1. I've used nuts.
2. The bride hates tomatoes. She put them on her evil foods list.
3. Tomato cupcakes at a wedding? I don't think so.
2. Our tomato plant has been very kind to us this year. See the picture. I figure I should give back to tomatoes by supporting them as well.
Where to begin with a tomato cupcake? Luckily, Garrett of Vanilla Garlic had paved the road by creating a tomato soup cupcake recipe back in October of '06. In his post about the cupcakes, he points out that they took 5 minutes to make. While that has great appeal, I thought I would have to make them slightly more snazzy to win a contest.
Again my favorite cupcake blogs did not let me down. Chockylit of Cupcake Bakeshop had a recipe for a basil cream filling. I thought giving the cupcake a filling would sweeten up what had the potential to be a more muffiny cupcake.
I spent some time thinking about the topping. I debated for a while using a cream cheese frosting as Garrett had done. At first, I couldn't picture cream cheese with tomato. Then it hit me... "Hello, what kind of Jew are you? Bagels, cream cheese, tomatoes, and lox." Wow, I must be out of NY too long. Despite the realization about the joy of cream cheese and tomatoes, I opted against the cream cheese in favor of a tomato honey glaze. I really wanted to take the tomato flavor home.
For the final and perhaps most important component, I found a recipe for pesto truffles on The Dough Ball.
I essentially turned a 5 minute cupcake into an all-day baking adventure.
This cupcake was a meal in itself. A unique, delicious, and filling meal. The only thing I would change is to put more filling into each cupcake. I really enjoyed the bites where I had both filling and cake. I might also try it with some actual frosting. I loved the glaze, but I'm not sure how much it added to the whole thing. It was great when I first made it. It tasted like a tomato version of applesauce. (I might even make it again for that very purpose. Maybe to serve with a potato pancake, for example.) However, by the next day it had absorbed a bit too much into the cupcake.
The Results that Counted
Finally, announcement time came. First place went to.... Tomato Beer. Come on, it's 90 degrees out and people are at a drinking event. That's a shoo-in winner. Congrats to Mr. Tomato Beer if you ever happen to come across my blog. Second place went to someone else and third place went to someone else. Guess I wasted my time. But no, turns out they created a special prize just for my tomato cupcakes! The judges gave me runner up because they LOVED them but they didn't think they were quite tomato flavored enough to give them the big prize. Hey, I'll take it. The prize was a free dinner for two at Iron Barley. Woohoo!
In case anyone doubts my prize winning, (I have no idea why you would), here is some video evidence.
This next video is of my acceptance speech. I have thus far avoided even putting a picture of me on this blog. However, I just love listening to the oohs and ahhs on this video so I had to share. There goes my anonymity. Feel free to ignore me (unless you are a member of my immediate family, in which case I expect high props) and focus on the oohs and ahhs. It's fun, at least for me. Note that when I brought the leftover pesto truffles into work, I got "ugh - no thanks". Different strokes for different folks.
Detailed Baking Notes
This next part is the detailed baking notes for any other crazy cupcake people who would like to spend a whole day making a cupcake or for anyone who would like to make just a small component of them (for example the truffles). I had to write this up to enter the contest which is why you are getting more detailed notes than normal.
Pesto Truffles (Makes dozens. You will definitely have more truffles than cupcakes and you will be happy about that.)
Truffle recipe found on http://thedoughball.blogspot.com/2007/06/my-second-sugar-high-friday-and-my.html
473 ml heavy whipping cream
Large bunch of basil leaves (about 5 oz depending on how strong a basil flavor you want)
3 bars of Godiva 60% chocolate (about 400 grams of chocolate)
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup chopped toasted pine nuts
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1) First take the basil and put it in a bowl with the cream, cover with saran wrap and let sit overnight in the fridge, stirring occasionally to mix it up.
2) The next day, take out about ½ cup of the basil leaves and cream and blend with a hand mixer so you end up with a greenish, slightly thickened mixture.
