.

Beat the egg yolks and remaining sugar in a third bowl until pale and creamy.
In a fourth bowl, whip the cream until thickened with soft peaks.

Pour the melted chocolate into the butter mixture and carefully stir through until it is well combined. Gently fold in the egg mixture, add the orange zest and pistachios and combine, then stir in the whipped cream.
Spoon onto the cooled cupcake bases, filling the cases. Smooth the tops then chill.


100g plain flour
100g icing sugar
100g egg white, room temperature
100g unsalted butter, room temperature
2 Tbs valrhona cocoa

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Sift together the flour and icing sugar, then put in food processor with butter and blend to fine crumb consistency.
Add the egg whites and beat to a smooth paste.
Divide the mixture into 2 separate bowls and whisk cocoa into one bowl.

If you don’t have a proper template, cut shapes out of baking paper – I cut triangles and laid them on my baking sheet. Using a pallet knife, scoop out a little of the vanilla batter and spatula over the template onto a prepared baking silicone sheet. Lift the template away.
Spoon the chocolate batter into a piping bag and pipe dots down the tuile. Place in the oven and bake for 3-4 minutes or until light golden. Repeat, alternating the order of the mixture, until you have enough or the mixture is gone.

Remove from the oven and immediately remove from the tray with a spatula, shape immediately by draping carefully over a rolling pin, or leave to cool if you prefer.

Spun sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup caster sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Put water in a saucepan over a medium heat. Mix the sugar and cream of tartar together in a bowl and pour the mixture carefully in a thin stream into the centre of the pan to form a low mound. Without stirring, use your fingers to pat the sugar mound down until it is entirely moistened, any sugar at the edges of the pan will be safely below the water line.

Cover the pan and cook for a few minutes without stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved and the syrup looks clear. Uncover the pan and continue to cook, without stirring until the syrup begins to colour slightly.

Use a skewer to drop a bead of syrup onto an upturned white saucer, and when it is pale amber in colour, turn the heat to low and pay close attention. Continue to cook and test drops until it has darkened to a slightly reddish amber colour.

Immediately remove the pan from the heat and let the caramel cool and thicken for a minute or two. Lay greaseproof paper on the bench.

Dip the tip of a spoon in the caramel and lift 12 inches above the pan, watching how the caramel flows from the spoon back into the pan. At first the caramel will form very fine threads, but as it cools it will flow more slowly and form thicker golden threads.

When this happens, coat the spoon with a thickish amount and then wave it over the greaseproof paper in alternate directions to form desired pattern. Use a knife to cut to shape.

Cut a slit in each cupcake to insert the tuile into. Carefully ease the tuile in, as they are fragile. Place pieces of spun sugar on the cupcake as desired, then serve.


  1. I think your versions look delightfully Dr Seuss.
    Sorry I missed it :D

  2. Thanks! I'll put the other photos up tomorrow - and there'll be another one probably in about a month so I'll make sure you're in the loop for that too - I'm thinking setting up a Google group is the way to go. :-)

  3. Well done! It all looks gorgeous.

  4. Thanks Dianne! It was a good challenge - but obviously need to refine some of my skills a bit!


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