Cupcake Evolution

Although there are still some conflicting stories about how the ever-popular cupcake came about, it’s generally agreed that they got their name by the method they were made: One cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of four, and so on, all in nice even cup-based measures. Eventually, it seems like younger generations that have become removed from the baking process only saw the product, and assumed that they were named because they were all baked in little cups, thus their small size and shape. These days, most people just think of cupcakes as miniature cakes, and not much more. If you ask me, the cupcake still has a bit more evolving to do, and the next step is pretty clear, isn’t it?

Naturally, it only makes sense that they become literal cups made out of cake!

Browsing through a quirky little junk store, a pile of silicon ice cube trays and various molds caught my eye, and I dug in, thinking of the adorable frozen shapes I might plop into cold drinks. However, it was the shot glass mold that grabbed my attention, and after confirming that it was oven safe up to about 500 degrees, I began scheming my grand cupcake plan.

Going with nontraditional Asian flavors, I whipped up a quick matcha-flavored batter, pouring it into the molds and placing a sheet pan underneath just for insurance. As predicted, it did bubble up but not over, and so the mushroomed ends simply needed a trim once cooled. The tricky part came when it was time to remove them. Despite a liberal spray of cooking oil with flour, those cakes refused to loosen their grip on the silicon, and my first victim tore horrifically. Thinking on my toes, I tossed the remaining cups into the freezer, forgot about them for a few hours, and was able to take them out intact once fully frozen.

Filled to the brim with sweet adzuki bean mousse, the presentation was almost as good as the taste! This is one format that the frosting-lovers among us would adore, since the deep pocket allows for far more filling than any standard cupcake. While it may take a bit more effort to make, this latest evolution of the cupcake might be it’s most impressive yet. I won’t tell if you just use this mousse in any old cake though, since it’s far too good to be contained to just one type of baked good!

Adzuki Bean Mousse

2 Cups Cooked Adzuki Beans
6 Ounces (1/2 Package) Firm Silken Tofu
1/4 Cup Plain Soymilk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Packed
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Tablespoons Instant Clear Gel

Toss your cooked beans and tofu into a food processor or blender, and crank up the power. Once the mixture is mostly pureed and there are no more chunks of tofu remaining, add in the soymilk and vanilla, and pulse to combine. In a separate bowl, mix together both sugars and the instant clear gel, and slowly sift these dry ingredients into your machine while the motor is running. Once fully incorporated, continue blending for a minute or two to dissolve the sugar, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture feels mostly smooth and slightly thickened. Pipe into or on top of cupcakes, or eat with a spoon- Those beans make it much healthier than your average mousse, after all!

Printable Recipe

This is my entry for September’s Sugar High Friday, hosted by Fanny. It’s not too late to join in on the fun, so check out the details and post about your own creative cupcakes!

63 thoughts on “Cupcake Evolution

  1. Firstly, I am one of these younger generation types that thought the name ‘cupcake’ was derived from the fact that they are baked in a little cup. Thank you for the enlightenment :)

    Secondly, coming from a Japanese background, I am really excited about this entry. Where can I get the recipe for the matcha flavoured batter?

  2. These are spectacular, Hannah! From the shape to the flavor to the amazing mousse (MUST TRY THAT ONE!!)–fantastic, creative and, I am certain, delicious entry! (And of course I also thought they were called that because of the small cup baking pans!)

  3. you’re a genius, Hannah! this = super stellar! and ohhhhhhh – sweet adzuki bean mousse! sweet gloriousness! how i love adukis! thanks for the mousse recipe! mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

    so brilliant! man, i love it all!

  4. I, too, have been utterly enlightened by the origins of the cupcake moniker. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

    Admittedly, the Adzuki bean mousse is tantalizing me through the internet. I will try whipping some up at home, it looks so good.

    Thanks again :)

  5. Thank you very much for telling the story behind the cupcake! Some years ago there were some cookbooks coming out in Germany that dealt with “Tassenkuchen” meaning nothing else than “cupcakes”. They also used the concept of one cup of this and one cup of that, but I think the concept never became famous over here because we are so metric :)

    I really need to bake with beans some day, your cupcakes look so beautiful!

  6. coooool!
    I love your fun-shaped cuppers. And the bean mousse? This is yet another example of your great talent! I read Julie’s post about Instant Clear Jel, and I’ve had it in my mind. Good to see someone putting it to use.


  7. You’re a genius. I’ll have to trust that they taste as good as they look. Unless you want to start hiring me as your taste tester and sending me some sample, you know. *wink, wink* LOL. They’re beautiful Hannah! Nice job and very creative. :)

  8. WOW. I had been looking for an excuse to get those shot glass molds but I don’t really do shots, or have events that would require them. Thanks for the excuse!


    This is such a cute idea :) do you have the recipe for the actual cake part? matcha and red bean are the yin and yang of my sweet tooth :)

  10. Oh.My.God.
    Green tea? Adzuki beans?
    I think I just died and gone to heaven.
    I love the steamed buns filled with adzuki paste you get in asain supermarkets.
    So cute. And if that mousse is anything like the red bean paste in the buns, I’m sold.

  11. That is…utterly brilliant.

    I am so excited that you used these molds for baking because I bought these molds that seemed to be destined forever as ice cubes, not living up to their full potential. I thought they could be used as candy molds but not much else. I hope their silicon is the same so that I might give a baking project a try!

  12. So in my healthier vegan desserts class YOUR book is listed as suggested reading. How amazing is that!? :)
    Did I ever tell you I got it? a couple of months ago.
    Yea, you completely rock haha


  13. Cool is not enough to say what I think about this idea! I offered the same molds to a friend recently and now I kind of regret not having bought one to myself, lol! I LOVE it!


  15. honestly, anything matcha flavored scares me but if I had the recipe I would surely give it a try. I love the shape of these, very creative. You do excellent work, lady! Where does one find clear gel, by the way?

  16. These cupcakes look delicious, but they’re also a super treat for the eye–sculptural and gorgeous looking. And you’ve done something amazing–you’ve created a cupcake we’ve not seen before! :-)

  17. Awesome! I wondered about those shot glass molds – how are you supposed to hold it without it slipping out of your hand? It clearly makes a better cupcake mold!

  18. I’ve been lurking on here for a while – I just love your amigurumi friends and even though I’m not vegan I adore your recipes. This is such a great idea for a cupcake, I hope you win! Thanks for all the inspiration and deliciousness!

  19. This is so artful and beautiful… I will have to try it. I love the bean puree, it reminds me of chestnut cream. Your blog is a real pleasure.

  20. I love cupcake innovation! And this cupcake is truly innovative. Adzuki? Yum. I ate a ton of sweet adzuki filled desserts in Japan and became an addict. Seems like it might be too much frosting, but I’m just going to have to try it out to see. Again, yum.

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