Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Vanilla Strawberry Pomegranate Cupcakes - My Beautiful Disaster

I should have known this particular Iron Cupcake project was doomed the moment I saw June's theme: Summer Berries.

For those of you who don't know me, there are few fresh fruits that I will gladly eat. Of these, summer berries are not even within the vicinity. It's not that I don't like berry flavors. I actually love them, but we're talking about two different things. Berry flavors? Yes, please. Berry fruits? Next! At the very least the berries would need to be cooked/baked/fried/boiled/whatever...

But in the spirit of competition, I decided to let my creative juices flow and embrace the berries. I started thinking. What other fruits do I like? Well, I like pomegranates. That's a fresh fruit on my "nice" list. And I remembered my friend Katrin was grilling me about vanilla cupcakes last week, so it might be interesting to incorporate a vanilla flavor into the cupcake. Le voila! Witness the birth of the Vanilla Strawberry Pomegranate cupcakes!

I began to get super-excited. I found a Strawberry Banana recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Cupcake Project. Then I went out and bought the prettiest strawberries I could find, a container of real vanilla beans, and a super sweet bottle of pomegranate juice. Who knew it would be difficult to find real pomegranates in June? Nonetheless, I was armed and ready to go! (Disclaimer: My cooking adventure was not doomed due to the CP recipe. The reason(s) will become apparent in time. Keep reading.)

The recipe called for macerated strawberries, which I had absolutely no idea how to do. But with a few minutes of research on the web, Alton Brown quickly set me straight. Macerating fruit is pretty much the equivalent of marinating meat. And red wine was involved so how could I say no?

After a few hours of macerating the strawberries, I was ready to attack the cupcakes. I whipped up the batter according to the instructions, stopping short of adding the fruit. Then I went to work on personalizing the cupcakes. Sadly, it is at this point that things take a turn for the worse...

I added the strawberries, half of the leftover macerating liquid, 2 cups of pomegranate juice and the vanilla beans to the batter. I know, I know...you must all be cringing at that sentence. I kept trying to taste more pomegranate flavor in the batter, and somewhere along the line I just went hog wild with the pom juice. Again, my cupcakes sank when they came out of the oven. And to add insult to injury, they were also a little gooey :(

Another attempt to save the cupcakes came in the form of Buttercream Icing. Even pumped up with the remainder of the macerating liquid and a few teaspoons of pomegranate juice, let's just say I still somehow missed the mark on this. The icing was too sweet and not stiff enough.

My friends were really nice and ate the test cupcakes without (much) complaint. KL agreed that the icing was very runny and too sweet, but she will still remain my roommate. Zoo attempted to eat the cupcake on Day 2, which she says was much better cold. SRJ took a cuppie for the road, as his high school band teacher duties required him to turn in earlier than most. We will place that review on hold.

As you have probably figured out by now, I am not going to post this customized recipe. Why? Because so much seemed to go wrong that I wouldn't wish this particular cupcake on anyone else.

So now you're most likely asking yourself why I'm posting this massive failure for the general population to read at all. Well, friends, let's just say that we all learn from our mistakes. I know there is someone out there reading this who has thought or will think about pouring 2 extra cups of liquid into cake or cupcake batter. I am here to tell you that this is probably not a good idea. Also, I did take what I believe to be some really pretty pictures (loved the macerated strawberries!) and I wanted to show them off. I'm still planning on making interesting creations in the near future, but maybe I'll try to stick a little closer to the actual recipe next time.


  1. you should reduce the liquid! slow cook it for 2-4 hours to reduce it, then fold it in as a Pom/strawberry flavored ripple.


  2. Yes. I know this now, unfortunately. But the ripple idea sounds pretty cool. I'll have to experiment in the future. Yay for flops, because now I have nowhere to go but up!

  3. My name moonlights on the blog and I don't even get to taste the result... bummer... got to start trekking to NJ!!

  4. Sorry. Not too many people got to eat those cupcakes. Zoo, Kimmy, and SRJ just happened to be around when I was making them. I ditched the remainder of the evidence after the initial tasting. I'll be trying this again though! With alterations, of course!