January 22, 2009

Mead (Honey Wine) Chiffon Cupcakes

Yes, it's Iron Cupcake Earth time again. The theme for this month is wine. I knew immediately that I had to do a mead or honey wine flavored cupcake. Back in December, there was an article in Hour Detroit magazine that fascinated me. It was called "Mad About Mead" and featured a meadery called B. Nektar. Based in Ferndale, Michigan, the founding couple started off homebrewing mead and the hobby lead to opening their own meadery. I'm always interested new local products and liked the varieties of flavors they produce. For the Iron Cupcake challenge I made special trip to Champanes, a warehouse sized wine shop in Warren with a real stuffed lion in the entryway (quite the eyebrow raiser).

Of the B. Nektar meads I bought, their award winning Vanilla Cinnamon seemed the most appropriate for flavoring a cupcake. It was quite sweet, like an ice wine or Sauterne, and the honey flavor was very pronounced. I chose to adapt a chiffon cake recipe so that the honey flavors wouldn't be overwhelmed. Then I kept the frosting light as well with a meringue flavored with more mead and sweetened with honey. The cakes on their own would be good for kids because the fermented aspect of the mead flavor dissipates in the baking. All that's left is a wonderful honey fragrance. I think they would be great topped with some fruit puree. The frosting is more suited to adult tastes because you do get the yeasty, winy flavors from the mead. The frosted cupcakes were an ethereal puff of honey sweetness with nuances of fermentation. Thanks Iron Cupcake for encouraging me to play with another new cupcake flavor.

In this recipe I used:
Sleeping Bear Farms Star Thistle Honey
B. Nektar Meadery's "Vanilla Cinnamon (mead) A light colored and semi sweet wine made with whole cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans. The beans are sliced open by hand before being added to the mead to ensure maximum flavor extraction.This mead won a silver medal at the 2007 AHA National Homebrewing Competition."
*If you live in the Detroit area B. Nektar has tastings at their Ferndale meadery on the first Friday of every month, see their website for more information.

Mead Chiffon Cupcakes
Based on Alton Brown's Chiffon Cupcake recipe
Makes less than a full dozen (~9-10 cupcakes)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
a small pinch of cinnamon
2 eggs, separated
5 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
2 tablespoons mead
2 tablespoons neutral oil

-Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and line a cupcake tin with paper liners.
-In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
-Beat together the egg yolks and 4 tablespoons of the sugar until very light yellow, ribbon stage.
-In a very clean bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tarter until frothy. Gradually add the remaining tablespoon of sugar to the egg whites, beating in between each small addition. Continue beating the egg whites until they form shiny, stiff peaks.
-Add the mead and oil to the egg yolk mixture and stir until combined, then add the flour mixture again stirring until combined.
-Stir a third of the beaten egg whites into the egg and flour mixture. Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
-Fill the cupcake papers two thirds of the way full with the batter.
-Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick poked into a cupcake comes out clean.
-Cool and frost.

Honey and Mead Meringue Frosting
Makes enough to lightly frost 10 cupcakes, double the recipe for generous frosting

1 egg white
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons mead
1/4 cup honey

-Beat the egg white, sugar and mead over a simmering double boiler until soft peaks form. *I would strongly suggest using a hand mixer for this.
-Add the honey in small amounts and beat in.
-Continue beating over the heat for at least 7 minutes until the frosting forms strong peaks.
-Remove from heat and beat for another minute to allow the frosting time to cool slightly.
-Spread your desired amount of frosting on a cupcake with a spatula and then tap the frosting lightly while turning to create spiky peaks/curls. Repeat with remaining cupcakes.

This month's voting will begin Thursday, January 29 at 8 p.m. at No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner and ends Wednesday, February 4 at 12 noon.
The January Prize Pack includes prizes from: Dogbone Art, Lots of Sprinkles, Cakespy and Sweet Cuppin Cakes Bakery and Cupcakery Supply.
Prizes also come from these corporate providers:
Head Chefs by Fiesta Products, Hello Cupcake by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, Jessie Steele Aprons, The Cupcake Courier, and Taste of Home Books
Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers and Upwithcupcakes.com