Peach Bellini Cupcakes are studded with diced fresh peaches, filled with champagne pastry cream, and topped with swirls of fluffy peach buttercream. Cheers!
Peach season is almost here, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on some fresh peaches a little earlier than usual. Once plucked, there’s a short window of time to enjoy them before they wrinkle up and spoil. So, needless to say, I was pressed to use them quickly. As a result, last Sunday we had peach tea with our brunch and Peach Melba for dessert. Then, the idea for these Peach Bellini Cupcakes came to me as another way to use up fresh peaches. However, you don’t have to use fresh peaches in this recipe – canned are fine too!
These cupcakes taste absolutely celebratory. Champagne (or prosecco) infuses the cakes and their pastry cream centers. Diced peaches float throughout to cake, and a swirl of fluffy peach buttercream is the finishing flourish.
Make the batter.
Start by creaming the butter and sugar together. I used a hand mixer and things turned out just fine. Then add flour and champagne alternately. As usual, begin and end with the flour to build the best texture.
Dice the peaches.
Chop fresh peaches fine, to about 1/4 inch dice. You’ll need 2/3 cup of diced peaches, which is about 1 1/4 medium-sized fresh peaches. Again, canned peaches are just fine to use here. Just pat them dry before chopping them and adding them to the recipe.
Add the peaches to the batter and mix them in using a rubber spatula. If using canned peaches, which aren’t as firm, use a folding motion so they don’t tear or break down.
Lighten the batter with egg whites.
Yes – it’s an extra step, but whipped egg whites make the base of this cupcake spongy and soft. Fold them in carefully. Hastily stirring them in will deflate the batter and decrease your overall yield. Mindful, careful folding of the egg whites gives the cupcake a sponge cake texture that holds up well to fillings and frostings.
Line cupcake tins with papers, and then portion out the batter using a trigger ice cream scoop. I ended up with about 18 cupcakes.
Bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Then cool them completely on a wire rack.
Champagne pastry cream.
Ah, my favorite element of this confection! Champagne pastry cream is so delicious and smooth – and it’s not too hard to make. Prepare it a day ahead and store it in the refrigerator, if you have time constraints.
Core the cupcakes using a small paring knife, and save the cut out piece. Fill each cupcake with about 1 1/2-2 tablespoons of champagne pastry cream. Using the same paring knife, cut the reserved cake pieces flat to create a ‘lid’ and cover the pastry cream with it.
The peach-flavored frosting was a color experiment gone right! I wanted it to not only have the flavor of peaches (thanks to LorAnn peach flavoring oil), but the color variation as well. So I whipped up some orangey-peach buttercream and painted two lines of red gel food color inside a piping bag. After the bag is loaded with the buttercream and piped, it creates a pleasing swirl reminiscent of peach peel.
See the recipe for further instruction, and for the brand and color of gel food color I used to achieve this effect.
This isn’t the first time I’ve added white nonpareils for a bubbly appearance (see this Cherry Limeade Cake). It’s just the perfect touch to evoke the feelings of a fizzy drink. Pipe the frosting onto a cupcake, and immediately add the white nonpareils. This buttercream crusts, so you must add the sprinkles immediately. If you wait too long, they’ll bounce right off!
Inspired by the Venice-borne cocktail made with champagne and peach puree, these Peach Bellini Cupcakes hold the same sparkling flavor. Bellini are often served as an accompaniment to creamy, salty or spicy foods. So these cupcakes would make a fine dessert after a big plate of alfredo pasta with focaccia. Or spicy bucatini. However, I think they go with everything. (Especially brunch.)
Related recipe: Homemade Peach Cobbler in a Cone
Peach Bellini Cupcakes
- 6 large egg whites
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 3/4 cup champagne or prosecco or other sparkling white wine
- 2/3 cup fresh peaches 1/4″ dice or diced canned peaches
Champagne pastry cream
- 1/2 cup heavy cream divided
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 whole egg
- 2 egg yolks
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup champagne or prosecco
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line cupcake pans with 18 paper liners. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks; set aside.
In another bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. In yet another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine.
Add the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture alternately with the champagne. Stir in the chopped peaches.
Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter until incorporated. Then, fold in the remaining egg whites.
Spoon the batter into the prepared cups. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
Champagne pastry cream
In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and the cornstarch. Whisk in the whole egg and egg yolks. Set aside.
Combine the remaining heavy cream, sugar, and champagne in a saucepan; bring to a boil then remove from the heat. Pour 1/3 of the hot champagne mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so the eggs do not cook. Return the remaining champagne/heavy cream mixture to a boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.
Let cool to room temperature. Cover the surface of the pastry cream with plastic wrap so it doesn’t form a skin. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the butter and confectioners’ sugar. Add milk or cream a little at a time until the mixture is light, fluffy, and of piping consistency. Add the peach flavor and beat again until incorporated. Add 1-2 drops each of the neon yellow and neon orange food color to the buttercream. Beat until well incorporated, scraping down the bowl when necessary. Add more of each color to intensify the color, if desired. The end result should be a vivid orangey-peach color.
Fit a disposable piping bag with a large French pastry tip. Squirt a little of the red food color in a condiment cup. Dip a kitchen-dedicated soft bristle brush into the red food color and paint a line of red food color inside the decorator tip and all the way up the length of the bag. Repeat this step directly across form the first painted line (you could use the piping bag seams for a guide, if your bag has two seams directly across from each other).
On a scrap of parchment or paper towel, squeeze a little of the frosting out of the bag until the red color starts to show.
Core the cupcakes by cutting out a small divot in the centers with a paring knife; save the pieces. Transfer the pastry cream to a disposable piping bag and snip off 1/2 inch hole in the end. Fill each cupcake with about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of the pastry cream. Trim the cut-out cake pieces flat to create “lids” and place them onto the filled divots.
Pipe a swirl of frosting onto a cupcake and immediately sprinkle a pinch of the white nonpareils on top. Repeat this process with each cupcake until all of the cupcakes are frosted and sprinkled. Just before serving, add a fresh mint leaf to each cupcake.