3) Now strain the unblended cream into a saucepan, pressing on the basil leaves to make sure and squeeze all the cream out of them. Hold onto the basil leaves to use in the basil cream filling.
4) Pour in olive oil and heat over medium low, stirring everything together. While you’re waiting for the cream to heat up just under a simmer (turn off the heat when you see the first baby bubbles appear), break the chocolate into small pieces in a bowl.
5) When the cream is ready, pour over the chocolate and begin stirring, and keep stirring until all the chocolate pieces have melted. Now take the blended basil and cream and mix into the chocolate and cream until everything is incorporated.
6) Put in the refrigerator until it has cooled completely and is hard enough to roll, about 6 hours. If you’re in a hurry, stick it in the freezer before you work it.
7) While you wait for your basil ganache to set, if you haven’t yet, then grate your cheese, toast your pine nuts, and chop them, and then combine together in a bowl.
8) When the ganache is ready combine the cocoa powder with the Parmesan and pine nuts and a tiny pinch of salt (keep in mind, Parmesan is salty) all in a bowl.
9) Get the ganache out and roll small chocolate balls between your palms. Throw it into the cocoa powder mixture and coat well. If desired, do a second coating in a bowl of just Parmesan cheese.
Tomato Cupcake (makes 18)
Modified from a recipe found on http://vanillagarlic.blogspot.com/2006/10/tomato-soup-cupcakes-with-cream-cheese.html.
(The reason for the modification was simply that all the condensed tomato soup that I found had high fructose corn syrup in it. Therefore, I tried to reproduce condensed tomato soup on my own with regular corn syrup. If you don't care about eating high fructose corn syrup, I'd use Garrett's recipe. It's probably lighter.)
2 cans of tomato paste
1 T corn syrup
1 T water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup of butter
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 1/2 cups of sifted self-rising flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
crushed walnuts (optional)
1) Set the butter and egg out and let them come to room temperature. Set the over to 350 degrees.
2) Mix tomato paste, corn syrup, water, and baking soda in a bowl and let it stand. Use a deep bowl as the mixture will rise.
3) Cream the butter, sugar, and spices in bowl. Add the egg and mix for 30 seconds. Mix in the tomato and soda mixture. Mix in the milk.
4) Mix the flour and baking powder together, and then beat into the mixture until just combined.
5) Pour evenly into cupcake papers. Fill the papers high since the cupcakes won’t rise much.
6) Bake for 20 min at 350 and then an additional 5 minutes at 310 or until toothpick comes out clean.
Basil Cream Filling
Recipe from http://cupcakeblog.com/index.php/2006/03/basil-cream-and-mint-cream-filled-cupcakes-with-raspberry-mousse-frosting/
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
All the basil that is leftover from the pesto truffle making
1 cup heavy cream
1) Bring sugar and water to a boil, stir until sugar dissolves.
2) Chop basil or mint and add to the mixture.
3) Boil for 3 minutes.
4) Cool to room temperature.
5) Beat heavy cream on high until stiff peaks form.
6) Add the five to six tablespoons of syrup to taste and beat until combined.
Honey Tomato Glaze
Modified from a recipe found on http://www.foodtv.ca/recipes/recipedetails.aspx?dishid=7445
3 large very ripe heirloom tomatoes, diced
2 cups aromatic honey
1 x vanilla bean, scraped
1) Combine everything in a stainless steel pot and bring to a boil.
2) Cover and reduce heat to a simmer.
3) Cook on medium low heat partially covered for 10 – 20 minutes until the tomatoes soften and the mixture has a glaze-like consistency.
4) Strain out liquid.
5) Blend the tomato and honey mixture that remains and chill.
Putting it all Together
1) When the cupcakes are cooled, cut a cone out of the top of each one.
2) Pipe some basil cream filling into the hole and replace the top.
3) Spread the glaze onto the top of each cupcake. The glaze will go on very thick (think applesauce). However after leaving it in the fridge overnight, much of it will absorb into the cupcake.
4) Top with a pesto truffle.
5) Eat and smile!