According to legend, the chiffon cake was invented in Los Angeles in the 1920s by Harry Baker (how appropriate!), an insurance salesman. The cake has a wonderfully light and airy texture, much like angel food cake, due to the stiffly-beaten egg whites which acts as a leavening agent. However, unlike the angel food, the chiffon cake also contains egg yolks and vegetable oil which keeps the cake moist and tender. Baking powder is added to the recipe because the vegetable oil is heavy and needs the extra boost to ensure that the cake will rise properly. The chiffon cake is typically baked in a tube pan to enable the hot air to circulate and bake the center of the cake. Once baked, the chiffon cake is inverted until cool to keep the cake from shrinking and deflating.
I have been wanting to make these pistachio chiffon cupcakes for a while now, but I could never find the pistachio cream that is called for in the recipe. I’ve been tempted to make my own pistachio butter from this recipe from 101 Cookbooks as a substitute, but now I don’t have to since I found the cream on sale for $4.99, at Eataly on my last trip to NYC. Plus, I’ve never made a chiffon cake so I was eager to learn how to bake them. I could not decide between a dark chocolate and white chocolate ganache so I made them both.
Pistachio-Cranberry Chiffon Cupcake with Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from a recipe by Cheryl at Cupcake Blog
Yields 36 cupcakes
For the Cupcakes
2-3/4 cups cake flour
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup water
6 ounces pistachio cream
10 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
cranberries and pistachios, chopped, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift the cake flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into the bowl of a standing mixer. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine oil, egg yolks, water, and pistachio cream. Stir to combine. Set aside.
On a low setting, beat the dry mixture and slowly add the wet ingredients. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until pistachio cream is incorporated.
Transfer mixture to another bowl.
Wash and dry mixer bowl and whip egg whites with whip attachment on medium-high speed until foamy. With the mixer on medium speed, add cream of tartar and slowly add sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
Scoop a cupful of the stiff egg whites into the batter and stir to combine. This should lighten up the batter. Transfer the rest of the egg whites to the batter and add cranberries. Gently fold until there are no more streaks of egg white and cranberries are incorporated evenly.
Scoop into cupcake liners and bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
8 ounces dark chocolate or white chocolate*, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a saucepan, simmer the heavy cream over medium-high heat. Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and let stand for 2 minutes. Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth and glossy. Add butter and whisk until incorporated.
Dip the cooled chiffon cupcake into the ganache and coat top evenly. Garnish with dried cranberries and pistachios.
*Variation: To make a pistachio-infused white chocolate ganache, add 1/4 cup of chopped shelled pistachios to the heavy cream and simmer. Let heavy cream/pistachio mixture cool and then transfer to a food processor and process until the pistachios are finely chopped. Strain and reheat cream and pour over the chocolate and let stand for 2 minutes. Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted. Add butter and whisk until incorporated.