Monday, April 28, 2014

[Cupcake Portraits] Discworld Personalities: Terry Pratchett

For those who really need to know, Terry Pratchett was born in Buckinghamshire in 1948. He's managed to avoid all interesting jobs authors take in order to look good in this sort of biography. In search for a quiet life he got a job as a Press officer with the Central Electricity Generating Board just after Three Mile Island, which shows the unerring sense of timing. Now a full time writer, he lives in Wiltshire with his wife and daughter. He likes people to buy him banana daiquiris (he knows people don't read author biographies, but feels it might be worth a try). 
- Good Omens

Time for a new Discworld personality to get a cupcake portrait! But, who shall it be? Not a witch. Not a wizard. Not a guard either! 
I confess I've toyed with a DEATH concept for a while, but then it occurred to me that there was another homage to be paid before that...

Image belongs to Paul Kidby @

...because honouring the characters is all fine and good, but what about the author himself? 
And, what better day to do this than his birthday?

The Good Omens version of Terry Pratchett's bio made it super easy to find my concept, yet I had a little problem right there - namely, I had no idea what a Banana Daiquiri was (or, for that matter, how it was supposed to be pronounced even!)
So I did my fair bit of web-searching, and discovered it is basically a cocktail made with pureed banana, rum, triple sec, and lime juice. Debate is raging on between those who think it is kosher to throw in Crème de Banana liqueur as well, and those who are dead set against it. 
Also, when pronounced correctly it sounds like "DUCK hairy". True story!

So, to make a long story short - I picked what looked like the most widely accepted version of the cocktail and made myself a nice, big glass. All for the sake of research, you know how it is. 
Alas, much as I wanted to love it, I can't say I did - I'm guessing they add something to the banana puree in fancy pubs, because in its natural state it turns an icky brown in a matter of seconds, even with all the lime juice and alcohol and stuff mixed in. Also, the drink itself... it's not that it tasted bad, but it was thick and heavy and far too sweet. 

Uh... Sir Pratchett? I love you to pieces, I really do - but, you like yourself some seriously girly cocktail. Sorry, but it's true. 
Give me a Mojito or Black Russian any day!

Now about the cupcake version! 

You will need ripe bananas for it, although not nearly as squishy as you'd want them to be for banana bread
This is the ripeness stage you should be aiming for:

I found it easier to de-construct the cocktail, by making some seriously banany cupcakes and leaving it to the glaze to convey the booze-and-lime kick. The definite advantage to this approach is that the rum doesn't evaporate in the oven!
Even if you, too, find the original cocktail a bit meh, I think I can safely promise you'll love these cupcakes. A kid-friendly version is provided, but honestly... it's just not the same thing, y'know? 

Banana Daiquiri Cupcakes

* 2 1/2 cups ripe bananas, pureed
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
* 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
* 1 cup light brown sugar
* 3 large eggs
* 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
* 3 Tbsp Crème de Banana (or 1/2 tsp banana extract)
* 1 tsp rum extract (optional - see recipe for the glaze, further down)

1.  Pre-heat oven to 350° F. 

2.  Sift the flour, salt, and baking soda into a bowl. 

3.  Cream the butter and sugars (use a stand mixer if possible.) Once they've fluffed up nicely, add in the eggs, one by one. 

4.  With a fork, whisk the Crème de Banana or banana extract (plus the rum extract, if using) and buttermilk together. 

5.  Set your stand mixer to its lowest speed, then add the dry ingredients and boozy buttermilk alternately. Pro bakers say you should start and end with the flour mix. 

6.  Puree the bananas by throwing them in a blender and pulsing briefly for 2-3 times. Quickly add them into the mixer bowl, so they won't have the time to turn brown on you. 

7.  Pour the batter into a cupcakes mold, lined with paper wrappers. 
I got a crapload (it's a technical term) o' cupcakes out of these doses - over 50 for sure. I had a small crowd to feed, but you can feel free to halve all doses (the eggs are tricky; I consider 2 medium eggs to be a fair estimate.)

8.  Carefully place a water-filled silicon cup on the oven's bottom. It will slowly evaporate and the humidity will make your cupcakes wonderfully soft and moist!

9.  Bake for about 20 minutes. Always test for doneness ofc; every oven is different!
(If using the boozy lime glaze, I suggest you prepare it while the cuppies bake, as it should be poured on them while they're still warm!)

10. Leave the cupcakes in the mold for about 5 minutes before removing them. Proceed to glaze them right away, then - once they have cooled down completely - frost and decorate them!

11.  Crack open your favourite Discworld novel. Have a toast to Terry Pratchett. Enjoy your cupcakes while reading away!

The glaze is where the serious booze comes into play, so if you're planning to let kids have a cupcake or three, you'll want to skip the alcohol altogether, and maybe add an half teaspoon rum extract to the batter itself. 
I most definitely do NOT recommend this if you're making them for yourself - it's one of the perks of being an adult!

I was lucky enough to find this gorgeous British-style lime marmalade... 

If you can't find it, you can simply make a simple syrup out of rum, lime juice, and sugar or honey. But the marmalade is a treat in itself, so if you can get your dirty paws on a jar, you'll be happy!

Rum & Lime Glaze

* 3-4 limes
* Lime marmalade (or mild honey or sugar, diluted with more lime juice)
* Dark rum (omit if making the cupcakes for kids)

Juice the limes. 

While the cupcakes are baking, pour about 10 Tbsp lime marmalade and 4 Tbsp lime juice in a small saucepan. Heat on low fire, stirring constantly. 
Turn it off as soon as it starts simmering.

Stir in some rum, according to taste; 6 to 10 Tbsp should be fine. (Guess how many I used?)

As soon as the cupcakes can be removed from the mold, poke little holes into them with a toothpick...

...and pour about 1/2 Tbsp glaze on each. Most of the glaze should seep into the cupcakes - it helps if they're still warm - but it's ok if some of it pools on their top!

As for the frosting, I didn't want some heavy buttercream, so I went for Martha Stewart's "cloud frosting" (a.k.a. Seven-Minute Frosting), minus the vanilla extract
Her recipe involves egg whites and a candy thermometer (and lots of whisking!), yet it 's not difficult to make at all. 
And it results in a fluffy, creamy frosting which feels indeed cloud-like, and not overhelmingly greasy and sweet. 

Plus, it's so shiny and pretty when piped into fluffy swirls!

Instead of vanilla extract, I put in a few teaspoons more rum and Crème de Banana in my frosting, plus what was left of the lime juice. 
I'll admit this compromised its stability more than a little, as the icing was very soft and prone to deflating when left at room temperature - yet I think it really helped to tie all the flavous together, and was totally worth it!

I wouldn't try keeping the frosted cupcakes for more than 24 hours anyway, and even so, I'd recommend storing them in the fridge. I use pasteurized egg whites for all of my baking but, as they say, better safe than sorry!
You can always freeze the baked cupcakes, unglazed and unfrosted, until you're ready to eat them - they'll keep wonderfully that way!

These cupcakes are very soft (read this as: they're not simply a banana bread baked into a cupcake mold!), and since they're well soaked with lime and booze, they're beyond moist - simply irresistible!

Also, since they're supposed to mimic a Banana Daiquiri, they don't need much in the way of decoration. Simply stick a paper umbrella and a straw in them, top with a cocktail cherry, and garnish with a  thin slice of banana - just like you'd do with the cocktail itself!

No comments:

Post a Comment