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Desserts, Sweet Snacks

Champagne and Roses Cupcakes
(Champagne Hibiscus Cupcakes with Rosewater Meringue Buttercream)

These are celebratory cupcakes. Why, you ask? Well, today is the 5th Birthday (anniversary?) of this here Cup of Sugar :: Pinch of Salt website. Yup, it was 5 years ago on a snowy weekend that I started this adventure and who knew I would still be going strong 1152 recipes later. So happy birthday, CSPS. Have a cupcake on me!

Ingredients
for the cupcakes
2 3/4 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup champagne
1 tablespoon Rose Hibiscus Extract
6 egg whites

for the meringue buttercream
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided into 1 cup and 1/4 cup
1/3 cup water
6 large egg whites, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft, cut into pieces

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake pans with liners.

Sift together cake flour, baking powder and salt. Mix Rose Hibiscus Extract into your champagne. In the work bowl of your stand mixer, cream butter, sugar vanilla until soft and fluffy. Reducing your mixer speed to low, alternate adding flour mixer and champagne mixture until just combined. Transfer batter to another large bowl and wash and dry thoroughly mixer bowl. In clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add 1/3 of stiff egg whites to cupcake batter folding in very gently. Repeat 2 more times. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full with batter. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a knife is inserted and when removed is clean. Cool completely before frosting.

To make the Meringue combine 1 cup of sugar and water in a small sauce pan. Heat sugar and water on medium until boiling (you want large bubbles). In the work bowl of your stand mixer, beat egg whites, cream of tartare and sugar until frothy. Increase your mixer speed to high and beat egg whites until hard peaks form. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly and carefully pour hot sugar mixture into egg whites. Slowly increase the mixer speed again and beat until the mixture is no longer hot or warm and is fluffy. With the mixer set at medium speed, slowly add butter pieces. Mix until smooth. Place into piping bag and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Garnish with sugar pearls and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

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