Iron Cupcake: Earth - Hearts for Haiti Challenge

This post is a doozy but please read all of it!

Here's a summary: On May 6th I participated in my work's Spring Craft Fair and sold cupcakes as part of a fundraiser for Haiti relief. The challenge was to either integrate Haitian flavors or the official cupcake design into the cakes - I did both. The cake was caramelized plantain, the filling was mango curd, and the frosting was papaya buttercream (recipes at bottom). I did a spin off of the official design (compare, below). The bakesale was a HUUUGE success and I had lots of people donate money to the cause even if they weren't in a cupcake mood. In addition to a personal donation, I donated half of the cupcake money to the American Red Cross and the other half to Yele Haiti. Please, if you are reading this, vote for my Hearts for Haiti cupcake to win the challenge that Iron Cupcake: Earth is hosting! (I'll link to it soon!)

BACKGROUND: About two months ago I came across a cupcake website called Iron Cupcake Milwaukee (IC:M) via one of Cupcakes Take The Cake's blog posts. After instantly adding the IC:M url to my Google Reader, I started skimming through posts figuring out what this whole "Iron Cupcake" thing was about. Legend has it that Sandy Ploy, blogger of No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner, and her pal Jeff Reinke held a bake-off in April 2008 centered around Wasabi ...in cupcakes.

Story time: This past winter I went with four friends to a sushi/sake bomb place in Palo Alto, CA and a friend dared me to eat the blob of wasabi for $20. Does this guy realize who he is dealing with? I gobbled up that goober so fast, ripped the twenty bucks out of his hands, and cackled into the wind. Wasabi's got nothin' on me.

Back to cupcakes... Since April of '08, dozens of Iron Cupcake challenges have occurred in the Milwaukee area. That's great and all, but what about us lonely non-Milwaukee, still-love-challenges kinda folk? Well Sandy figured that out too: Iron Cupcake Earth (IC:E). It is described as: "The ultimate in world-wide bake offs. Once a month, a challenge flavor or ingredient is announced. Bloggers develop their own recipe, photograph them as they are being created and post their findings on their own personal blogs... The entire blogosphere is then asked to vote for the cupcake which best represents the challenge ingredient."

For this month's challenge, a Hearts for Haiti cupcake fundraiser, I join over 500 bakers from 23 different countries! The thing is - it is actually a THREE MONTH challenge! IC:E partnered up with the ballerzzz of the cupcake decorating world - Karen Tack and Alan Richardson of the famous Hello, Cupcake! I joined IC:E by sending my name, city, state, country, and blog address through email to the folks running it all. Super! I'm now a part of this challenge! The thing is, when can I hold a cupcake fundraiser with my 9 to 5 job? Days later, my work sends out an email inviting people to sell items at the annual Craft Fair! Perfect!! To make it even better, the Craft Fair is scheduled to be two weeks before the deadline of entry submittals!

As part of the Hearts for Haiti challenge, I had to go to Hello, Cupcake!'s website and download the cupcake decorating instructions. Each challenger was given the option to integrate Haitian flavors and/or the Hearts for Haiti cupcake design into the cupcakes. I did quite a bit of research on Haitian crops and their best exports. My final cupcake: carmelized plantains cake, mango curd filling, with a papaya buttercream frosting. That's Haiti in a nutshell cupcakeshell. I tried to generate a lot of buzz before the craft fair, letting people know that I was doing a fundraiser to raise money for two Haiti relief organizations: The American Red Cross and Yele Haiti.

After the event I added some photos from the event to IC:E's flickr pool. When you go check them out, take a look at all of the other amazing cupcake challenge photos. I could stare at cupcake photos all day long... does that mean I have a problem? Eek! I also donated my earnings - half to the American Red Cross and half to Yele Haiti. Both organizations are fantastic. If you get the chance please visit their websites and, if you can, give a donation.

