Thursday, August 28, 2008

Santorini Sensation Cupcakes

closeup of cupcake

[skip to cupcake recipe]
[skip to roasted garlic recipe]

When A. and I were on our honeymoon in Greece, one of our goals was to eat as many different types of food as possible. There was one dish, though, that we had to order twice at the same restaurant, because it was so unique and delicious. It was called the Santorini Sensation, and it was a block of manouri cheese topped with honey, sesame seeds, garlic and hot pepper.

Santorini Sensation

The first time we had it, we were kind of surprised at how good it was, but then the second time, A. dubbed it "General Tso's cheese". Although it was missing the soy sauce flavor, it definitely had a lot in common with General Tso's -- spicy, sweet, and aromatic. We really loved it!

When I got back from the trip, I stumbled across Iron Cupcake:Earth's first challenge... chile pepper cupcakes! I remembered the Santorini Sensation, and I knew I would have to enter.

Iron Cupcake:Earth is a new cupcake contest that has some awesome prize donors!
ETSY artist CAKESPY - super talented artist
Jessie Steele Aprons - adorable aprons
Cupcake Courier - cute cupcake transport
Taste of Home - food magazine publisher
Fiesta Products - unique kitchen tools
Hello, Cupcake! - great cupcake decorating book

I already have a Cupcake Courier (wedding present!), and I can tell you that it is pretty great!

cupcake courier

So, faced with all of these tantalizing prizes, I got down to work. I don't know all that much about chiles, so decided to see what the store had to offer. I ended up picking up some ancho chile powder. As I discovered, this mild dried pepper has a smoky flavor and might not have been quite what I was looking for... but I forged ahead with the recipe anyway ;)

powdered chile

They actually ended up tasting very yummy! I ran with the flavor of the ancho chile and made a fluffy spice cake with a slightly sweet, spicy and garlicky frosting. Definitely not your everyday cupcake, but good for the more adventurous palate ;)

cupcake with sesame seeds in the background

[ recipe ]
Santorini Sensation Cupcakes
makes 15 cupcakes with a #16 disher

Cake batter:
110g cake flour
90g all-purpose flour
100g sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 t ancho chile powder
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 stick butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
180g honey
2 eggs
1/2 c milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line your muffin tins with cupcake liners. (I used red liners from Confectionery House.)

Combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, chile powder, cloves and cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on to a low speed to combine the dry ingredients.

Add the butter and mix on low just to coat.

Whisk together the eggs, honey and milk in a separate bowl. Turn the mixer on to medium speed and add in three separate batches, adding the next batch as soon as the previous one is incorporated. Try not to overmix.

empty bowl of batter

Divide the batter among the cupcake liners and fill around 2/3 full (I got 15 cupcakes using a #16 disher.)

Bake for 18-20 minutes, and test for doneness with a toothpick.

baked cupcakes

1 stick butter
16 oz (450 g) confectioners' sugar
4 T heavy cream
chile paste (1 T chile powder mixed with 1 T water)
1 T sesame seeds
1 t roasted garlic (around 2 cloves -- recipe below)

Mash the sesame seeds and garlic to a paste (I used a small mortar and pestle).

sesame seeds in mortar and pestle

Beat the butter in a stand mixer at medium speed for about 5 minutes. Turn the mixer down to low and slowly add in the sugar (it will probably be pretty dry after it is all in).

Turn the mixer back to medium and add in the cream a tablespoon at a time until you reach the consistency you want. Then, add in the chile, sesame and garlic pastes and beat to combine.

three flavors

Pipe or spread the frosting on the cupcakes and decorate with black sesame seeds.
[ end of recipe ]

I wanted to use roasted garlic in the frosting because it takes the bite out of the garlic flavor and caramelizes it, but still retains the garlicky awesomeness. There are so many ways to use this stuff, it is pretty amazing. My favorite is to spread it on warm toasted pita chips with a little salt, which is what we did with the extra :)

roasted garlic

[ recipe ]
Roasted Garlic

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a whole head of garlic and cut off the top (pointy end) to expose the insides of the cloves. Place the head on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle it with olive oil, making sure the oil covers each of the cloves (you can use your fingers to spread it around).

Wrap the foil around the clove and pinch the top so it is completely covered. Do this for each head that you want to roast. You can bake the foil pouches on a sheet pan, or put them in a cupcake tin to keep the garlic upright during baking.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the cloves are soft and browned. Let them cool for a while until you can stand to handle them, and squeeze out the pulp of all of the cloves. Eat immediately, or put in a ramekin and cover with olive oil to keep for a day or two in the fridge.

Notes on storing garlic here.

References: the recipes found here (with helpful pics) and here.
[ end of recipe ]

In all, even though it wasn't a traditional cupcake flavor, it tasted great! Check out the blogroll on Iron Cupcake:Earth to see all of the other creative entries. If you like my cupcake, you can vote for it starting on August 31st at the No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner blog!


Lisa said...

Your photography is gorgeous, and your cupcakes look amazing! I just remembered, roasted garlic tends to taste almost like candy, so I can see how it would work well in the frosting! Very inspiring :)

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

That's one of the things I love most about traveling - you have the opportunity to try a variety of different cuisines. Yum! :0)

Speaking of yum, those cupcakes look so enticing!! Perfect for Iron Cupcake.

CB said...

Mmmm... cupcakes and your photography are a winning combination in my book! Great job!

Maggie said...

Beautiful looking cupcakes! The nuttiness of the sesame seeds sounds good with the other ingredients in the cupcake and frosting.

Jaime said...

wow, those look stunning! i've always wanted to travel to greece

Anonymous said...

What a brilliant interpretation of your vacation dish. The garlic in the frosting is very intriguing. I don't think I would have come up with that, but now I am so curious I’ll have to give it a try.

Post a Comment