Friday, 18 April 2008

a delicious combination of flavours...palm sugar cupcakes with vanilla rice pudding

so there has been this bag of palm sugar sitting in our cupboard for ages (because i think hubby bought it to use in an asian dish and just never did) and every time i open the cupboard i see it looking like little bee hives sitting in there patiently waiting to be turned into something scrumptious! it just also happened that i discovered that the Sugar High Friday food event was having Asian Sweet Invasion as their theme so it seemed right to do something with palm sugar.

what is palm sugar i hear you ask? well according to the great wikipedia...

Palm sugar was originally made from the sugary sap of the Palmyra palm or the date palm. Now it is also made from the sap of the sago and coconut palms and may be sold as "coconut sugar." The sugar is a golden brown paste, sold in tubes, blocks or tin cans. It may be light-coloured or dark, soft and gooey or hard. As a lightly-processed product of cottage industry, it varies greatly from batch to batch.

so, i searched around trying to find a recipe out there already for palm sugar cupcakes. but couldn't find one to my liking. got my baking cap on and thought about how i wanted it all to fit together. so basically, what i did was i just replaced my usual amount of sugar with palm sugar and added coconut milk instead of regular milk to enhance the 'asian' flavour of this combination. it seemed to work pretty well, because they smelled great when they came out of the oven and had this lovely golden brown colour to them that i had been hoping for.

then i needed to think about what to put on top? i felt like a change from regular icing and had seen this packet of arborio rice lying at the bottom of another cupboard (i swear that my mum's kitchen is like this treasure trove of undiscovered ingredients. one only has to seek and they shall discover a plethora of goodies to inspire baking hands!) so i thought that it might be interesting to make a vanilla rice pudding with the rice and put it on top of the cupcakes. the arborio rice was really easy to cook with. first you had to boil it in water until all liquid had been absorbed...

then, add the cooked rice to a saucepan of milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. the recipe i found did say vanilla extract but i found (yet again!) a vanilla pod lurking with intent and thought...that's going to make it taste SO much better!

after boiling it until almost all liquid was absorbed, i left it to cool and then began the filling up of each and every glorious cupcake! when each one had been 'stuffed' i sprinkled with some nutmeg (my grandma ALWAYS put nutmeg in her baked rice pudding and for me rice pudding just isn't the same without it!)

then came the moment of truth...the TASTE test! yes, i always allow myself one cupcake of every batch i make because i need to be able to judge the taste, consistency, texture, etc. otherwise how can i compare? well, this one i think is probably one of my favourites in the taste department. the flavours went so well together i was so pleased. there was this lovely almost burnt sugar taste of the cupcake that palm sugar often gives off (that's not a great description but hopefully you get what i mean here!) that contrasted so well with the sweet, creaminess of the vanilla rice pudding. i really couldn't have asked for anything better. just adored it! this would be a perfect choice for an asian dinner party because the flavours are not too strong of ginger or cardamom but still exotic and a joy to eat with the different textures of the spongey cupcake and the creamy rice pudding. i am, of course, seriously considering another one of these!

and the recipe...

Palm Sugar Cupcakes

1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
200 g palm sugar, grated
2 eggs
1/2 c. butter
2/3 c. coconut milk
1 t. vanilla extract

preheat your oven to usual temperature. line your cupcake pan.
in a mixer, beat butter and palm sugar until light and fluffy (note : this will not be the same texture as when you use regular sugar)
add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
combine coconut milk and vanilla together.
sift flour, baking soda and salt together and add to the batter alternating with coconut milk mixture until fully incorporate.
spoon batter into cupcake cases and bake for 20 mins. cool on a wire rack.

Vanilla Rice Pudding

1 c. water
pinch of salt
1/2 T. butter
1/2 c. arborio rice
2 c. milk
4 T. sugar
1 t. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod
few dashes of ground cinnamon

bring water, salt and butter to the boil in a saucepan. add rice and return to the boil. reduce heat and using the lowest setting, cook the rice until rice has absorbed the water but is still al dente - about 15 mins.
bring milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon to a simmer in a separate saucepan. add cooked rice and simmer over medium-low heat until rice absorbs most of the milk and mixture starts to get thick and silky - about 15 mins.
transfer to a bowl to cool.

Assembly

using the cone method cut out a section from each cupcake, scooping out more cake if necessary. trim the top. fill each hole with the rice pudding and replace the top or put to one side. sprinkle with nutmeg.

i'm also going top enter this for Master Baker's event this month - where the special ingredient is vanilla. perfect!

16 comments:

Lorraine E said...

They look lovely-I adore rice pudding! I am baking mine for the SHF event today. A bit last minute but work got in the way unfortunately :(

The palm sugar swirls are so cute. Ours comes in round blocks, not as cute.

Blog Princess said...

You are SOOO creative, I love it!!!

Rachel@fairycakeheaven said...

oooooooooooooo lovely!!! am a GIANT rice pudding fan so these sound like heaven!

the AIRY FAIRY said...

hey lorraine...ya when i was living in asia, they were sold in round blocks too, so i was pleasantly surprised when i saw these ones. good luck with your entry!

hi blog princess...thank you...it's almost one year since i started this blog and i feel i get more and more inspired as the weeks go on. so fun!

hi rachel, me too! i LOVE rice pudding but would normally make it as a baked pudding (recipe passed down by my grandma) this is the first time i've made it in the saucepan and it was delicious!

Rachel@fairycakeheaven said...

I've never tried baked rice pudding, must look for a recipe!

Tagged you aswell, drop over to my blog if you get a chance

nipsum said...

How do you do.
I hope to see blog.
Please link to this site.

Aimée said...

Hooray for cupcakes! Delightful blog, I'll be back...

the AIRY FAIRY said...

rachel - baked rice pudding is da bomb!!!! the recipe i have is an old one handed down from generation to generation. i learnt it from my grandma. it's very very good! i'm more than happy to share so drop me your email if ya want it!

hi aimee, thanks for dropping by...pls do come back :)

The Caked Crusader said...

What an interesting idea! I'd never have thought of putting cupcakes and rice pudding together - but I like it! It's like 2 for the price of 1
Very clever

Stef said...

I love the idea of rice pudding in a cupcake. Sounds fabulous!

the AIRY FAIRY said...

hi caked crusader, i thought the combination of flavours and textures would work really well and they did. the rice pudding was especially yummy!

hi stef, thanks, it was fabulous! i'd definitely make the rice pudding again just to eat a nice bowl of it...rich and creamy!

gail said...

interesting, rice in a cupcake. I'm in the Philippines and we're a fan of rice, we have it 3 times a day.

so i must give your recipe a try. incase i dont find plum sugar can i replace it with a regular brown sugar?

the AIRY FAIRY said...

hi gail, you could definitely replace the palm sugar with brown sugar. that wouldn't be a problem. let me know how they turn out for you :)

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

FANTASTIC! What a unique idea. And I loooooove rice pudding!

the AIRY FAIRY said...

hey how to eat a cupcake...me too, me too! i grew up with my nana's rice pudding...it was the best ever - her secret recipe handed down from one generation to another! not sure what she would have thought of this creamier version...hers was baked.

Sophie said...

This is great~I love it when cupcakes have a special surprise inside. This is a unique recipe worth holding on to! Thanks for sharing :).