Happy Valentino Day! Cupcakes were doing cartwheels in my dreams last night. Spring has come a little too early this year here. Just outside my window, baby birds are chirping in the mornings and the branches of nearby lemon trees are dotted with delicate white blossoms. The pretty purple hyacinths Mom planted among the roses in our front garden have already popped their heads out of the soil and fill the air with their sweet perfume.
Purple is the new colour of love. During the ancient Roman Empire, it was reserved exclusively for royalty. It is modest, rich and very elegant. And Daisy’s favourite. Purple is also the colour of the lovely yams a friend brought me recently. I had never had purple yams before and scoured online to see what I could do with them.
A starchy root vegetable with a lavender flesh and sweet flavour, purple yams are favoured in Philipino desserts. While commonly incorporated into the batter of the cake, it makes a more striking statement in the frosting. Decadently dense and creamy, this frosting only seems wicked. A few drops of rose water bring out the subtle fragrant sweetness of the yam. Because there are no evil ingredients, you can pile it on and enjoy without any guilt.
Purple yam gets along famously with its tropical cousin, the pineapple. My go-to favourite for cakes is a simple buttery recipe. I know all the measurements by heart. It is so easy to make and bakes beautifully as a bundt, layer-cake or dainty little cupcakes. Fresh pineapple adds a delicious sweetness and makes the cake light and moist.
Purple Heart Cupcakes
Makes about 15
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup fresh pineapple cut into small (1/4-inch) cubes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 medium purple yams
3 Tb powdered sugar
2 Tb vegetable oil
1/2 tsp rose water
Boil purple yams until fork tender. Cool, then peel.
Using a food processor, blend with powdered sugar, oil and rose water until creamy.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Cut the head and bottom of the pineapple. Tracing the blade along the yellow flesh,
slice the thorny outer layer off, working around the fruit.
The center is tough and inedible. Cut around the center. Store half of the pineapple a plastic bag in the fridge for use later in a salad or mai tai!
Chop the other half into small cubes, about 1/4-inch each.
Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg.
Incorporate salt, flour and baking powdered until just incorporated. Do not overwork
Using a wooden spoon, gently add the pineapple cubes and mix into the batter until nicely coated.
Line a cupcake pan with paper liners and fill each about 3/4 with batter.
Bake 15-20 minutes, until you can smell the cupcakes and a toothpick inserted into the center
comes out clean.
Transfer to a wire rack for cooling.
Finish with a generous slather of the purple yam frosting and sprinkle decorative edible stars on top.
Shawn treated both of us to stunning flower arrangements and thoughtful greeting cards, my favourite part of any gift I get from him. Daisy’s card had a crown that he assembled for his little princess.
I was spoiled, as always, with a large carrara marble pastry board and a kitchen torch that has an adjustable flame. There have been ideas of toasting meringue toppings for things on my mind lately. Not sure I can be trusted with fire, but as my hair is still quite short, the fire department can relax.
If you are looking for the perfect last-minute gift tonight, bring the double happiness of purple yams and pineapples together. But, ditch the can and grab a fresh pineapple, because nothing says love than something homemade using the freshest ingredients. It’s easy to treat your sweetie like royalty with these Purple Heart Cupcakes.