I have been admiring all the berries at the farmer’s markets and grocery store. When you walk by the berries they are beautiful hues of reds, purple, blue, and somewhat pinkish. I hold myself back from grabbing a handful and popping them in my mouth for a taste as I walk pass them. How can you resist? Not only do they look gorgeous, their flavor is so bright and ripe.
As I was gazing at some the other day, I picked up some blueberries and blackberries that were just picked from one of the local farms. I started to think about how I love to eat cheese when I eat fruit, so I stopped by a cheese counter at the market and purchased some fresh goat cheese and headed on my way home. While walking home my mind wandered into how underutilized cheese is when it comes to desserts. I mean besides a cheese plate, cream cheese, or ricotta - how often does cheese actually make an appearance in a sweet ending to a meal? I love when my thoughts go off on their own tangents because you never really know when inspiration will hit.
By the time I was home, inspiration stepped in. I was thinking of making some cupcakes…berry, filled-to-the-rim cupcakes! There was only one possibility to go along with it…a goat cheese icing to top them off with. The goat cheese would be used like that of a cream cheese. Instead of that sour quality that cream cheese possesses, the goat cheese would lend it's tangy flavor. Taking this and lightly sweetening it, and adding in some vanilla, it would play off the sweet and tart flavor of the berry filled cupcakes. I got to baking and when cupcakes were out of the oven I helped myself to one. It was delicious and the berries burst and oozed with their juices. As I whipped up the icing I tested the flavor, and then again, and again; I was like puppy love – I was in total infatuation. Once again, I held myself back – there is nothing pretty about eating a batch of icing all by yourself with a spoon.
All in all it was a great experiment. I was extremely pleased with the pairing of it all. When Brian came home and ate one after dinner, he looked at me and asked, “Can I have another?” Of course, but we wrapped up the others and I gave them to Brian to take to work with him. His co-workers graciously helped themselves, and I have been told that they are waiting for this recipe to be written up. So here it is for all to enjoy. And let me just leave you with a warning: the icing is enough for a double batch of cupcakes, if you can resist eating with a spoon on its own. Enjoy!
Black and Blue Cupcakes (makes 15)
(***Note: the cupcake wrappers you see above I purchased at Sur la Table. They are great because they “stand” on their own, doing away with the cupcake pan! Also they come in a variety of patterns and colors!)
4 oz butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups AP flour
½ tsp sea salt
2 tsp baking powder
½ cup buttermilk
2 cups blueberries, heaping
2 cups blackberries, heaping (roughly chopped if they are large)
First; in a bowl, whisk together your flour, sea salt, and baking powder and set aside. In the bowl of a mixer place your sugar and butter and mix until it is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the egg and mix until just combined, scraping down the edge of the bowl to be sure all is incorporated.
Next, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In three parts alternate your flour mixture, followed by your buttermilk to your sugar and butter mixture. Stir until just combined and not over mixed. Fold in your blue and black berries until well combined.
Finally, scoop your batter into your cupcake wrappers. You are looking to fill the wrappers about ¾ of the way full. Place in the center of the oven and bake about 25 minutes, rotating it half way through. You are looking for the cake to be firm to touch, golden and slightly browned. Let cool about 30 minutes before eating or icing. Keep up to 3 days, but best to be refrigerated.
Icing (makes enough for a double batch of cupcakes)
4 oz butter, softened
4 oz fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
3 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
1 tbsp of vanilla extract
2 – 3 tbsp of milk
First, place your butter and goat cheese in the bowl of your mixer and mix until it is well combined and fluffy.
Next, adding ½ - 1 cup of your powdered sugar at a time to your butter mixture with the mixer running on low. Wait until all the powdered sugar is combined before adding more. Once all the sugar is combined add your vanilla and a bit of milk at a time until you feel the icing has the consistency that you like. (I aim for spreadable while still able to keep its shape.)
Finally, you can ice your cupcakes right away. You can store the remainder of the icing in an air tight container, refrigerated for two weeks. When ready to reuse, be sure to bring to room temperature before trying to spread it. (If you still feel it is too stiff you can remix it with a bit of milk to make it spreadable.)