Once upon a time I was really into baking cupcakes.
OK, it was borderline obsessive. Almost every week I was creating a new pairing of flavors and would pawn these cupcakes off on my friends, family, coworkers...really anyone that was willing to eat a cupcake. I definitely had a reputation of being "the cupcake girl". However, this was a few years ago, before I really understood nutrition like I do now and the direct effect it had on my health and how I functioned. Once I started educating myself on proper nutrition and the importance of high quality of ingredients, my cupcakes comprised of all-purpose flour, refined sugar and artificial coloring were the first to go. While I love baking, I gave it a break for quite some time.
While reorganizing my baking ingredients and accessories Saturday I suddenly had the urge to bake again. I was reminded that I had these fantastic vintage fluted baking molds that my mom sent me. I've had them for months (years?!) and never known what to do with them. They are traditionally used as brioche molds, but I immediately saw them as sophisticated cupcakes.
I recently saw a cake on Pinterest that was garnished with FIGS, walnuts and caramel sauce. It is absolutely stunning - bad part is the website was in German and the cake (from the half translation I was able to manage with Google Translate) was not gluten free.
That wasn't going to stop me.
The thing about baking is that you can't really "wing it" like you can cooking. You need to have the right ratios of ingredients - it is a science. I turned to one of my favorite chefs, Simone Miller, for the most amazing gluten free chocolate cake recipe.
I stuck to what I knew I could create myself: frosting and caramel sauce. Once you've made one buttercream, you've made 100. It is so fundamentally simple and you can't really mess it up. Not sweet enough? Add more sweetener. Not thick enough? Add more butter. Simple. Caramel is also basic: sugar, butter, cream.
These little beauties are topped with a goat cheese and mascarpone frosting, a drizzle of decadent caramel sauce and garnished with a fresh fig. Goat cheese and fig go together like peanut butter and jelly. Its a match made in heaven. Goat cheese and normally thought of as a savory flavor, but it brings an amazing element of character to this not-so-sweet buttercream.
Make no mistake - these aren't "healthy" to the point where you can go crazy and have 5 and call it dinner. However, there are certainly occasions that call for a special treat, and when those occasions arise you should always aim to use the highest quality of ingredients (i.e. ditch the heavily processed flour and artificial food coloring).
I hope you give these a try for your next special occasion...even if the occasion is simply surviving a week of work making it to the weekend!
Fig, Caramel and Goat Cheese Chocolate Cakes
No Joke Dark Chocolate Cake
I used Zenbelly's No Joke Dark Chocolate Cake recipe for these cakes. It is FANTASTIC. Not overly sweet but rich with chocolate flavor. I made the recipe she has in her cookbook which is scaled to a slightly larger batch. I was able to make 8 larger fluted cakes and 6 smaller, using the molds shown above. I would imagine this recipe will make 12 cupcakes.
If you use the molds like I did (and recommend!) then make sure you grease these VERY liberally or else you won't be able to remove them. You should also plan on leveling out the cakes once they have cooled and been removed from the molds. Slice any excess from the bottoms so that the cakes sit flat.
Goat Cheese Frosting
- 8 oz mascarpone cheese
- 5 oz goat cheese
- 1/2 cup organic powdered sugar OR homemade unrefined powdered sugar
Combine mascarpone cheese and goat cheese in a large mixing. Using an electric hand mixer or standing mixer, beat on low for about 1 minute to cream the cheeses together. Add powdered sugar and beat on high for about 3 minutes until frosting begins to firm up and hold shape. Transfer into a pastry bag fitted with the decorating tip of your choice and frost the tops of the cakes. You can also simply transfer the frosting to a Ziploc bag and snip a small hole in one of the corners.
Yields roughly 1 cup of caramel sauce
- 4 tbsp grassfed butter
- 3/4 cup coconut palm sugar (this a rich, unrefined sugar - in a pinch you could substitute light brown sugar but coconut palm sugar is recommended!)
- 1/2 cup half & half
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
Mix butter and sugar together in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar melts into the butter, about 1 minute. Increase heat to medium and slowly pour the half & half into the saucepan and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and continue mixing intermittently, allowing sauce to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and cook for an additional minute to combine. Make sure you keep an eye on stirring this mixture as it cooks or else the butter may separate from the sauce and create a layer of oil on the top.
Pull mixture from stove and allow to cool. Transfer to a glass jar and continue to cool mixture in the refrigerator. You won't use all of these caramel sauce on the cupcakes so you will have some leftovers - it tastes great drizzled into your coffee or over a scoop of coconut ice cream!
Assembly of cakes
- No Joke Chocolate Cakes
- Goat Cheese Frosting
- Caramel Sauce
- 6 fresh figs, quartered
Top each cupcake with frosting. Next, drizzle caramel sauce over each cake. I transferred the sauce to a Ziploc sandwich bag and cut the smallest hole in the corner which worked great for drizzling. Lastly, garnish each cake with 2 cut pieces of fig.