Ladies and gentlemen, never fear, I am still here! That’s right. Despite my current travels, you still can’t get rid of me. In fact, you’ll be getting double-whammied in the next few weeks with bucket list posts AND road trip foodie finds. So, basically, get ready for some rumbly tummies.
This week, I bring to you cherry and blueberry pie. But, not really. If you look close, these aren’t pies at all, but cupcakes! In my first blog, I made another dessert imposter cupcake, which took the form of a hamburger. Seeing as how summer is still in it’s prime, and berries are in season and super tasty this time of year, I decided to stick with the picnic food theme.
You can really pick any kind of “pie” cupcake to make, but since the round candies on the top look like berries, and there are only so many berries out there, I went with cherry and blueberry. But, you could pick green or yellow and do a key lime or lemon merengue “pie” too! (Oh God, I need to stop giving myself ideas…) For my particular berries… aka M&Ms, I was lucky enough to have this project come at the tail end of the July 4th season. This meant that not only did some stores still have bags of the red, white and blue M&Ms, BUT they were on sale too! For those of you who may not be quite as lucky, there are plenty of candy stores out there that sell individually colored M&Ms by the pound, or Party City sells them in pre-sealed bags. Either way, this is a totally doable project!
You can also decide how homemade you want to go with this one. You can make your own cupcakes, and fill it with your own pie filling and top it with your own buttercream. OR, you can start with boxed cupcakes, canned filling (or none at all) and some canned buttercream which you mix some cinnamon into. And while I tend to go with the first option more often, these imposters are so cute that no one is really thinking about the homemade tastes as much as they are thinking about the creative decorating. So basically, you have no excuse not to try these out! My recipe is below, but remember, you can make this as easy or challenging as you choose.
Let’s get baking! To start, either buy or make your favorite vanilla cupcake. Personally, I stuck with the tried and true Yellow Cupcakes from Sally’s Baking Addiction. This recipe involves four stages: whipping egg whites, combining dry ingredients, combining most of the wet ingredients, and then incorporating the dry into the wet in stages with milk. A tip for those of you using this recipe… when she says fill the tins half way full, she isn’t messing around. Don’t be cocky and say, “I’ll just fill it more and get a bigger cupcake…” like I did. You (and I) would be wrong. Dead wrong. Really, you just get an overfilled cavity which causes overflowing, undercooking, and a pancake-looking top of your cupcakes. (I wouldn’t know this from experience or anything.) Oh, and if there is any liquid that sinks to the bottom of your foamy egg whites, don’t fold that in at the end, because then the batter will have too much moisture…which will also contribute to that pancake cupcake top I was referring to earlier. Eventually, after a try (or two), you should end up with a dozen and a half vanilla cupcakes!
On to the pie parts! Next, you can make your filling. This is so simple. And don’t just think this process applies to these cupcakes. You can literally do this with any fruit for any pie you make in the future. All you do is choose a fruit, and combine it with sugar over low heat until the sugar melts. Meanwhile, mix together your water and cornstarch. The cornstarch is going to be the thickener for the fruit filling. Add the cornstarch mix to the fruit and cook over medium heat until thick, stirring every once and a while. If you’re looking for a less lumpy filling, use a masher to break down the fruit once it’s started to thicken. Once it’s the consistency of pie filling, take it off that heat, mix in your spices and small amount of butter, and cool it down in whichever your heart desires. Fridge? Sure. Counter? Sure. Blowing on it until it’s room temperature? Sure, I guess.
To assemble, everything is going to need to be room temperature. For reals. No cheating here. To help you pass the time, make some cinnamon buttercream. Now, I say cinnamon because I think it goes well with the vanilla and berries, but you could really go with any flavoring that turns the frosting brown-ish. Chocolate, peanut butter, the sky’s the limit. Essentially though, to make any buttercream, you’re going to whip down your butter, then add your sugar, milk and vanilla. Beat that until it’s smooth and creamy, which actually takes a little longer than you would think. At least three or four minutes. Confession time: I cut the corner here at first, and ended up with split buttercream. So, be patient, will you?!
Okay people, the moment you’ve been waiting for. Time to make the pies! I mean…cupcakes. First, core the cupcakes using a melon baller or small spoon. Scoop a small amount of pie filling into the hole and replace the little cap you took off the top.
Next, frost a thin layer of the buttercream on top of each cupcake. Just enough for the berry M&Ms to stick to. Once you have frosted cakes, you can top them with the M&Ms. I tried to place them all close to each other with a little overlap to give it more of a 3D effect.
Next up, you’ll be making a lattice design that would make any pie making granny proud. Scoop a third or so of your remaining buttercream into a piping bag with a small circle tip and drag the frosting in lines over the cupcake in one direction before rotating the cake and making lines in the other direction.
Last but not least, make that crust. Arguably the best part of the pie in my opinion. For this, I used a star tip and made a shaggy kind of design along the perimeter with the rest of my buttercream. But, really, you can pipe any kind of design you want, as long as it sticks out a little and covers the perimeter of the pies.
And, there you have it: Berry Pie Imposters! Cute, surprisingly simple, and summer fruit filled. Which makes it super healthy, right? Right.
Make sure you take a peek back in the next few days and weeks for road trip updates, more recipes, and fantastic foodie adventures in general. Meanwhile, I’ll just be eating my way down the East Coast, so that you don’t have to. You’re welcome folks, you’re welcome.