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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cupcake Camp III - when the going gets weird, the weird turn Pro . . .

Onward to the "Most Unusual" Champion . . .
West Poplar Persimmon Pavlova Passion - Photo Courtesy Dee Dee Arthur
West Poplar Persimmon Pavlova Passion
A crunchy cupcake with a juicy filling . . .

Meringue Cups

These can be done waaaaaayyy in advance.  Kept in a cool, dry place meringues are stable for weeks.  The resemblance to styrofoam is not coincidental, although they are much tastier.

You will need:

  • large Egg Whites
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Cream of Tartar
  • 1-1/4 c. granulated Sugar
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and line your cupcake pan with papers.  These don't do great in a greased pan, no matter how theoretically nonstick it may be.

Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until foamy.  If you have a copper bowl, that's a bonus.  I recommend some variety of electric mixer, unless you really need a workout and don't mind people speculating about why one arm is so much bigger than the other.

Add the salt and cream of tartar, and beat more until the whites form soft peaks.  Beat in the sugar a little at a time until all the sugar is incorporated and the meringue forms high glossy peaks.

Spoon enough meringue into each cup to fill half way.  Use a butter knife to spread up the sides of the cup and create a (somewhat asymmetrical) cup.  Don't try to get them perfectly even; the wabi-sabi is part of their charm, and, besides, that way lies madness.

Bake for one hour.  If they start to brown, turn down to 225.

Turn off the oven, prop the door slightly open, and let them cool.

Turn out onto baking racks upside down until completely cool and dry.  The gymnastics help minimize weeping.

Store in an airtight bag or tin until ready to use.

Persimmion Curd

You might wonder,"why Persimmons"?  Why not?

Especially if you have awesome next-door neighbors like Bob and Clara.  Both in their 80's, Bob is a retired horticulturalist who has a delightful and rambling micro-farm in the front yard, and Clara is one of the longest serving volunteers at the Charleston Public Library, who are damned lucky to have her.

Anywhoo, they have two enormous and prolific persimmon trees out front, and Bob brings us sackfuls of them.  Since we can't possibly eat them as fast as they come during peak season, I scoop them out and freeze the pulp in ice cube trays, making for an easy, fruity addition to desserts and smoothies for months to come.

And that's why.

So . . . 
  • 5 Egg Yolks (funny how that works out)
  • 1 c. Sugar
  • 1 c. Persimmon Pulp
  • 1 Lemon, zested & juiced
  • 1 stick Butter, chilled and cut up into pats
Put a couple of inches of water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

Whisk together yolks, sugar, persimmon and lemon in a bowl that will sit comfortably on top of the saucepan without touching the water.  Lower the heat so the water is barely simmering, and sit it there.

Whisk for 7-10 minutes, until the curd begins to thicken and will coat the back of a spoon.  Now the fun part!

Remove the bowl from the heat, and begin to whisk in pats of cold butter, one at a time, waiting for each one to melt.  The curd will become deliciously thick.

Let cool, and refrigerate until cold.  This will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge, so it's a great do-ahead as well.

Pouring Persimmon Curd - photo courtesy of Eugene Mah
You'll want to pour the custard into your cups just before serving, so you don't end up with soggy bottoms, as nobody likes that.  As you can see, this is not a precision operation.  Decorate with Pomegranate arils.

And that's that.  Enjoy! 

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