Slaying the Dragon Fruit
I was wandering through the Whole Foods produce aisle when I stumbled upon the strangest looking item. I couldn’t look away, let alone pass it by. As soon as I saw the sign reading Dragon Fruit (ignoring the crazy expensive $9.99 lb price tag below it), I grabbed two and decided I’d figure out what to do with them later.
That evening I looked them over and it was clear that I needed to keep that gorgeous, scale-like rind solid for a colorful bowl to hold some vanilla ice cream. So I carefully scooped the insides out and chilled the exterior in the fridge. The rest I decided to bake into cupcakes to accompany (and to be eaten on their own).
Attempting to create a makeshift cake flour, I accidentally grabbed the cornmeal instead of the cornstarch. The result of the first batch was really strangely edible — a tasty unholy spawn of cornbread and cupcakes that were best left unfrosted and eaten as a decadent breakfast muffin.
With actual cake flour in hand, I tried again and the result was delicious! The cake is airy with just a hint of being more than mere vanilla, both in taste and in appearance with those tiny black flecks. My frosting — which included a dragon puree reduction and some liquid dragon fruit, came out way too sweet for full-sized cupcakes (or “motherships” as Taran called them), but seemed to work for the bite-sized mini cupcakes, though it was somewhat droopy in consistency.
All told, taste-wise, the plate came out to my satisfaction. I saw that the ice cream looked a little plain, so I added melted some semi-sweet chocolate, mixed in chopped pretzels and dried cranberries, then spread it out and froze it, breaking it into bark for garnish.
But there was still that not-quite-right frosting. So, I tried again, leaving the cupcake batter as it was, but tinkering with the frosting to get a thicker consistency — paring it down to a simple mix of butter, sugar and basic dragon fruit puree, leaving out the vanilla extract and my initial attempt at a reduction. I’m really pleased with how these have turned out! I’ll likely play around with the coloring in the future, but the taste is just right.
The recipe for the cupcakes is as follows, with a yield of 48 mini cupcakes.
|1 3/4 c cake flour
1 c granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs, separated with whites beaten to stiffness
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c pureed dragon fruit
1/2 c slightly softened butter
|Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Puree dragon fruit
Using standing mixer, combine butter, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla until creamy.
Combine flour, salt, and baking powder separately.
Alternate between adding a bit of the dragon fruit puree and adding the dry ingredients, setting the mixer on low until fully combined, with a burst at medium at the end.
Fold in egg whites.
Spoon batter into cupcake liners until 3/4 full.
Bake for 15 min. then check. Typically I need to give it 2-3 more minutes after that, but going 20 or more overbakes.
And the recipe for the frosting is:
|Green food coloring
5-6 tbsp butter
3 c confectioner’s sugar
3 tbsp dragon fruit puree
Mix butter and sugar on low speed until well combined
Pour dragon fruit puree in 1 tbsp at a time while continuing to mix on low