After spending a month elbow deep in pomegranates last November, who’d of thunk I’d be back at it again? It wasn’t hard to resist, after getting notification of another, less involved, contest from POM Wonderful. This time, POM’s charged their faithful followers with creating a pomegranate-themed cupcake in honor of Valentine’s Day AND American Heart Month. For every participant that enters, POM will donate $1 to the American Heart Association – how cool is that? Pretty cool, I suppose, unless you’re a contestant watching the entry numbers increase to compete against yours. But that’s okay.
Without further ado, here’s MY entry for the POM Wonderful Valentine Cupcake Contest:
Vanilla Cardamom Cupcakes
POM Vanilla Custard
White Chocolate, POM, Vanilla, Cardamom Ganache
POM-Infused Sugared Fresh Ginger
For the cupcakes – a variation of this recipe by Ina Garten:
2 1/4 sticks butter (room temperature)
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs (room temperature)
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon finely ground cardamom
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 24 muffin tins with paper liners.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed, until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and stir until smooth.
Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, baking soda and cardamom in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full with the batter. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 – 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature.
Yield: 24 cupcakes.
For the custard filling – a variation of this recipe for pastry cream by Ina Garten:
5 large egg yolks (room temperature)
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups scalded milk (hot, but not boiling)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon POM Wonderful pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the egg yolks and sugar on med-high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch.
With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over low-med heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, 5-10 minutes. Don’t be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle, switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2-3 minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick, like pudding. Stir in the vanilla, pomegranate juice, butter and heavy cream. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold.
Yield: 2 cups.
For the ganache:
1/2 cup heavy cream
12 ounces white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Cook the heavy cream, chips, cardamom and vanilla in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Use while warm.
For the ginger:
In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons finely diced fresh ginger with 1/4 cup POM Wonderful pomegranate juice. Let the ginger marinate for at least an hour. Remove the ginger from the juice and pat dry with a paper towel. Combine with a tablespoon of sugar, stirring to coat.
Use a syringe to fill the inside of the cupcakes with the custard. Personally, I like to use the syringes that come with liquid infant Tylenol – perfect size, great for poking, easy to wash.
Next, dip the cupcakes into the ganache after the ganache has had a chance to cool slightly. Let stand for about 15 minutes to set, and then spoon additional ganache over each cupcake until you reach your desired thickness. Sprinkle with sugared ginger.