Iron Cupcake: Earth offers great prizes to the winner of the challenge. The prize providers and sponsors include Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson, Bella Cupcake Coture (GORGEOUS chic cupcake liners!!), Cupcake Stackers by Gourmac, The Cake Mix Doctor Returns! by Anne Byrne, Beautiful Baking Liners by Vestli House (love their baking cups - also go check out the website just to look at the amazingly decorated cupcakes IN the amazingly decorated baking cups), and Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Bakery & Cupcakery Supply (so many products, love the multi-color foil liners).

Part I - Carmelized Plantain Cake:

For the caramelized mashed plantains:
2 T butter, melted
3 T brown sugar
1/2 t ground cinnamon
3 reallllyyyy ripe plantains (brown/black peels), peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

For the batter:
1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 C butter, softened
3/4 C plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 C buttermilk
1/2 t vanilla extract
2 cups caramelized mashed plantains

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Take your sliced plantains and put them in a baking dish (I used a loaf pan). Mix the melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon together and pour the mixture over the sliced plantains. Make sure each plantain is thoroughly coated in the sugary syrup. Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and then go to town mashing the plantains. Approximate yield: 2 cups (you'll use all in the recipe).

Lower the oven heat to 350 degrees. Sift the following dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In your stand mixer's bowl, mix the softened butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the sides of bowl if necessary. Mix the "wet" ingredients into the batter: buttermilk, vanilla extract, and mashed caramelized plantains. Once the batter is smooth, carefully/slowly add the dry ingredients. (Scrape the bowl if you need to - which you will!)

As always, spoon the cupcake batter into a cupcake tin with liners. Fill each cup 3/4 full. Bake between 20 to 25 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool completely before doing anything fancy with them.

Part II - Mango Curd:

1 normal/hefty mango. Needs to be 1. ripe, 2. peeled, 3. pitted, 4. chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 C sugar
Juice from 1 freshly squeezed lemon and 1 freshly squeezed clementine
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (I was bored so I cut mine into these teensy-tiny cubes!)

After you've peeled, pitted, and chopped your mango, drop it into the food processor with the sugar. Puree the two, scrape down the sides of the food processer bowl, and squeeze the lemon/clementine juice in after pureeing for a few seconds. Add the egg yolks - puree for 15 seconds-ish. Strain the contents of the food processor bowl through a sieve (I used my sifter!) into a large metal bowl. If you need to (I did), press the mango goo through the sieve holes with the back of your rubber spatula. Throw out whatever remains in the sieve. Take the metal bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure that the bottom of the metal bowl isn't touching any water. Take a wire whisk and whisk the puree until it gets really thick and a candy thermometer reaches 170°F. This took me about 12 minutes. Your mixture should be curd like! When the proper temperature is reached, take the bowl off of the simmering water pot and whisk in the butter chunks piece by piece. Put the curd into a tupperware container (covered) and then refrigerate it for at least four hours. I refrigerated over night (best choice - just to be safe). In total, it should make just about two cups.

Part III - Papaya Buttercream:

1 normal/hefty papaya. Needs to be 1. ripe, 2. cut in half, 3. seeds removed, 4. chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 C water
1/4 C sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/3 C papaya syrup mixture
1/4 C milk
1 lb. confectioner's sugar

After you've chopped open your ripe papaya and scooped out the seeds, put the chunks into your food processer. Process it until it is liquid-y. Spoon the papaya into a saucepan and add the water and sugar. Stir the mixture constantly until it starts to bowl. Set the papaya syrup mixture aside and let it cool. Beat the butter until it is pale and fluffy. Add the papaya syrup mixture, milk, and salt to the butter bowl. Beat everything until it is well combined. Add the confectioner's sugar 1/2 cup at a time, scrape down the sides of bowl when necessary, and mix on medium-high speed after each addition. This makes more than enough frosting, but I didn't feel like halving the recipe. The papaya naturally sweetens it up.... it's yummy!

1 comment:

  1. So impressed Lauren! Once I figure out how... I am going to reblog this on my tumblr. muah miss you! xxoo