Peaches are one of the fruits that I actually enjoy waiting for each year. I never buy them in the winter, preferring instead to wait for that summer day when they are fresh and juicy and perfectly ripe so that when you bite into them they run down your arm. I’ve been picking them up from the farmer’s market by my work on Tuesdays and enjoying them for an afternoon snack. But that’s certainly not the only way to enjoy a delicious peach. Not at all.
Pies are wonderful, and cobblers and gallettes, of course, but I’m a cupcake girl so why not try a peach cupcake? These turned out quite well….moist and on the spongier side, though the juiceness of the fruit and the fact that you’re getting little bursts of actual peach every few bites sort of screws with the cake texture. Not in a bad way….just a bit more dense in spots. Think muffin versus cake.
And then there is the frosting. A pound of mascarpone, a cup of heavy cream. Need I say more? Yet, for all that richness, this frosting is feather light and only just sweet enough. This would be absolutely delightful in its virgin state of cheese, cream and sugar but, as you may have noticed last year, I just love the fresh taste of basil to complement peaches. Plus, I made a basil-infused frosting last summer and the JiT has mentioned it on more than one occasion recently. I took it as a sign. So, the cream gets infused with a hearty handful of fresh basil leaves. This sounds much more difficult than it actually is. Just combine in a saucepan, leave on the stove for a few minutes to simmer, set aside to cool, strain out the basil and chill. The end result is a feather-light frosting infused with the slightest hint of fresh herb flavor. Just enough to make your mouth think it over.
The frosting recipe is generous. You can halve it and you’ll probably have more than enough for the cupcakes. Or make the full batch and top the leftovers with fresh berries. Delightful.
Fresh Peach Cupcakes with Basil-Infused Mascarpone Frosting
Adapted from How To Eat A Cupcake
Makes 22 regular-sized cupcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp freshly grated orange zest (zest from about half an orange)
3/4 cup milk
2 fresh peaches, skinned, cored and diced to small pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 22 muffin cups with cupcake liners and set aside.
In a small bowl, sift together flours, baking powder and nutmeg. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to mix butter and sugar until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition until the mixture is fluffy. Add vanilla and orange zest.
Add a third of the flour to the butter mixture and mix to combine. Follow with half of the milk, then another third of flour, the rest of the milk and end with the last third of flour. Mix a few more times until the batter is smooth. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the peaches.
Divide batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling each about 2/3 full. I had just enough for 22 cupcakes that baked up to just about fill the liners. For bigger cupcakes, fill each liner a bit higher but you’ll have fewer cupcakes.
Bake in the center of your oven for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in each cupcake comes out clean. Move cupcakes to a baking rack to cool. When cupcakes are cool, frost using the recipe below.
makes enough to generously frost 22 cupcakes, plus some leftovers
1 cup heavy whipping cream
5 or 6 large fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
1 lb. mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
Combine the whipping cream and basil in a small saucepan and place over low heat until the cream just begins to simmer. Remove from heat and let stand for about 20 minutes to cool. Strain cream through a sieve into a small bowl to remove the basil. Press on the basil leaves with the back of a spoon to squeese out as much cream as possible. Place bowl in the refridgerator for about 20 minutes to cool.
To make the frosting, combine mascarpone cheese, confectioners sugar and chilled whipping cream in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachement, begin beating the mixture on high speed. Watch the mixture closely and stop as soon as SOFT peaks begin to form. This will ony take 60 to 90 seconds. Do not overbeat or the cream will become too thick.
Immediately place frosting in a piping bag or resealable plastic bag. If using a baggie, cut a small hole in one corner. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake and, if desired, top each with a small basil leaf.
Serve immediately or refridgerate cupcakes.