Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Fiesta in your MOUTH.

i've said this a million times: if indians weren't indian, they'd be mexican. seriously. if the amount of indians that love, adore, and would die without taco bell is any indication, our bond with mexicans is eternal. okay, okay, so taco bell is doctored up, fake mexican food. but it's still cheap and delicious, so please. if you need a better example, just step into any mexican restaurant and spot the table for 20 of browns-from-my-hometown. they will be there!

so then, this week i was presented with the awesome opportunity to pay homage to my mexican brothers and sisters by making a cupcake inspired by guacamole. my friend and classmate robby helped me out with a project (deets later), and when he told me that he would accept food for payment, my mind naturally turned to baking. i asked him what some of his fave flavors were and he said guacamole - not what i was looking for. i was looking for chocolate vs. vanilla, fruity vs. savory - something cake-ish at least. instead, i got guac. GUAC.

now i've heard rumors about using avocado in cake mixes, similar to the idea of using pumpkin or bananas. the creamy, fattiness of avocados is a healthy replacement for eggs and butter in any cake mix. so, i got to googling and you will never believe what i found - avocado frosting.

yeah, you heard me. frosting.

alton brown, one of the coolest (and nerdiest) dudes in the world of culinary television, had an entire "good eats" episode on avocados where he pumped out a recipe for frosting. i could not pass up the opportunity to try it. i thought about pairing it with an avocado chocolate cupcake but then remembered that a) avocados are not cheap, and b) i'd also heard a little thing or two about mexican chocolate cakes and cookies. when it comes to mexican chocolate, its all about spice. some recipes call for some additional cinnamon, but quite a few call for some cayenne pepper too, for a little added heat. interesting. so i thought, what the hell, lets stick 'em together and see what kind of fiesta ensues. and there you have it.

mexican choco-chili cupcakes
  • 1 box chocolate cake mix 
    • ingredients called for on box
  • 1/2 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
combine all ingredients and load into paper-lined muffin pan. bake 15-18 minutes, or until cupcake springs back upon touch. transfer to wire rack and cool completely. 

alton brown's avocado "buttercream" frosting
  • 8 oz ripe avocado flesh (about 2 small avocados)
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cups (1 lb) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract*
peel and pit the avocados. cream them in an electric mixer along with the lemon juice for a few minutes till the color turns a bright green. slowly add in the powdered sugar, mixing continuously until well combined. mix in the extract (or zest). i found that leaving it in the fridge for a bit before piping it made it a little easier. by the time i reached the last cupcake though, it didn't hold its shape very well. an alternate method would be to just smooth the frosting on the cupcakes with an offset spatula!
*didn't have this - so i just used a little lemon zest instead. 

check out that gorgeous green color - au naturel! 
and just in time for perry's birthday too (who went nuts when he found out the secret ingredient)! 
and my little cuz, rima :) happy birthday!

thanks again, robby! check out his awesome (and frequently updated) blog about the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of being a medical student - it is a GREAT read. 

if you had a chance to taste this, let me know what you thought! i was almost afraid to serve it (made some folks taste test it for real) since the flavors were so different. a tiny kick of spice at the end of the cupcake, mixed with a citrus-avocado-sweetness. it was a different combo for sure, but i kinda really super like it!

(side note - do the pics look a little fancier than usual? jimmy let me borrow his sweet canon so i was messin' around with the manual focus!)


  1. Robby was kind enough to let me try one of his gift cupcakes and they were awesome! I tried the icing first and it definitely had a unique flavor that was less sweet than the average icing. It was yummy and went so very perfectly with the cinnamon-y chocolate-y goodness of the cupcake. To top it off, the cayenne added the perfect kick. Good work Sonya!

  2. Yum, so delicious. And I agree, Perry went WILD when you told him. Please ask me to do favors for you so that I can take food as payment. I envision a lot of mutual baking during our time in Butner next year....HOLLER.

  3. I didn't even have one of these but I just wanted to say you are so frackin talented!

  4. these look AMAZING! Also, the pics look great. What'd you do for the solid off-white background?

  5. -Nicole: THANKS!

    -Matt: I can picture it now, us towing cupcakes with us to our psych rounds...

    -BJ: Can't wait till I can post about your wedding desserts :):)

    -Ginny: Preesh! I just used a solid white sheet of paper (I do that for all the solid backgrounds - tricky, huh?)

  6. They look (and sound) awesome!

  7. I also got to try these and they were fabulous!! Thanks for sharing, I can't wait to try making them sometime (although I'm sure they definitely won't be as beautiful as yours!)

  8. Sonya, I just made these (yay off weekend!), and they were FANTASTIC!! The heat in the cupcakes is really subtle and the frosting is delicious and matches perfectly. I will definitely be making these again and probably adding even more cayenne. Thank you for the great recipe!

  9. that's awesome, lindsey! i bet extra cayenne would suit these (and me) perfectly - so excited to see people trying it out :)

  10. Finally read your blog and now I want cake. Everytime you bake, you have to save two - for me and dad. Don't forget. Love...


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