Concordia student Alexandra Johnson’s caramel, apple and macaron cupcake was one of the over 200 flavours fighting to be voted “best taste’ in the amateur category at Cupcake Camp Montreal on Sunday.
Johnson is studying honours political science and completing a minor in diversity and the contemporary world, but her interests stretch beyond the classroom to the kitchen.
She didn’t participate in last year’s event so when she decided to take part this year, she set the bar pretty high for herself by baking 200 tasty treats with the help of her friends, Amanda Caruso and Alexandra Apkarian.
“Cupcake Camp Montreal was an amazing experience. I got to meet so many cool pastry chefs, bakers, pros, amateurs, and most importantly, lots of smiling kids holding cupcakes,” said Johnson.”I didn’t even care about the competition anymore as soon as I got there. From the beginning, my aim was really to donate my time and work for these charities.”
Johnson may not have won in her category but her cupcake was delicious, moist and not overly sugary. For a first-time contestant, it was definitely an impressive treat.
Her cupcake career does not end here. “Cupcake Camp Montreal, you will be seeing me next year!” Johnson exclaimed.
The cake (yields 12):
– 1 1/4 cups flour
– 2 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 2 eggs, at room temperature
– 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
– 1/2 cup granulated sugar
– 1/2 cup vegetable oil
– 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
– 2 rome apples (about 1 pound), peeled and shredded
1. Arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350Â°. Line a cupcake pan with baking liners.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth.
4. Next, whisk in the oil and vanilla.
5. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined
6. Stir in the apples.
7. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan until almost full.
8. Bake until golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Optional: For an added treat, once cooled, scoop a little bit off the top of your cupcake and put in a filling. Johnson used Grenache’s “ah caramel!” filling for her cupcakes.
Caramel buttercream (ices 24):
– 2 cups icing sugar
– 1 cup butter
– 1/3 cup caramel (homemade or spread)
– 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup whipping cream
1. Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about one minute
2. Lower speed to low and slowly add icing sugar so that it does not fly everywhere
3. Add caramel and vanilla, scraping down sides if needed, until incorporated
4. Add cream and whip until nice and smooth
fleur de sel topped macaron shells (yields 40)
– 4 tbsp ground almonds
– 1 pinch of salt
– egg whites from 2 large eggs
– 1/2 cup icing sugar
– 3 tbsp superfine castor sugar
– 1/4 tsp almond extract
– fleur de sel for topping (sea salt)
1. Process ground almonds, icing sugar and salt by pulsing 7 times in a food processor (or until incorporated but not pasty)
2. Whip egg whites and slowly add castor sugar and almond extract to make a strong meringue that forms peaks and is not liquidy
3. Incorporate dry ingredients to meringue using the macaronage technique
Technique: fold with spatula in one direction passing underneath mixture and folding into top middle and repeat about 50 times or until well incorporated and glossy
4. Using a piping bag with 1/2 inch beak, pipe little dollops onto a parchment covered baking sheet. drop pan against table a few times in order to get rid of air bubbles
5. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and let stand for 2 hrs or until dry and slightly firm to the touch.
6. Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes, rotating sheet half way
7. Wait until completely cool and top cupcakes!
To have a look at more of Johnson’s recipes, check out her blog at bakinginhighheels.tumblr.com