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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lychee and jasmine cupcakes

Making up cupcake flavours is far too much fun. Chocolate? Vanilla? Why take the pedestrian route when you can go crazy with whatever flavour combination takes your fancy. Popcorn, Coca-Cola, strawberry balsamic and chocolate bacon cupcakes have all been baked recently, out of whimsy.

Often, I'll try to match cupcake flavours to the cuisine I know we'll be eating, so Asian-themed dinners have concluded with black sesame cupcake cones or ginger with chai icing.

Aware that the G-man would be serving Thai food at a recent Stomachs Eleven dinner, I brought along lychee and jasmine cupcakes, hoping they'd provide a light and refreshing end to the evening.

But first things first. Onto the food.

Freshly shucked oysters from The Oyster Farm

The cause for this occasion was the arrival of the G-man's annual delivery of oysters from The Oyster Farm, an initiative that allows you "adopt" your own oysters and watch them grow via webcam throughout the season. It's not a cheap exercise with each dozen costing $28, but there's plenty of excitement when the box arrives.

Shucking oysters is never as easy as it looks either. Everyone has their own technique and I manage to open about two dozen before I pass the oyster shucker onto L.

I don't find this year's harvest as in intensely flavoured as last year's, but the taste of freshly opened oysters is still a treat, especially slurping up the pool of natural brine that surrounds the oyster.

Resting the wagyu steak

I'd arrived early and am entrusted with searing a huge slab of wagyu steak for beef tataki. I'm petrified I'll overcook the fillet, but to my relief it's a perfect shade of dark pink. We make up our own dish by rolling the thinly sliced beef with enoki mushrooms and a green shallot stalk.

Beef tataki served with a soy dressing

Fried prawn dumplings

Did someone say fried? The G-man speaks my language. We crunch on prawns wrapped in wonton sheets and tied up with hokkien noodle, a simple idea that is so easy to do. He also fries dumplings made by wrapping fish ball halves in wonton skins, a dish he is says is common in Thailand. I relish the juicy sweetness of the fish ball against the crunch of pastry and am impressed by how fast these can be made.

We also snack on prawns wrapped in taro shreds, a dish that seems extraordinarily complex until the G-man confesses he's purchased them from a seafood shop ready-made.

Khai Look Koei Son-in-law eggs with pork mince

Son-in-law eggs are always my favourite, and I marvel as I watch the boiled egg halves blister and become golden when immersed in hot oil. The G-man serves these with a pork mince mixture that is soft, spicy and sweet and fragrant with ginger.

Koong Cha Num Pla
King prawn and king scallop cocktail with spicy garlic and lemon dressing

A King prawn and king scallop cocktail is served in a muffin tray, a last-minute plating decision when we realise we've run out of crockery. The prawns are semi-raw, blanched with boiling water in their shells, and then peeled and served with a fiery lemon dressing that is pungent with garlic and coriander. The gigantic scallops underneath are plump and sweet.

Ham and zucchini frittata

Silverlily has brought a ham and zucchini frittata, chock-full of chunks of ham and slivers of finely grated zucchini.

Grilled quail

M's grilled quail is also a winner, the soy marinade caramelising to a sticky sweetness.

Thanks again to the G-man for sharing your oyster bounty!

Lychee and jasmine cupcakes

125g salted butter softened
125g sugar
125g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
1/2 tin of lychees, drained and quartered (reserve the syrup)

125g unsalted butter, softened
250g-300g pure icing sugar
1-2 teaspoons syrup from tinned lychees
few drops jasmine essence (from Thai grocery stores)

Preheat oven to 170C or 150C if using fan-forced.

Combine the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and eggs in a food processor and blitz until well combined. If you do not have a food processor, cream the butter and sugar first and then add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, vanilla essence and eggs and beat until well combined.

Add two tablespoons of lychee syrup and blitz/beat.

