Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sherlockian Cupcakes Part 1: Red Velvet Cupcakes with Tart Pomegranate Filling

As my regular readers know from my music, film, and TV-related posts, food is just one of my many passions. Sometimes I like to do more than mention those other interests in favorites posts. Sometimes I'm inspired to create themed treats by those other art forms. Previously, I was inspired by the David Usher song, "Black Black Heart" to create my Black Black Forest Heart Cupcakes. Today, it's the brilliant re-imagined, modern-day BBC Sherlock Holmes television series (a new favorite, but already in my top 3 shows of all time) that guides my artist's whisk.

I Believe in Sherlock Cupcakes!
Whether you're a devotee of the Arthur Conan Doyle originals or not, "Sherlock" is bound to captivate your imagination and thirst for adventure. The protagonists remain Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, of course, but they are younger, more energetic, and more delightfully irreverent than you've ever seen them. In honor of this sharp-as-a-whip update, I've decided to reinvent on my classic red velvet cupcake with a tart pomegranate filling (inspired by my friend A's wedding dessert). In case it's not obvious enough, yes I am trying to kill 2 birds with with 1 post: introduce you to a new favorite TV show AND new favorite cupcake flavor. But if either one tickles your fancy, I'll still consider it a success =D.

For my readers in the U.S., if "Sherlock" sounds like something you'd like, you can watch Season 1 on Netflix Instant and Season 2 is currently airing on Masterpiece PBS (Sundays at 9 pm EST...the next new episode in 1 hour!).

Red Velvet Pomegranate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Miracle Frosting [Printable Recipe]
Makes 12 cupcakes

XIAOLU'S NOTES: I made Sherlock paper cupcake toppers inspired by this sticker design by Melissa Erickson. Feel free to make these cupcakes with or without the Sherlock toppers =p. If you want to download Sherlock toppers for your personal, private use, open THIS PAGE then PRESS Ctrl+S to download my free PDF printable. To make the toppers, print the PDF using the size option "Fit" on card stock, cut out the circular toppers using a 2-inch circle punch OR by hand using scissors, and finally tape a 4-inch paper lollipop stick to the back of each circle.

6 Bittersweets' Best Red Velvet Cupcakes (Recipe HERE)
1/2 to 3/4 cup Pomegranate Jelly (Recipe HERE)
Cream Cheese Miracle Frosting (Recipe below)
Sherlock-themed Cupcake Toppers (optional)

Once cupcakes have cooled to room temperature, heat pomegranate jelly in the microwave at 5-second intervals until it has softened enough to pipe. (Be careful not to overheat the jelly or it will become too liquid and run out of the bag uncontrollably.) Transfer jelly to a piping bag fitted with a long pointed tip OR a squeeze bottle. Insert tip into each cupcake and squeeze out a small amount of jelly into the cupcake. (You'll know the cupcake is filled to capacity when its top starts to lift slightly. You should immediately stop squeezing that that point or the jelly will start flowing up out of the cupcake.)

Spread or pipe frosting on to cupcakes (I used Ateco #808 - a large plain round piping tip), then insert the paper toppers down the middle of each cupcake. Enjoy and I hope you'll watch BBC's fantastic Sherlock series on PBS!

Cream Cheese Miracle Frosting
Adapted from Treats
Makes about 2 1/2 cups (enough to frost 12 cupcakes)

3/4 cup MINUS 1 to 2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into 8 pieces
3/4 cup (6 oz.) cream cheese, cool room temperature and cut into 6 pieces

Combine sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl. Slowly whisk in milk until smooth. Pour mixture through a strainer into a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture boils and is very thick, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer milk mixture to clean bowl and cool to just below room temperature, about 2 hours (you can speed this up by popping the bowl into the fridge).

With a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or electric handheld mixer, beat cooled milk mixture (about 313 grams) and vanilla on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium, and add butter pieces one at a time followed by cream cheese pieces one at a time, beating well after each addition (about 8 seconds between each addition). Increase speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.


  1. I totally love Sherlock too - such a great show! And the cupcakes sound divine - wonderful flavors! :)

  2. I know u have been tweeting about this show so much I have to watch. And u have to send me those cupcakes!

  3. Looooove Sherlock! And his hair. I like his hair.

    1. LOL glad to see another fan out there! Yes, I love his hair, too. Now that I think of it, I kinda like his everything...yes everything ;p. Seriously, Benedict Cumberbatch is my favorite actor (for Sherlock as well as Hawking, Cabin Pressure, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and the list goes on!) and I don't expect that to change as long as he's around =D. What a brilliant talent.

  4. i recently concluded that sherlock is my favorite show to date. top three, for sure! not only does benedict cumberbatch have a stellar name, but he makes a terrific holmes! :)

  5. looks delicious! and that miracle frosting sounds intriguing - what was the end result texture of the frosting?

    1. Hi Michele! Thanks for the comment and question. This is my go-to cream cheese frosting for RV cupcakes and it's wonderful. It's really smooth with a hint of cream cheese frosting but a unique flavor due to the cooked flour-milk mixture. With all butter instead of cream cheese, this would actually be a frosting that many Southerners claim is The Classic RV frosting and NOT cream cheese frosting (it's an age-old debate that I doubt will ever be settled but I kinda like the idea of this compromise and of course the great taste doesn't hurt!). The frosting pipes smoothly onto cupcakes (I've never tried spreading it only a larger cake, sorry!) as you can see in the photo above. The following photo of my RV cupcakes also use this frosting: The frosting is surprisingly airy inside, so here's a photo from the blogger I adapted the recipe from where you can see the inside: Hope that helps and please do let me know if you try it! One thing to pay careful attention to if you do try it is that the cooked milk-flour mixture MUST BE COOLED to room temperature before you add the butter and cream cheese. Otherwise the fats will be melted by the heat and the frosting will NOT be the right consistency.

    2. hi xiaolu! thanks so much for the detailed response! :) the frosting sounds and looks delicious, i will have to try it out sometime soon! i will definitely let you know how it turns out :)

  6. I love how this is part ONE of the cupcakes...very foreboding. but in a good way!

  7. I love your red velvet cupcakes - color is amazing! Very cute shape of frosting too! :-)

  8. I love the combination of tart with sweet. Beautiful as always!

  9. I love Sherlock Holmes! That a fantastic tribute. You are inspiring!

  10. I have never tried a velvet red cake but after watching these little ones it will be my next next challenge in the kitchen!


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