I’ve been thinking lately about trying some of my own recipes and cupcake designs. Over the past year I’ve really enjoyed following other bakers’ recipes, but there is something fun about tweaking things on your own. I was thinking about cheesecake, and how I’ve seen cupcakes before with a cheesecake filling, and I thought it would be fun to make a cupcake that actually tastes like a cheesecake. I then realized that if the cheesecake mixture is the filling for the cupcake, you really get too much cupcake and not enough cheesecake. So I thought it would be fun to do an “inside-out” cheesecake cupcake, with a graham cracker flavoured cupcake filled with a cheesecake topping (berry coulis, caramel, or chocolate ganache), and a cream cheese frosting to act as the cheesecake flavour in these cupcakes.
I don’t think I’m ready yet to fully come up with my own cupcake recipe from scratch, so I modified a rich yellow cake recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook. I chose ratios for a full batch of cupcakes, but I only baked up 1/4 of a batch so I didn’t have too many cupcakes lying around. I want to do a little more tweaking of this recipe, and hopefully I’ll be back soon with a full-size recipe for you all.
This recipe was developed after looking at some graham cracker recipes to pick out the important ingredients involved in adapting this cupcake recipe. Honey and brown sugar seemed to play a prominent role, so I wanted to try replacing some of the granulated sugar with honey, and some with brown sugar. Now, honey and brown sugar make for a sweeter cupcake than granulated sugar, so I slightly reduced the sugar in this recipe. I opted for a 2:1:1 ratio of brown sugar to honey to granulated sugar (it turns out I was out of honey so I substituted equal amounts of corn syrup and table syrup for my honey, but I think honey would lend a bit more of an authentic homemade Graham cracker flavour). I also added a small amount of cinnamon. Though this isn’t essential in a Graham cracker recipe, I thought it would be a nice addition to compliment the sweetness of the cupcake. It also helps to give the cupcake a slightly speckled colour, which makes it look a bit more like the crackers.
I normally bake cupcakes at 400 F when I’m using my Betty Crocker recipes, but I reduced my temperature to 375 F, as I’ve heard that honey can brown faster than sugar and a reduction in temperature can help with this. I didn’t see a difference in cooking time; these took 18 minutes as usual.
While my cupcakes were baking, I made my cream cheese frosting. I followed a recipe by Cupcake Jemma for this. I’ve actually never made cream cheese frosting before. I found it to be a little too soft, which makes it hard to pipe very nicely. I’m not sure if this is just because I made only a small batch (1/4 of the full recipe), or if that tends to be typical of cream cheese frostings. I added a little vanilla to the frosting as well, because this is a typical addition to cheesecakes.
Once my cupcakes were cool, I hollowed out the cupcakes using an apple corer. I left one cupcake plain, and decided to fill it with the cream cheese frosting (I thought three fillings would be enough for four cupcakes). For the second, I made a quick bumbleberry filling. Ideally this would be a coulis, but for only one cupcake I opted for a quicker, microwave version. I microwaved some frozen berries (blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry) with a little lemon juice and sugar, then strained through a mesh strainer to remove the extra liquid. Once the berry goop had cooled slightly, I put it in a ziploc bag and filled my second cupcake. I topped again with the cream cheese frosting, and I drizzled a little of the leftover berry juice over top (I realized that when the filling is on the inside, it’s difficult to tell which cupcake is which, so there has to be some amount of filling on top, otherwise you are just grabbing mystery cupcakes). I do really like the contrast between the berry juice and the white icing, so I think this was a nice touch to finish off these cupcakes.
For the second filling, I made a quick chocolate ganache. I didn’t have full whipping cream on hand, so I opted for a 3:1 ratio of semi-sweet chocolate to 18% cream. I hoped that the higher chocolate content would keep it firm even without the full cream. Unfortunately, since the ganache turned out a bit thick this way, I wasn’t able to pipe it on top of the cupcake in a very nice way, so I ended up with a big ugly chocolate blob. I think in future, if I try these cupcakes again, I would opt for some chocolate shavings. It would look a little more classy in the end, and would preserve the shape of the icing underneath. I used a new jumbo star tip for this, and I love the massive swirl it gives, but a lot of it gets lost underneath the chocolate.
The final cupcake was caramel filled. I whipped up a small batch of caramel sauce using butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and my 18% cream. I let this cool a little, then filled my cupcake, topped with the cream cheese frosting, then drizzled some caramel on top. The caramel was much runnier than my ganache so it looks much nicer on top of the cupcake.
I left the other cupcakes in the fridge before cutting, so you can see that the buttercream is a little more firm. I ate one of the caramel cupcakes right away, so you will notice the caramel just oozed out when I cut into the cupcake, and the frosting is quite soft.
This turned into a very delicious experiment. The cupcakes had a great flavour that complemented the filling and the cream cheese frosting. I was also pleasantly surprised by the taste of the frosting; I think I was expecting it to be a little more sour, but it was closer to a traditional cheesecake flavour than I thought it would be. I think my favourite was the caramel, though I will admit it was very rich. But something about that oozing caramel mingling with the cream cheese frosting and the hint of cinnamon and brown sugar in the cupcakes… yum!
I would definitely like to try these again, and I’m interested to see if I could actually frost the cupcakes with a no-bake cheesecake filling, instead of a cream cheese frosting. That way, once set, it might hold its shape better. I also thought it might be fun to do a flat-topped frosting on these, score some lines on top, and pipe a little dab of whipping cream on each ‘slice’, so the top view of the cupcake looks like a cheesecake. With the gooey, rich fillings, it might be nice to have a little less icing, and a firmer icing to help hold everything together.
All in all, I would call this a successful experiment! I’ll put in a few more tweaks and hopefully I will come back to you soon with a recipe 🙂