I have a confession to make. I can be a bit lazy when it comes to ingredients. If a recipe uses an ingredient that I tend not to keep in stock, I'll often choose to block it out as a potential for my repertoire, or find a common substitute for the ingredient. One of the big ones here is Creme Fraiche, which I have never, ever had in my fridge. I'll often substitute strained plain yogurt. As I continue to spend more time expanding my food experience, I intend to shy away from this poor and limiting behavior. Part of confessing this here is accountability. You know my guilty secret now, and that should be enough to shame me into fixing it.
When I saw Buttermilk at the store for $1.89, I grabbed it immediately and decided now.... now would be the time that I would recovery from my silliness and make myself something with Buttermilk in it. I'm always scared of buying Buttermilk because it comes in such big containers and I worry that I won't be able to use it all before it goes bad. In the name of progress and blogging accountability, I now have Buttermilk in the fridge. No more mixing milk or cream with lemon juice and letting it sit a little.
So what to do with it? When we were in San Diego I had the most amazing Gelato. I couldn't shake how much I loved the Dark Chocolate and Orange taste. I wanted more of that, but that didn't exactly scream Buttermilk to me. These days, when you don't know where to put a flavor, it seems the easiest thing to do is to just throw it on a cupcake. I needed a plain vanilla base cupcake recipe anyway, and Buttermilk definitely adds a moistness, which is my chief complaint with cupcakes, so I did a little research and then hit up the kitchen. Twice. And here I have what I consider a strong success. A great basic cupcake recipe for tweaking, and a way to get that yummy chocolate orange combination that I've been craving.
Score one to me for the being willing to explore new ingredients. And now I'm going to score two, because I'm going to make my own Creme Fraiche.
So, what else have I missed by avoiding Buttermilk?
Buttermilk Cupcakes with Orange Zest and Chocolate Ganache
These cupcakes need to come out very moist, so be super careful not to overcook them. Also, sift your flour, even if you are the kind of person that never sifts it. Make an exception here. Use large eggs, not extra large or jumbo else the cupcake will be too rubbery. If you only have extra large, beat them in a bowl before adding them and remove a teaspoon.
For the Cupcakes
6 Tablespoons Butter, at room temperature
1 Cup White Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Cups All Purpose Flower
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Buttermilk
Zest of one small Orange
For the Ganache
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
5oz Good Dark Chcolate
Zest of one small Orange
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12 Cup Muffin pan with paper muffin cups, or heavily butter the individual cups.
Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs and vanilla, then the buttermilk and orange zest, then the dry ingredients, sifted. Mix until just combined, try not to overmix the batter.
Pour the batter into the muffin cups. You'll be using about 1/4 Cup of batter for each one. Bakes for about 21 minutes, but keep a close eye after 18 minutes. You want the cupcakes cooked until the top just springs back. Keep a watchful eye!
When the cupcakes have baked, set them aside to cool. When they are close to being cooled or room temperature, make the ganache.
Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium to low heat until it is just simmering. Put the orange zest and and chocolate in a wide heatproof bowl. Pour the hot cream over it and let it sit for a a minute or two, then gently stir the mixture to combine. The heat from the cream should melt the chocolate entirely. When it is mixed all the way, take a cupcake, hold it upside-down, and then dip the top in the ganache, making sure it is all coated, and giving it a little twist as you raise it out. Then let them sit and cool. You'll likely have extra ganache which will store well in the freezer, or you can chill it and roll it into truffles.
Makes 12 Cupcakes.