Saturday, July 25, 2009

Salad Cupcakes

Last night I was reading Cupcakes Take The Cake. I found myself inspired by the mention of "cupcake salad." What I came up with is a simple, fun cupcake you can make for a dinner party.

I started by tweaking a recipe for blueberry buttermilk muffins. This recipe produced enough batter for 12 normal sized cupcakes and 12 mini cupcakes. Also, you don't want guests biting into the cupcakes and having salad toppings spill on the floor. That is why items such as fruit or nuts should be in the cupcake batter instead of sprinkled over the lettuce.

2 1/2 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup melted butter - The original called for 1/4 lb. Didn't notice that until this morning
1 c. chopped cherries
2 Tbsp olive oil

Mix and sift dry ingredients together in large mixing bowl. Gradually add in buttermilk, eggs & melted butter. Mix in olive oil. Gently fold in cherries into mixture. Pour into greased muffin pan. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before starting the salad layer.

1 Tbsp Ile De France Goat Cheese (Original recipe: La Buchette)
2-3 pieces of lettuce from a bag of Fresh Express Premium Romaine Mix, torn into smaller bits
1-2 Ile De France Mini Toasts / Le Petit Pain Grille, broken into smaller pieces
1/2 Tsbp Ken's Steak House Lite Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette

After cupcakes have cooled completely, cut out the center of the cupcake. I used the round top of a sports bottle in place of a biscuit cutter. Don't push too hard when coring the cupcake, or it will crack on one side like mine did. You can scoop out any extra bits of cupcake with a small spoon if necessary.

Next, press the goat cheese on the hollowed walls and bottom of the cupcake. My first plan had been to use a dip or a ranch dressing. But those would have turned the cupcakes & lettuce soggy right away.

Now sprinkle some of the broken mini toast over the goat cheese. Top with a small amount of the lettuce. Alternate layers that way until the top layer is lettuce. Don't start your layering with the lettuce against the goat cheese. The mini toasts keep the lettuce from becoming mushy next to the cheese. Why mini toasts instead of croutons, you may wonder ? Mini toasts are flat and wide, making them easy to break into pieces smaller than croutons. Square croutons would have taken up too much space in the salad. And breaking croutons would've turned them into crumbs. Mini toasts give the cupcakes thin, jagged pieces that nestle in the lettuce. The result is small, crunchy bites for your guests.

Just before serving, sprinkle 1/2 tbsp or less vinaigrette over the lettuce. Only a tiny amount of dressing is required. Your guests should be able to take a bite and not have dressing splash out on them.

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