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Sunday, May 29, 2011

My mom's blackberry pie a la mode cupcakes

I am not one to shy away from a challenge, so when I saw Cupcake Project/Scoopalicious's 2011 Ice Cream Cupcake challenge I started fantasizing, nay, dreaming about the best possible ice cream cupcake I could make.

(For the original announcement please see  and

The only problem with this: I'm not a huge fan of cupcakes.

I know I know!  Why would I enter a cupcake contest if I didn't really love cupcakes?  Well, it's not that I dislike them, I'm just picky.  First off, I don't like regular frosting.  However, in my humble opinion I have the best cream cheese frosting recipe ever.  So check one to the frosting.  Second, I love pie.  Obsessively.  I love pie.  But pie with cream cheese frosting?  Weird.  I do have a killer spice cake recipe, but spice cake a la mode with frosting, boring.  I needed something with more... spice. :)

I heard about this competition while I was visiting my beautiful grandmother in St. Louis, MO.  Maybe the familial nostalgia started overtaking me, but I came up with the best idea ever (I personally think):

Blackberry pie a la mode cupcakes.  My mother's blackberry pie recipe married to cream cheese frosting, with a blackberry vanilla ice cream, butter based flakey and savory pie crust and the moistest spice cake known to man.

So, this recipe took some time.  I had to decide what stratigraphy to put everything in.  I didn't want to just dig out a hole in the middle of the spicecake.  As an archaeologist this offended my perfectly square unit sensibilities.  I wanted in tact stratigraphy, not some ice cream scoop krotovina tarnishing the former beautify of the levels.  So here's what I came up with:

Pie crust "wrappers" (I've done this before for hand-held pies)
Blackberry pie filling
A layer of ice cream
"muffin tops" of cake

First things first.  We need to make the spice cake muffin tops.  Here's what you need:

  • 1/2 cups cake flour

  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  •  pinch of salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1/3 cups (packed) golden brown sugar

  • 1 large egg, separated

  • 1/4 cup sour cream

  • Preheat oven to 350*.  Sift first 7 ingredients into small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add brown sugar and beat until well blended. Beat in egg yolk. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with sour cream in 2 additions. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg white in medium bowl until stiff but not dry; fold into batter in 2 additions.  Pour this into 12 well greased muffin tins (the same tins you will use for making the final cupcakes).  Bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove and let cool.

    Meanwhile, make some pie dough.  I mix 1 1/4 cups flour, 1/2 tsp salt with one stick of COLD butter until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Add tablespoons of ice water until the mixture is sticky but not too sticky and forms a cohesive dough.  The trick to good pie crust: wrap in plastic wrap and stick in the fridge for 1-3 hours.  It helps the gluten rest.  I made the crust into 12 identical size balls (I think of them as grape shot) and leave them in the fridge.  See the picture.

    Then mix together 1/4 cup flour with 1/2 cup sugar and some cinnamon and nutmeg.  Place aside.

    Get one of those small containers of blackberries.  Reserve 12 blackberries (the prettiest ones).  Smoosh the rest of them in a bowl and reserve.

    Roll out your 12 identical sized pie crusts into rounds and place into well-greased cupcake tin.  Sprinkle a 1/2 tsp of flour/sugar mixture in the bottom, then add a tbsp or so of blackberry moosh into each of the floured pie crust rounds.  Then sprinkle the rest of the flour/sugar mixture evenly over the smooshed blackberry mixture.  The flour mixture will help the blackberries to not weep everywhere.  

    Anyways, melt a little butter, wash the pie crusts in butter and bake at 350* for 15 minutes or so, until the crusts are a little golden.

    Pick your favorite icecream.  I got Tillamook's "marion berry pie" ice cream.  Keep it out of the fridge while the crusts are baking so it can soften.  When the crusts/pies are cooked place them into the fridge ASAP so they can cool.  Then spoon in semi-melty ice cream and add the "muffin tops" of cake.  Place in freezer.

    While these are freezing, make the frosting, which is as follows:

    • 1/3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
    • 1/3 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 cups powdered sugar (about 1 1/4 pounds)
    • 1 tablespoons sour cream
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Whip the butter in the electric mixer. Add the cream cheese and beat then beat in sugar, then sour cream and vanilla.  Spoon this delicious mixture into a pastry bag and put in the fridge for about an hour until it's cool.

    When the frosting is cool decorate your cupcakes; I used a "lattice-work" design to mimic a blackberry pie.  Add a berry on top.

    I brought these cupcakes to a few friends, my advisor and some colleagues.  Everyone texted/emailed/called me to say "Oh my god!  These are so good!"  And despite the fact that they have so many steps they are so easy to make... you just have to do all the steps and put them together.

    And check out the final product.  Look at that stratigraphy!  Amazing, eh?

    Tell me if you make them!


    1. Oh, and this makes 12 cupcakes.

    2. These are so cute! I love the idea of making it like a little mini tasty! :-D

    3. Thanks @Sara! They were very fun to make (and tasty too!)