Sunday, November 25, 2012

chocolate vino cotto cheesecake cupcakes - and the start of the monthly unusual ingredient project (muip)

The monthly unusual ingredient, an introduction:
What even is this?

To explain, here’s a brief story:
Recently I discovered the very unusual joy of vino cotto. Not as sweet as your usual syrups of the golden, maple or chocolate variety, with a unique slight spicy, complex flavour. It’s very interesting and definitely worth trying. Vino cotto is a sweet, thin, sweet syrup made from wine/grapes. It has a  slight complexity to it, as result of coming from wine. It's beautiful with prunes, on pancakes and also matched with dark chocolate in cooking. I got hooked on the stuff while experimenting with The CapeFarm Shop's vino cotto soaked prunes at Gabriel Chocolate a while back and ever since been thinking about how I could use it in my cooking... consequently I've developed a few recipes that I think are worth sharing.

Sure, you’re thinking, vino cotto, sounds delicious…BUT, have you ever noticed how when you buy a cool, funky unusual ingredient for a recipe often it’s not exactly cheap and you never use all of it, right? And then it sits in your pantry for months and goes to waste or eventually gets thrown out 2 years after you bought it when you’re moving house and you can’t make out the use-by-date any more? Yep, I’ve noticed that. Totally been there, trust me. So, I’ve come up with the monthly unusual ingredient idea. When I find an ingredient I like, think is useful and delicious, I’ll post only recipes using that ingredient for that month. That way, if you were to take my advice and buy the product you’d have a range of ideas/recipes to make with it. 

ALSO: if you have any great recipes yourself with my slightly gourmet, but a little unusual ingredient choices, then send them my way! I’ll give you cred, plus I might need some ideas. I mean, this could be a bit of a challenge.

And now for another brief story, followed by a recipe for some totally delicious chocolate and vino cotto cheesecake cupcakes…

Recently a group of students at the high school I teach at recently decided that I would challenge them in a “birthday cake-off” for one of their birthdays. Flattered, I explained to them that I simply couldn't be involved because I had a rent inspection on the same day as said birthday. I would, therefore, clearly be cleaning my house on the evening prior to this birthday, rather than making more mess in my kitchen.

“Oh, Miss,” one of them said with doleful eyes, “but we've been talking about this for a week.” That is how I found myself inventing this cupcake recipe on a Wednesday afternoon instead of scrubbing my shower.

The “icing” part of the recipe is really the show pony of the whole cake. It turns the cupcakes from iced cupcakes into a cheesecake/cupcake hybrid. It turns something already quite delicious into something totally drool worthy. It also stops the icing from being overly/sickly sweet and, because it's made with mainly cream cheese, not butter, it's not as fat loaded as you might envisage.

I'd been wanting to use vino cotto in and icing/filling for a cake for a while, now I just had to get off my bum and invent the darn thing.

So really, while scrubbing my shower is terribly exciting, this little cake challenge was exactly the kick in the pants I needed to get this recipe sorted.

Here are the cakes from the cake off, care to hazard a guess which one/s might be mine?

Hint: it's this one.
Vino Cotto and Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes
Makes 12

You need:
200g room temperature butter
1 cup castor sugar
2 eggs
 ½ tsp vanilla essence
1/3 cup milk
2 cups of self-raising flour
½ cup cocoa powder

Cheesecake filling:
400g cream cheese
¼ cup vino cotto
2 tbsp cocoa butter
25g butter
½ tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup icing sugar


Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a muffin/cupcake pan.

Using a handheld/stand mixer blend the 200g of room temperature butter with the castor sugar until smooth and pale.

Add the eggs, milk and vanilla essence, blend into the butter mixture.

Blend in the cocoa and flour.

Put enough mixture into the individual moulds to be about 2 cm below the rim.

Bake the cupcakes for 30 minutes in the oven. Check that they’re down by sticking a skewer in, if it comes out clean they’re cooked through.

Turn the cakes out and allow to cool on a rack.

While they’re cooling prepare your filling. Put all the ingredients for the filling into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. If you don’t have a food processor or blender use a deep bowl and a hand mixer or stand mixer to blend.

Refrigerate the filling until the cakes are cooled. Cut the cakes horizontally in half. Use half of your filling to spread inside the 12 or so cupcakes. Then top these cupcakes with the rest of your filling mixture. Refrigerate immediately to allow the cakes to set. They’ll need 30 minutes but could be refrigerated for to 4 hours.

If you want to decorate them further top just before serving. I used rose buds because I had them in my pantry because I bought them for something else and then left them in my pantry for months and didn’t know what else to use them for… and so I used them for this.

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