Monday, September 5, 2011

Acorn Recipe - Acorn Cupcakes with Wild Grape Cream Cheese Frosting

We made this early this spring, and brought them as a "taste" to a wild weed walk we took with Blanche Derby in Massachusetts. She gives samples of prepared dishes along with her tours to really show people what they can do with the wild food they just learned about in the field. We made something completely out of season for spring, but we used wild food we had gathered and preserved last autumn.

Robert cold leaches the white oak acorns (Quercus alba) by placing the shelled nutmeat in a gallon jar of cold water and letting it sit overnight. In the morning, he pours off the now-amber water which has leached out some tannins from the nuts. He will repeat this process until the water no longer stains tea-colored. This way we save energy by not using the stove, and hopefully retain more nutrients by not boiling the nutmeats. The next step is to dry the nuts in the dehydrator, on the dashboard in the car if it is warm and sunny outside, or in a low oven. Finally he grinds the dry nuts in a coffee grinder into a flour. We keep the flour in the freezer to prevent it from going rancid. I cobbled together a few different recipes that usually call for walnut or almond flour for the cupcake.

The wild grape (Vitus species) jam was also produced last autumn from various species of wild grapes that we find growing along field edges and near water. It is the tastiest jam we make, along with being the most popular. I say it is an adult grape jam, although there is no alcohol involved. The flavor is so much more intense than the stuff you get at the store, and the flavor improves with age, like wine. The jam was added to a softened cream cheese and butter mixture, along with a bit more confectioner's sugar to make the frosting, and I also hollowed out the cupcakes and added a dollop of straight jam for an intense flavor burst.

Acorn Cupcakes with Wild Grape Cream Cheese Icing            
makes about 42 mini cupcakes or 2-8" round cakes

1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
4 oz. softened butter or shortening
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
6 oz. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. acorn flour

1. Preheat the oven to 325° and line muffin pans with papers.
2. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
3. Cream together the butter or shortening with the sugar until fluffy.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition.
5. Add half of the flour mixture, mix. Add the buttermilk, mix, Add the remaining flour mixture.
6. Fold in the ground acorn flour and mix until incorporated.
7. Bake 8" round for 25-35 minutes, bake cupcakes 12-18 minutes until cake is springy. Cool.

Wild Grape Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz. softened butter
6 oz. softened cream cheese
3 c. confectioners sugar
4 T wild grape jam

1. Mix butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add confectioners sugar and mix until stiff, scraping bowl.
2. Add the grape jam. You want a pretty purple frosting. If the frosting is too soft, add more confectioners sugar to help it stiffen. Chill the frosting before frosting the cupcakes, and chill the cupcakes once frosted.


Veggie Tales said...

That sounds so interesting!

Amy said...

Those acorn cupcakes look so interesting and creative.

Julie said...

I found your site after searching for what to do with the acorn flour I picked up at our Asian market last week.

Too snowy here in Chicago to go foraging for fruit so I used some orange vanilla jam I canned this summer to make the frosting.

The acorn flour adds a unique flavor and I love it. Thanks so much for sharing!!!