Tuesday, February 3, 2009
I think green is my favorite color. I "think" because it kind of depends on what mood I'm in too, like when I want fun shoes or in choosing my stand mixer, I like red, or when I want a bright top, I sometimes like orange, but only if I'm wearing it with jeans, otherwise pink sometimes does the trick. And then there are M&Ms. I don't eat them often, but if I have them, usually they're in my trail mix and I only eat the green ones, but if I'm in the mood for more chocolate, I'll eat the orange ones, too. Green seems to be the color I always come back to. The color just speaks fresh, calm, and clean.
These days, or maybe it's always been the case, green also represents the color of environmental responsibility. I have some friends, a couple, who decided to take steps beyond putting plastic bottles in recycling bins, and started their own compost in their backyard. It was the first time I'd known someone personally to do something like that. Sometimes I think that what little I do won't make a difference, but they showed me that even if there is only the hope that every little thing can count, and if we can do something, then why not?
I helped throw a baby shower for these friends this past weekend, and how appropriately, though probably not intentionally, they chose the baby shower theme color to be a moss green. Since I was baking cupcakes for the shower, I was trying to think of a flavor that would work with the color, so I came up with lime cupcakes! Kiwi just didn't seem right, but lime was more feasible. I don't see lime as a cake or cupcake flavor very often, or at all, but if lemon is a popular flavor, then why not lime? Using a recipe for yellow cupcakes from The New Best Recipe, which has great recipes for every course of a meal, I added lime zest and lime juice, and they turned out wonderful! And for the frosting, instead of the cream cheese frosting which is often used on lemon cupcakes, I wanted a fluffier and softer texture, so I made a lime curd and mixed it with whipped cream. I have extra frosting in my freezer now, which tastes amazing on its own, like a mousse!
I can't claim that these cupcakes are environmentally friendly, but when you read the instructions on how to make the cupcake portion, you'll see that you don't waste much effort. The cupcakes come out pretty close to perfect even if all you do is throw all the ingredients together in the bowl and mix! Unfortunately, when I made these for the shower, I forgot to add the baking powder for half of them, so they didn't rise and were dense! It was late, and I served them anyway, and some guests thought they were meant to be like that!
Adapted from The New Best Recipe
Makes about one dozen
1 stick or 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, plus 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1/2 t. vanilla
The zest and juice of one regular lime (not key limes, which are small; if using key limes, use 2 or 3)
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees, and line the cupcake pan with liners.
Cream the butter in a bowl using a mixer on low to medium speed. Once light and fluffy, add all other ingredients and mix together until combined and smooth.
If this last step seems too risky, cream the butter with the sugar, then combine all the wet ingredients (buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, lime juice and zest) and mix together. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt), then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until the batter is smooth.
Divide the batter equally among the cupcake wells in the cupcake pan, and bake on the middle rack for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then cool the cupcakes on a cooling rack.
Lime Curd Whipped Cream Frosting
Adapted from epicurious.com
For the lime curd:
3 large eggs
1/2 cup of sugar
the zest and juice of 2 regular limes (about 1/4 cup of juice)
3/4 stick of butter, cubed
For the whipped cream:
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
green food coloring (optional)
In a saucepan whisk the eggs, sugar, lime juice and lime zest together. Over low heat, add the butter and continue to whisk the mixture. Continue doing so until it thickens and begins to bubble. You can increase the heat gradually if the mixture does not thicken. Once you can see whisk marks in the curd, remove the saucepan from heat and pour the curd through a sieve if it's a little lumpy. Allow the curd to cool and refrigerate the curd in a covered container until chilled (I did this overnight).
When ready to make the frosting, beat the heavy cream and powdered sugar with the whisk attachment on high until stiff peaks form. Add a little green food coloring just enough to tint the frosting (a couple of drops if using liquid), and fold in about 1/4 cup of the lime curd, then add another 1/4 cup (you'll have leftover lime curd). Chill the frosting to allow it to set. Frost the cooled cupcakes with a spatula or piping bag.