Kir Royale Mini Cupcakes

I was wandering around this week contemplating brunch and cupcakes at the same time, and these Kir Royale Cupcakes (champagne cake topped with creme de cassis whipped cream) were the result.

These cakes are fluffy and delicately flavored; because they’re topped with whipped cream, they’re much lighter than normal buttercream-frosted cakes. Perfect for a sweet bite at the end of a brunch or at tea.

I’d made champagne cake before with this recipe, which yields enough for a small tier cake. While tier cakes can be fun, I wasn’t too keen on doing the math to turn this into 48 mini cupcakes. So, I took a classic Martha recipe for yellow cupcakes and added some bubbly to it. The whipped cream is super-stabilized according to Rose Levy Berenbaum’s directions; gelatin gives it enough oomph to stand up to piping, and to keep its shape at room temperature for a few hours.

Champagne Cupcakes (Makes about 12 regular or 24 minis)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. plus 3 tbsp. champagne
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. sugar
2 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line the cups of your cupcake pan with paper liners. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer fitted with paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Mix in, in this order: one third of the dry ingredients, the milk, a second third of the dry ingredients, 1/4 c. of the champagne, the last of the dry ingredients. Mix just until the batter is smooth; do not overbeat.
3. Divide the batter among the cupcake cups, filling each about three-quarters of the way. Bake for 20-25 minutes (for regular cupcakes) or 10-12 minutes (for minis) until the cake tops spring back when pressed, and a tester comes out clean.
4. While the cakes are cooling in the pan, prick the tops lightly with a fork and slowly spoon about 1/2 tsp. champagne onto each (1/4 tsp. for minis), letting as much of the wine soak in as possible. Let the cakes cool completely and remove them from the pan before topping them with whipped cream.

Stabilized Creme de Cassis Whipped Cream (Adapted from The Cake Bible) (Makes 2 cups)
3/4 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1/4 c. creme de cassis
1 c. chilled heavy cream
2 tsp. sugar (superfine if possible)

1. Refrigerate the bowl and whisk attachment of your mixer for at least 15 minutes.
2. Pour the creme de cassis in a small heatproof cup, sprinkle the gelatin over, and let it soften for 5 minutes. In the meantime, bring a pot of water to a simmer. Set the cup in the simmering water, and stir until the gelatin is dissolved. Do not boil. Remove the cup and let the gelatin cool to room temperature (about 10 minutes).
3. Beat the cream and sugar in the chilled bowl just until beater marks start to show distinctly. Add the cooled gelatin-cassis mixture, beating constantly; keep beating until stiff peaks form. Use immediately for piping.**

** Piped shapes will not be as distinct as you may be used to with buttercream; they will, however, stay for several hours at room temperature.