This might be a post about cupcakes. Or, it could just as easily be a post about when to value balance and when to throw discretion to the wind.
I am not exactly an expert on balance. I tend to oscillate between not caring the tiniest little bit or caring with all of my heart, mind, and body until empathy and passion literally rush through my veins. I am often very leery to love things because I know that if I take the smallest step forward I will be opening myself up for a fight I never seem to win.
When I do care, everything is over-the-top, all-consuming, and usually, my plans work out in a pretty impressive way. But, the suffering of my body, home, and other relationships are the costs unseen.
I am trying hard right now to find a balance between these two extremes. There are some things I want right now, but my reflexes to either push them out of my mind entirely, or spend every waking minute striving and grasping are not producing the kind of living I know I should work towards.
So, as I run towards this illusive sweet spot of desire without desperation, I would like to share with you one of the moments where I showed no reticence whatsoever, threw balance to the breeze, and had it all in the most audaciously delicious way.
I shoved a whole breakfast into a cupcake and I’m proud of it.
When I was a tiny little OCD monster in the making and could not tolerate my food items touching each other on my dinner plate my grandmother would try to sooth me with the words “it’s all going to the same place, honey!”
Yeah, like that argument would stand up under strain. Honestly, who would want their roasted chicken mixed with berry pie? NoThankYou.
However, I am taking a page from her book for these cupcakes.
My favorite breakfast trio is pastry, fruit, and a cup of something steaming, and that is just the formula I used when dreaming up these cupcakes.
The yellow cake is ribboned with a traditional coffee cake cinnamon-sugar filling, nodding to one of the most favored breakfast pastries, studded with blueberries - one of my favorite warm-weather fruits, and topped off with a cup of espresso, espresso buttercream, that is.
I was hesitant at first, wondering if this creation would end up being one of those instances of things looking better on paper than in reality, but thankfully, they were even better.
The only “specialty” ingredient here is espresso powder. I have a hard time finding it in stores, but, like everything else, it’s easy to find online!
I really want to try this buttercream on a chocolate layer cake…but that’s another day.
Every single part of these cupcakes is perfection itself, but the best part, is that, being solely inspired by breakfast offerings, they totally count as breakfast!
I am still fine tuning my equation of reckless enthusiasm to self-care and rest, but for now I’ll work with what I have, and eating cake for breakfast sounds like the perfect balance to me.
Blueberry Coffee Cake Cupcakes with Espresso Swiss Buttercream
makes 16 cupcakes
for the cupcakes
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup cake flour
1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blueberries, plus extra for garnishing
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place butter and sugar in the work bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes; until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until the mixture is smooth.
In a separate bowl, whisk together cake flour, 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, and baking powder. Stir together milk and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.
With your mixer on low speed, add the dry mixture in increments, alternating with additions of the milk mixture. Once all the ingredients have been incorporated, beat for 1 minute more; until the batter is very smooth.
In a separate bowl, toss together remaining 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and the blueberries, being sure to coat all the berries thoroughly.
Fold the coated berries into the cake batter.
Stir together ground cinnamon and brown sugar; set aside.
Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and fill each cup halfway with batter. Sprinkle with a layer of the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture, then top with another spoonful of batter, spreading it a bit to cover the cinnamon layer.
Bake for 25-30 minutes; until the cupcakes are deep golden and spring back when tapped lightly.
Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.
In the meantime, prepare the buttercream.
for the buttercream
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large egg whites
pinch of kosher salt
16 ounces unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 tablespoons espresso powder
Fill a 2-quart saucepan with about an inch of water and place over high heat; bring to a simmer.
Combine granulated sugar, egg whites, and sea salt in the bowl of your stand mixer.*
Cook's Note: Wipe the bowl clean with a damp paper towel and dry thoroughly before using.
Place the mixing bowl over the pan of simmering water, being sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.
Warm, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. An instant-read thermometer is essential here.
Return the bowl to your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form. This will take a while, but do not rush this step.
Cook's Note: As the mixture whips, it will cool down, preparing it to accept rather than melt the coming butter.
Reduce the speed to medium high and begin adding the butter, about 1 tablespoon at a time. Make sure each addition of butter is thoroughly incorporated before adding the next piece.
Cook's Note: If the butter begins to melt, this is a sign that the mixture is too warm. Simply stop mixing, and transfer the bowl to the refrigerator. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes, until the mixture is cool and stiff. Beat for 1 minute to loosen the buttercream before continuing with the remaining additions of butter.
After all the butter has been incorporated, mix in espresso powder.
Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag.
Frost the cupcakes and top each with a blueberry, if desired.
If refrigerated, the cupcakes will last several days.