A friend from work hired me to make cupcakes for a Valentine’s Day party she was attending. I wanted to impress her with something creative. Mary loves French cuisine but I know little to nothing about it. It’s from her that I learned what Crème de Cassis was (a sweet black currant-flavored liquor). When served with champagne, Crème de Cassis becomes a Kir Royale. Fancy huh?
I wanted to incorporate the flavor she liked so much into her cupcakes. I went with a champagne chiffon cupcake, which I found on Annie’s Eats. The cupcake was so light and airy; it paralleled angel food cake. A delicate chiffon cake was a good choice because it’s light enough to soak up the champagne giving it a wonderful flavor. Then instead of going with a ganache like Annie, I piped my cupcakes with a basic vanilla buttercream frosting that was spiked with just enough Crème de Cassis to give it a subtle black currant flavor and pinkish hue. The end result was a fancy schmancy Kir Royale Cupcake.
Note: Choose a champagne you like; the cupcakes will soak up the flavor. The sweeter the champagne you chose, the sweeter the cupcake. I went with a Brut which is more dry, but Blush Pink or Extra Dry might be really tasty too. The brand is up to you too, I splurged and went with a $4.99 bottle of André.
For the Champagne Cupcakes:
2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
7 large egg whites
7 large egg yolks
1 ½ cups sugar, divided
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup champagne
For the Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons Crème de Cassis (more or less depending on color/flavor you desire)
Makes 2 dozen cupcakes. We halved the recipe and got well over 2 dozen minis (we love minis). The minis baked for about 8-10 minutes.
To make the cupcakes, preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with liners. Combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they become foamy. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and increase the speed to medium-high; beat until stiff peaks form. Carefully transfer the beaten egg whites to a separate bowl and set aside. Rinse and dry the mixer bowl and return it to the mixer base, fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the egg yolks, the remaining sugar, the vegetable oil and the vanilla to the mixing bowl; mix until well-combined. Add in half of the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Mix in the champagne and then the remaining dry ingredients just until incorporated.
Fold in about one third of the egg whites with a rubber spatula to lighten the batter. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites, being careful not to deflate the batter. Divide the batter between the cupcake liners, filling them about ¾ full. Bake for about 13 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops are golden. Allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, use a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip the butter on medium-high speed, about 5 minutes. Stop to scrape the bowl down once or twice. Then mix in the vanilla.
Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and salt. Once all of the confectioners’ sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and whip until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.
Fold in the Crème de Cassis, a half teaspoon at a time until you get the color and flavor you want. Store any unused buttercream in the refrigerator in an airtight container. When you want to use it simply let it come to room temperature first then give it a quick whip in the mixer.