Three weekends ago, I co-hosted a French-Mexican fusion dinner with my friend OH. A small jar of black summer truffles left over from the dinner was entrusted to my care and since I absolutely love truffles, I had to make something special with them.
I’ve had black truffle macarons at one of my favourite patisseries in the city, La Bamboche – and they are the most amazing treat, the perfect combination of sweet and savoury. I would not hope to replicate them at home (especially since I haven’t yet popped the macaron-baking cherry), but was excited by the idea of doing something with a black truffle buttercream. A subtle cake base of lemon and olive oil continues the savoury-sweet theme and makes this a very unusual combination – the grassiness of the olive oil and brightness of the lemon gently cutting the rich buttercream and preventing it from becoming cloyingly unctuous.
Lemon & Olive Oil Cupcakes
1 1/4 cup cake flour
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cups olive oil
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest (from one lemon)
Preheat oven to 350F and line a 12 cup muffin tin with baking cups.
Sift together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and lemon zest, pressing the oils from the zest into the sugar with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Add egg, olive oil, milk and lemon juice, and whisk together (or use a hand blender on low speed) until well combined. Add dry ingredients gradually while whisking or beating until the mixture is smooth and there are no lumps.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups and bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake and then withdrawn comes out clean.
Let cool completely before frosting.
Black Truffle Meringue Buttercream
1 1/3 cup butter, softened
16g black truffle (fresh if you can get it; it will have a much better flavour than the jarred one)
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup water
1/2-1 teaspoon truffle oil, depending on the pungency of your truffles
Mince the black truffle and combine it with the butter. Let it sit in the fridge for at least a day to infuse the truffle flavour into the butter. Before making the buttercream, remove the butter from the fridge and allow to soften and come to room temperature.
Whip the egg whites with a hand mixer on low speed until it takes on a foamy consistency, with evenly sized small bubbles throughout. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat, increasing the speed, until it forms stiff, glossy peaks.
In a small saucepan, heat the sugar, salt and water on medium-high heat, stirring gently, until it comes to 238F. Immediately turn on the mixer and pour sugar syrup in a slow, steady stream down the side of the bowl into the egg whites, beating thoroughly, until the bowl is cool to the touch (3-5 min).
Gradually add butter in small chunks, beating continuously. At some point, the mixture may look lumpy and curdled. This is okay – just keep beating until it pulls together again and becomes smooth. Add in truffle oil.
Spoon into a piping bag and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.