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Ispahan Cupcakes And A Cookbook Giveaway

Ispahan Cupcakes-Copyright©Tartelette 2008
Before I talk about these cupcakes, I need, I have to, I must and want to thank you all who visit this site and leave fun and thoughtful comments. I am overwhelmed each time you wish to share something with me. I try my best to visit as many bogs as I can but I always seem to run out of time. I apologize if I am sporadic in my visits on your sites. I try to give, share and support and I just wanted you to know that I am sorry if you don’t always see me around in a timely manner. You guys are the best!

The cupcakes? Oh, yes….I did say in my last post that the next one would be about cupcakes, didn’t I? For the cookbook giveaway, you have to either read this until the end or scroll down to the bottom.

One of my friends just had a baby a few weeks ago, a little preemie named Rose. Now that mom and baby are back home and settling down into their new routine, we decided to throw them a very special "Welcome Home" since the birth and following days were rather traumatic for the both of them. A soon as her husband called me to ask if I could take care of the dessert table, I knew I would have to make little Rose, Ispahan cupcakes, inspired by Pierre Herme famous macarons dominated by flavors like rose, raspberry and lychee, and that he now spreads to a whole array of creations.

Rose is a precious baby in all aspects of the word, and since she is a preemie, her parents decided to have a donation box by the dessert table to contribute to the amazing work done by the March Of Dimes foundation. In my case, I am virtually sending these to Holly who graciously shared her story with us to spotlight this foundation by organizing a Little Wonders Event. Holding Rose in my arms was a very emotional moment for me, that little wee bittie girl fighting so hard to be part of this world just made me melt and the least I could do was to try to make it a comfortable place.

Back when my mother was here in February I baked his Ispahan Cake from his latest book "Confidences Sucrees". The cake was so good it was gone before I could take a picture, which in a way was not that bad since I had to use a bright pink colored rose extract that made the cake a little too fashion forward for my taste. For the cake a mix of rose water and rose essence works best so as soon as my new stash arrived I put the idea of making the cake into cupcakes into action. If you can’t find rose essence, add more rose water which you can find in health food stores or Asian grocers. The cake recipe was great but not fit to be used as is into cupcakes, instead I use a basic white cupcake batter to which I added almonds and a good dose of rose flavor. Hidden inside the cupcake is a whole lychee to stay true to the original Ispahan macaron and the frosting is my tried and true cream cheese frosting enhanced with raspberry puree to keep up with the whole rapsberry-rose idea.

I understand that not everybody like lychees as much as I do, and I understand it is an acquired taste and texture but if you can find fresh ones, go ahead and use these, the canned ones are awfully sweet. For the cupcakes I had to use canned lychees which I rinsed off a couple of times under cold water and patted dry before incorporating to the cupcakes. Same things with the raspberries, use jam or preserve instead of fresh but reduce the sugar in the frosting a little. I just loved these and given the empty box I came back with, I think they went quite well! I can’t wait for Rose to be old enough to have one instead of watching a bunch of adults passing these in front of her nose!!

Ispahan Cupcakes-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 Ispahan Cupcakes:

Makes 24
Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground almonds
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup rose water
1 tsp rose essence (if available)
24 whole lychees (or 24 halves if they are big)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 24 cupcake liners with cooking spray and set them on a baking sheet.
In a small bowl, combine the flours and set aside.In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and rose water. Do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon half the batter into the liners, place one lychee int he center and top with the remaining batter, leaving a two inch space to the top as the cupcake will rise. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup raspberry puree (run enough fresh raspberries in the blender to make up 1/2 cup)
or use 1.5 cups powdered sugar with 1/2 cup raspberry jam.

In bowl of electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter, on low speed, until very smooth with no lumps. Gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat, on low speed, until fully incorporated and smooth. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the frosting and pipe on the cupcakes. Top with a fresh raspberry.

Ispahan Cupcakes-Copyright©Tartelette 2008
Now…..The cookbook giveaway I mentioned at the beginning. I find myself with an extra copy of this book and thought to share it with one of you. It is full of great recipes for cakes, pies, cookies and brownies made famous by the folks at Nestle, both American and International.

All you have to do is leave a comment (and why not tell me about your favorite cookbook at the same time) and I will let the random generator pick the lucky winner, anywhere in the world by Monday night.