Don't you find it quite amusing how things seem to have their own ways of presenting itself?
I do, most especially with the Daring Baker's challenge for the month of September. Just to let you know, I have been wanting to try making a tres leches cake for a while now. It is one of those recipes that is always at the back of your mind but never seem to find the appropriate occasion or a good enough reason to actually start making it.
One of the few things I love about Daring Baker's Challenges is due to the fact that not only do you learn and try something new every month but in my case, they seem to always give me a good reason to finally make the recipes that I normally just stash and admire.
Here in the Philippines we have this Chinese dessert that makes use of taro, coconut milk and tapioca to create a delicious dessert soup. It was because of this dessert that made me discover my taste buds' liking for taro. I personally like the combination of coconut milk and taro so I wanted to capture the flavor and translate it into one of the most crazed baking goods currently running, "cupcakes".
This challenge worked perfectly for my idea because tres leches makes use of milk as its' soaking syrup and flavoring similarly to a tiramisu that makes use of an espresso soaking liquid to its' sponge. I wanted to let the taro come out and I have tried integrating the taro into the cake batter before with no success of highlighting the taro so I decided to use it as a cream instead. I flavored my sponge cake with the coconut milk syrup and made a taro whipped cream so that when you bite the cupcake with the cream it would give you the same taste as the taro soup dessert.
I didn't put any food coloring which is why the color looks a little pale or dull. Feel free to add a purple coloring to make it more vibrant but despite the pale coloring of frosting, I was happy with the result. You can really taste the taro flavor and it is not cloyingly sweet. At first, I thought the sponge was dry and hard but after adding the coconut milk syrup and letting it rest overnight. It came out moist and soft the following day.
The coconut milk syrup will have a lot of left overs so you can just half the recipe of the coconut milk syrup for the same quantity of cupcakes.
Makes 23 cupcakes
For the coconut milk syrup
- 1 can /400 g sweetened condensed milk
- 1 can /340 g coconut milk
- 1 cup heavy cream (about 35% fat)
For the cupcake
- 5 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 1 cup / 140g all-purpose flour, sifted
- 5 large egg whites
- ½ cup / 125 g sugar
For the whipped cream
- 260 g cooked taro(steam or boil until fork tender)
- 3 Tblespoon coconut milk(add more if needed)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
- 5 tsp water
- 1 tsp sugar
For the coconut milk syrup
In a saucepan add the sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk and heavy cream. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and continue boiling for 5 minutes. Remove and let it cool.
For the cupcakes
Preheat oven to 150°C or 300°F. Prepare 2 - 12 pcs serving cupcake pan. Line the cupcake pans with cupcake paper liners.
In a medium bowl using a stand up mixer, beat egg yolks at medium-high speed for around 5-6 minutes, or until the egg yolks become pale or lemon colored. Stir in vanilla and set aside
Beat the egg whites on medium speed for 3 - 5 minutes until soft peaks form, slowly add the sugar in small batches.
Continue whipping until stiff peaks form about 5 minutes.
Pour 1/3 of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, mix until combined. Then add the remaining 2/3 and gently fold until only a few streaks of egg whites remain. Fold in the flour little by little in the form of rain. Mix until just combined taking care not to over mix (You will know once it is over mixed when the batter seems to be separating)
Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake pans. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool
Once cool poke holes using a fork all over the cake to better absorb the three milk soaking liquid. I personally used an injection for this process because I find it easier and I am able to control the amount of soaking liquid that goes into each cupcake, I also get to spread the milk all over the cupcake. Pour around 10 Tablespoons of coconut syrup per cupcake. Take note to gently apply pressure to the cupcake to know whether you need to add more syrup.
For the taro cream
Using a food processor ot blender, whirr the fork tender taro with the coconut milk until smooth and the consistency is like a very thick avocado shake. It's okay to add more coconut milk if the mixture seem to be a little dry and it doesn't seem to be moving. Place in a medium bowl and set aside.
Pour the gelatin powder thinly in the surface of water, let it bloom for 5 minutes. Place gelatin mixture in a shallow pan containing 1 inch of simmering water and melt until it looks like soup. let it cool.
Whip heavy cream using a whisk attachment until it reaches stiff peaks. Add cooled gelatin mixture and mix until combined. Mix 1/3 of the whipped cream to the taro until the taro becomes lightened. Fold in gently the remaining 2/3 of the whipped cream until homogenous. Chill until ready to pipe.
Adapted from Daring Baker's Kitchen