I had a strange dream last night. I usually do, vivid dreams that are almost more movie than imagination. Part of last night’s entertainment was, a kid visited me at my house and wanted to make vanilla cupcakes with chocolate meringue filling in a heart shape. Always up for a baking challenge, I attempted it–only to make a silly rookie mistake with the meringue and fail.
I woke up full of purpose, ready to redeem myself by excelling in reality. The vanilla cupcakes came out amazingly, the recipe’s definitely a keeper. The first batch of meringue…less so. But that was 100% because of a faulty recipe. It called for 1/16th the required amount of cream of tartar. I hate that. But it tasted good at least! Undaunted, I googled around and more or less came up with my own approximation of a recipe. And it turned out great! I filled the cupcakes, stuck the failed meringue in the freezer (hey…it tasted like chocolate popsicles, maybe it’ll turn out like a chocolate sorbet?), and the unused successful meringue got turned into cookies. All in all, a very successful day of baking. And if there’s a kid out there that dreamed of meringue cupcakes–this one’s for you!
Perfect vanilla cupcakes
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup milk, at room temperature, separated into 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup
2 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted (I used a conversion, 1 cup of cake flour = 3/4 cup all purpose flour plus 2 tbsp cornstarch)
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
12 tbsp unsalted butter (3 sticks), at room temperature and cut into cubes
Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes
Preheat your oven to 350 F and line your cupcake pan with cute liners.
In a medium bowl, combine the egg whites, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla. Grab your stand mixer and stir together the flour (or substitute), sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl. Add the butter and remaining milk and mix together on medium til well combined, about a minute and a half. Add the egg mixture in three batches, scraping down the mixer bowl and mixing until just combined. Scoop your batter into your baking cups and bake 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake! This is a delicate recipe.
6 egg whites
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
In the wiped-down clean bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar, and whip on medium-high til the egg whites begin to build. In a separate medium bowl, mix the sugar and cocoa powder together, then add it to the egg whites in three batches, continuing to whip, scraping down the sides between additions, and mixing until completely combined. Let the meringue build to stiff fluffy peaks, then use to fill cupcakes. Take a heart-shaped (or any shape, really!) cookie or fondant cutter and make a well in the top of the cupcake, then fill liberally with meringue.
Leftover meringue can be spooned onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and baked for roughly an hour at 200 F to make meringue cookies!