Distribute the batter evenly across twelve patty pans in a muffin tin, about a tablespoon in each. Push 2-3 pieces of lychee into the centre of each patty pan of batter. Use your finger or a clean spoon to smooth the batter over the top so the lychees are fully submerged.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into one of the cupcakes comes out clean.

When the cupcakes are cool, pipe over with frosting.

Lychee and jasmine frosting
Using an electric mixer, cream the unsalted butter until light and fluffy. Beat in 250g of the icing sugar, then add 1-2 teaspoons of the lychee syrup and a few drops of jasmine essence. Adjust according to your personal taste. You may need to add more icing sugar or lychee syrup until you reach a smooth and pipeable consistency.

Makes 12 cupcakes

View Larger Map

The Oysterfarm
Riverside Drive, Wooli, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 9399 3599 or +61 (02) 6649 7355

Oysters must be ordered at the beginning of the season (November to February) and will be available sometime during November to February in the following year. You can monitor the progress of various oysters online and visit your own oysters in person if you make an appointment.

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Wooli Oysterfarm oysters (Jan09)
Oysters at Mooney Mooney (Oct08)
Oysters at Mooney Mooney (Sep07)
20 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 1/12/2010 02:40:00 am


  • At 1/12/2010 3:50 am, Blogger Karen | Citrus and Candy said…

    Another gorgeous flavour from the cupcake queen! I def can't wait to see what flavours you come up with next!

    The combo of lychee and jasmine sounds so ambrosial. Perfect for summer I think!

  • At 1/12/2010 4:20 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Love the muffin tray idea! Looks so cute.

    I think my most-desired of your cupcakes remains the black sesame and the popcorn (and the coca-cola, and the straberry balsmic... who am I kidding, you make them all look so marvellous), but I do love lychee - particularly if someone else goes to the trouble of peeling them :D

  • At 1/12/2010 9:02 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Ooh I love your new cupcake flavour! Lychee is so great and I can imagine jasmin would match it really well. And it looks so puuurdy :)

  • At 1/12/2010 11:13 am, Blogger A cupcake or two said…

    What a great cupcake recipe. You are just so creative with your cupcake recipes. I love lychees and they are perfect in summer. Yum

  • At 1/12/2010 12:51 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a fantastic flavour combo for the cupcakes. Another impressive spreads of food on the stomach eleven series :)

  • At 1/12/2010 2:13 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Good gosh - you've nearly outdone yourself Helen! Just the sound of 'lychee and jasmine' cupcakes starts the drool. It looks so gorgeous! Thanks for sharing the recipe - I might have a crack at myself this weekend. And that beef tataki looks very nomnomnom-worthy =]

  • At 1/12/2010 5:06 pm, Blogger OohLookBel said…

    Lychee and jasmine are the two best flavours in the whole world (true!). You're a genius for putting them into a cupcake (I'm a bit over macarons, :P)

  • At 1/12/2010 6:26 pm, Blogger arista said…

    Lychee and jasmine cupcakes? Interesting! The frittata looks great too.

  • At 1/12/2010 10:28 pm, Blogger YaYa said…

    Whimsy? Sheer genius I would say!

  • At 1/12/2010 11:44 pm, Anonymous Trissa said…

    One of the most unique and YUMMY cupcake flavours I've seen. I tell you - very intrigued about adopting my own oysters now!

  • At 1/12/2010 11:55 pm, Anonymous KFC So Good said…

    WOW, I want the Son-in-law eggs now. It looks sooo very yummy. This is the kind of real thai food that one cannot get in the typical Thai XXXX place. This is just Thai-riffic.

    It is so ingenious to use noodles to tie up the prawn spring rolls - functional AND pretty. Looks like G-Man is quite an accomplished Thai home cook.

  • At 1/13/2010 2:19 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Karen - Ha, I need to start my own cupcake notebook for ideas methinks but hmm sometimes half the fun is coming up with ideas just by looking at what's in the pantry!

