Monday, May 11, 2009

Pizza Cupcakes

As I mentioned two days ago, I'm officially placing myself in the running for the Iron Cupcake:Earth competition this month. The theme is Savory Cupcakes and I'm bringing the Pizza. Yes, I said it. Pizza.

So far, the general reaction to my icebreaker of "I made pizza cupcakes this weekend" has been silence. I believeI have found the way to steal words out of just about everyone's mouths. I didn't know it would be that easy, actually.

Now I know what you're thinking. What the...? Who would eat that? Originally, this fiasco came about when I started thinking about my friend Marcia and her unmatched passion for pizza. And then it hit me and I know, I could make that into a cupcake. At the time, I had absolutely no idea how I would do this, of course, but therein lies the fun and challenge of the competition.

I started my quest by searching for cupcakes with a tomato base. I figured what else could be the base of a pizza cupcake, right? I finally tracked down a recipe on my fellow blogger's website, Vanilla Garlic. I think he and I will be soulmates, but more about the food. He has a recipe for Tomato Soup Cupcakes. They seemed to be a good way to start off my cupcake, so I thought I'd take it and run amok. Of course, since his recipe called for cinnamon and ground cloves, I also figured I'd tweak that just a little bit...

Tomato Soup Cupcakes
  • 1 (10.75) ounce can condensed tomato soup
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon basil, dried and chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of sifted self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 30-40 thin slices of pepperoni (optional)
1) Set the butter and egg out and let them come to room temperature. Set the over to 325 degrees F (165 C).

2) Combine the tomato soup and baking soda in a bowl and let it stand. Use a deep bowl as the mixture will rise.

3) Cream the butter, sugar, and spices in bowl. Add the egg and mix for 30 seconds. Mix in the tomato soup and soda mixture. It might look funky, but don't worry.

4) Mix the flour and baking powder together, and then beat into the mixture until just combined.

5) Optional: Chop the pepperoni in a food processor. Fold the chopped pepperoni into the batter. If you're a vegetarian, feel free to skip this part. Just forget I said anything about meat.

6) Pour evenly into cupcake papers. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. The cupcakes will be soft. Let them cool.

Cheese Frosting

Equal parts of the following:
  • Garlic & Herb Spreadable Cheese (I used Laughing Cow brand, but any brand would do.)
  • Cream Cheese
  • ChoppedPepperoni for sprinking on top (optional)
1) Combine cheeses and ice the cupcakes with the resulting mix.

2) Top with chopped pepperoni. Again, this is optional, but I don't understand anyone's aversion to pepperoni. It's soooo very amazing.

The result of my endeavors was what I would call a pretty light and fluffy cupcake. It wasn't too sweet (the original recipe called for 1 cup of sugar, but I halved it in an effort to go the savory route). Also, the texture was very cake-y, which was one of the goals of this mission. I have to admit that it was definitely a more pleasant experience than I thought it would be. Yes, even I had my doubts. The taste was less like pizza and more like a tomato-flavored cupcake. Surprised? Why yes, I actually was. I expected a denser, more filling result, but I'm still happy with the result. There was a sweet and savory taste to the cupcake that kind of leaves you wanting more. Tree-huggers/vegetarians, this could be your thing.

Overall, I think I learned a lot from my first foray into the Savory Cupcake arena. A few of my observations with this recipe:

1. Don't confuse baking powder with baking soda. I accidentally attempted to "raise" the tomato soup with baking powder instead of baking soda. Uh-oh. (And yes, I know this blunder occurred at Step 2! Don't remind me.) But after adding the baking soda to the tomato soup/baking powder mixture, the final texture of the cupcake was still pretty good. If I didn't know there was an oopsie, I wouldn't have guessed it!

2. I was a little heavy handed with the herbs in this recipe. If you don't have cream cheese on hand to dilute the garlic & herb spreadable cheese, then you should decrease the basil and oregano measurements in the cupcake by 1/2 a teaspoon.

3. This recipe seems to be pretty flexible, so I could see a variation using some other type of meat (Sausage? BBQ Chicken?) or a vegetable (Green Peppers? Onions?). If someone's really creative, maybe a white pizza could be in the works. But that's a completely new cupcake.

During this entire post, I have so far neglected to mention how awesome my friends. Although I shocked a few of them with my pizza adventure, I received words of encouragement after the obligatory period of silence. Even my roommate was wondering about me...but that's nothing new I guess. In addition, a select few have agreed to take their lives in hand and become taste testers for me. Yes, I will say it again. They are all amazing. My elite Taste Squadprovided positive reviews for those of you who can only view the Pizza Cupcakes from afar:

- KL: "I am happy to eat more of them. They are a little sweet and a little savory."

- Zoo: "I want more."

- SRJ: "I could eat 50 more."

- DJ & AL went so far as to send a detailed e-mail message, so I feel that they deserve to be heard, albeit in truncated sentences:
  • Appearance: Cupcake decoration was creative and had the air of something to be served in a luxury restaurant (Wow! This is a first, kiddos!).
  • Texture: The actual cupcake part had an amazing texture, perfectly baked and nice and fluffy. AL thought the top felt a bit mushy, but they did wait a day to eat it. Additional recommendation was to maybe make the pepperoni flakes a little crispier, like bacon. (Is this a challenge for bacon cupcakes? Hmmmm....)
  • Taste: DJ thought it tasted a bit potent at first, but as the initial taste went away, she liked the amount of spice and sweetness that remained. AL liked the spiciness.
So there you go everyone. Voila le Pizza Cupcake! I think it shocked some people, but I admire that about this cupcake. The next time I make these, I will definitely incorporate feedback from the Taste Squad. But next in the pipeline is my second savory cupcake for admission into the Iron Cupcake competition....You'll just have to wait to see it!