Lychee cupcakes with honey ginger icing.
I wanted to make a cupcake in honor of the Lunar New Year for this dinner party. So I decided to use some Asian-inspired flavors. The cupcakes didn't turn out as well as I liked because the bottom got too brown too quickly (more on this later), but they tasted pretty good.
Lychees are a Chinese fruit. They have a prickly red exterior, which you peel off to reveal the white pulpy fruit. The fruit... I can't really describe the taste, but it's light and very sweet, and faintly tropical. You can buy them fresh in Asian supermarkets, but you can also buy them canned. (And some stores have lychee juice, too, as a drink.)
For ease, I bought the canned stuff. Peeling and cleaning all the fruit is not really worth the effort, when the canned stuff is not markedly different. So I pureed about a cup's worth of the fruit and some syrup, too. I used one of my favorite chocolate cupcake recipes, except I put in a cup of milk and a cup of lychee puree instead of 2 cups of milk and chocolate. (I also cut the sugar in half and upped the flour a little, because the lychees and syrup are very sweet and... syrupy.)
Remember I said the bottoms got too brown, too quickly? I think this is where I went wrong because I don't believe I should have added any syrup to my puree. I think the syrup.... settled, or something like that? Because the bottom was brown but the top was basically perfect. I noticed the same thing about my batter when I was mixing it together -- the lychee part settled. So if I were to make these again, I'd just puree the fruit and not add any of the syrup at all, and hopefully that'd hold up better.
For the icing, I used store-bought white icing, and doctored it up -- because I was already running kinda late for the dinner party. So I added a couple of teaspoons of minced ginger root, some ginger powder, and a dollop of honey. (If I were to do this again, I'd double the ginger root so you really get a kick out of it. The lychee cake is sweet enough that it can take a less-sweet icing.)
The cupcakes, mid-decorating.
Ta-da! The Good Fortune cupcake. I had reservations about them, walking out the door with them, but everyone enjoyed them, to my pleasant surprise. Happy Lunar New Year, everyone!