    Hi Hannah - The muffin tray worked surprisingly well. I've been eating lychees in front of the telly all summer (makes peeling them so much easier) and I recommend you give the cupcake recipes a go. They're all super easy to do!

    Hi Stephcookie - Lychee and jasmine go surprisingly well. I happened upon the jasmine essence when I bought the tin of lychees from the Asian grocery store and it seemed like a perfect combo.

    Hi A Cupcake or Two - I think once you put something into a cupcake form, anything becomes instantly edible! lol

    Hi Ellie - Thanks. I think I'm slowly growing 11 stomachs myself, lol, but I'm not complaining!

    Hi Margaret Tran - Have fun with the cupcakes this weekend - hopefully it won't be another scorcher! And the beef tataki was tasty :)

    Hi Belle - Over macarons? Say it isn't so! lol.

    Hi Arista - Thanks. They were well received. The frittata was delicious - always such a good dish for parties.

    Hi YaYa - Now now, let's not go overboard. lol!

    Hi Trissa - It's quite a fun concept adopting oysters isn't it? I like the idea of the web cam monitoring system too!

    Hi KFC So Good - The son-in-law eggs were very tasty and yes, homecooked Thai food is always a treat.

    I think the noodle string is such a clever idea too. Not sure whether I'd be able to get the knots so neat though!

  • At 1/13/2010 8:45 am, Anonymous Simon said…

    What can be said about these cupcakes that haven't been said already with your other inspired creations? As always, this looks like it would have been a fabulous flavour combination!

    Glad to hear that the tataki worked out in the end. I can find that it can be somewhat nerve-wracking when dealing particular expensive cuts.

  • At 1/13/2010 1:29 pm, Blogger YW said…

    hmm... wouldn't it be hard to eat the oysters that you've been watching them grow? hehe.. they would've been like a pet.. but then again .. maybe it's like watching apple grow on tree.. hmmm....

  • At 1/13/2010 5:48 pm, Blogger Gun said…

    Man, we've been eating like no tomorrow since Xmas...

    Should stomach 11 goes to gym together? :P

  • At 1/14/2010 1:29 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Simon - Ha, you're right, I was quietly petrified about ruining someone else's wagyu. The cupcakes were a last-minute inspiration - thankfully well received!

    Hi YW - I think there's an element of increased satisfaction, especially after all the effort involved in getting the shells open. lol

    Hi Gun - Ha, I think that's a great idea. Gymming Eleven! Or Aerobics Eleven. haha

  • At 2/03/2010 1:02 pm, Blogger hazchem said…

    OMGWTFBBQ we ate our oysters last night and they were stunning. Rang the farm today and placed my order for next summer right away! Best oysters I've ever eaten!

  • At 2/04/2010 1:55 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi hazchem - Wow, sounds like one happy customer to me! Glad to hear the oysters were such a hit - I don't think you can ever beat freshly opened oysters, and when you have to open them yourself, I'm sure they taste infinitely sweeter! Now for the 12-month wait until your next delivery :)

  • At 6/14/2010 1:06 pm, Anonymous soiia said…

    I saw your other cupcakes recipes and wow, they all look great! I tried this one with my boyfriend today and it was G R E A T!! However, I couldn't find the jasmine essence anywhere (I tried at the local Chinese supermarket with no success) so we tried by preparing extra extra coarse jasmine tea, but of course it didn't taste that much with the lychee syrup and the butter incorporated in the frosting.

    But anyways, this recipe is very good! It was so much fun eating the hidden lychee in every cupcake :P Thanks for sharing!

  • At 6/14/2010 4:47 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi solia - So glad you enjoyed them. I found the jasmine essence in a Thai grocery store in Chinatown. Extra jasmine tea might work, but you'd have to steep a lot for a long time I'm guessing. Otherwise you could always try rosewater if you can find it? The lychee bits are always fun to find!


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