Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Kaffir Lime Ganache

Friday, May 18, 2007

Recently, a few of us Sac food bloggers were interviewed for an article in the Sacramento Bee (which will be in the Taste Section next Wednesday, May 23). It was fun to do the interview with Bob Sylva and I can't wait to see what he wrote. But the other part of the article was we all were photographed by Kevin German, a very talented and fun photographer (who let me use his light box canvas thingy to take this picture, thanks Kevin!).

David asked us all to maybe have something cooked up for the photo, so how could I not do cupcakes? I had been wanting to do a vanilla bean cupcake - this is Vanilla Garlic after all - and decided to pair it with another heady perfumed ingredient, kaffir lime; mixed delicately in a high percentage cacao ganache.

Both the vanilla and kaffir lime flavors are porcelain delicate, so steeping them for an extended period of time is really key here so the can be fully recognized. The vanilla is sweet and fragrant, and kaffir lime aromatic and exotic; they meld together very well. It's not a flavor that stands up and strikes you in the face, but rather makes its appearance subtly, like seeing something out of the corner of your eye just as it disappears.

This is a fragrant cupcake that's easy to put together. The kaffir lime leaves and vanilla beans may put you off as procuring them may prove to be a possible determent for some, but if you know where to find them (i.e. Whole Foods, World Market, Asian markets) you shouldn't have a problem and can snag them for cheap.

Update: MY GOD, these are so insanely shibby-tasty after the flavors meld after sitting in the fridge, then letting them come to room temp!

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes / 350 F oven

What You'll Need...

1/2 cup of butter, room temperature

1 1/3 cup of sugar

1 egg, room temperature

1 vanilla bean

3/4 cup of milk

2 1/4 cups of flour

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of baking powder

pinch of kosher salt

What You'll Do...
1) Cut the vanilla bean length wise and scrape the seeds out and place into a sauce pan with the milk. Heat milk until it just begins to bubble around the edges. Take off the heat and let sit for 4 hours or longer in the fridge.

2) Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and cream for about 2 minutes.
3) Sift the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder together.

4) Add some of the flour and mix, then some of the vanilla milk, then continue to alternate the dry and wet ingredients, ending with the dry. Mix until just combined.

5) Scoop into cupcake papers and bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Kaffir Lime Ganache
What You'll Need...
kaffir lime leaves (about 7 for flavor and garnish)

1 cup of heavy cream

8 ounces of chocolate (premium quality is best)

What You'll Do...

1) Chop and bruise up a few of the kaffir lime leaves. Place the cream and kaffir in a bowl, and let sit for two hours.
2) Break up the chocolate and place in a heat proof bowl.
3) Heat the cream and leaves in a saucepan and heat at medium high until small bubbles form along the rim. Pour through a mesh sieve to catch the leaves as the cream pours over the chocolate. Let sit for one minute.
4) Mix together till smooth, uniform, and silky. Let cool a bit. Dip and swirl the cupcake domes into the ganache. Shake off the excess. Decorate with the slivers of kaffir leaves and let stand to dry.


  1. So lovely, Garrett. I just tried your coconut cupcake with a tweak, it was really good!

  2. That cupcake is so beautiful with its smooth ganache icing. Another great job.

  3. Hey! I can't wait to see the article. What is the subject? Food blogging in general? Did you mention your fabulous network of food geeks online? ; )

  4. I can't wait to see you all there! ;-))
    this pic is somenthing. I love the colors..

  5. Absolutely gorgeous- and congratulations to you guys!!! :)

  6. hi, Thanks a lot for dropping by my blog and letting me know about your lovely blog full of lovely food and info. first time I hear about kaffir leaves. where do we usually find them? lovely looking cupcake.

  7. I swear Garrett you always read my mind. today while at the market i stood standing at a pack of kaffir lime leaves for 3 minutes and kept wondering what i'd do if i bought them. hah, guess i know now!=)

  8. Garrett.
    I know people have told you this many times but I will add to your embarrassment. You write so well and you often make me laugh out loud.
    Eat Beast was my favourite post (and Freddie's too)
    He often asks "Has the Cupcake man from Sacramento written something new to read?"

  9. CHarlotte - aww, thanks a ton! That's so sweet! :)

  10. I love all your pictures Garret. What kind of camera do you use?

  11. just when my doc has told me to reduce weight i stumbled upon ur blog. this so unfair!!!
    thanks for dropping a line in my blog and leading me to urs garette... its gonna take one helluva of will power to stay away from ur yummy blog:)

  12. the cupcake looks so delicious with the smooth icing. And that tea looks good too, can't wait to try it. :)

  13. The cupcakes look luscious. Where did you find fresh Kaffir lime leaves? I've been trying to find dried ones for Thai curry to no avail. I'd love to try your ganache, if I can find the leaves.

  14. Teresa - I got them in the fresh produce section at Whole Foods Market. I don't think you ever buy them dried, only fresh.


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