Tickled pink

The month of January has always reminded me of grapefruit.  Never mind the fact that these global citrus beauties are in-season and criminally inexpensive at the grocery.  For me, the smell of grapefruit is the smell of a new year.  It is bright and lively but also slightly bitter and undeveloped around the edges…like something waiting to unfold.  The scent is a promise that the darkest part of the year is behind us and, if we wait patiently (well, in Southern California, we need be less patient that in other locals) new and delicate things wait just around the corner.

Which is why I thought it appropriate to start the year out with a triple grapefruit treat.

We’ll start with some candied grapefruit peel.  Unlike the heartier orange peels I made for the holidays, these are fine and curly.  For this, I braved my complicated and rather abusive relationship with the citrus zester.  Every time I use this baby, it asks for a piece of flesh as payment.  And this time was no different.

Finer strands of peel means significantly less boil time.

It also means that they emerge from their final syrup bath a bit like tangled spagetti.

These would be difficult to dip in chocolate, but the results are sculptural and perfect for the purposes at hand

Next up: ruby red grapefruit curd.

I’ve made citrus curd utilizing both a stainless saucepan as well as the non-stick variety.  For curd, where continuous whisking is a necessity, I have to admit that I prefer a non-stick pan.  It seems to temper the heat a little better and reduce the opportunity for burned curd.

And now on to the cake portion of this goodie.  Angel food cake is always fun to make and while I generally associate this confection with April and strawberries, I thought the texture would be perfect for what I had in mind.

Glossy and stiff egg whites are gently combined during the final steps along with a little grapefruit zest for good measure.

Airy and light you wouldn’t think something that went into the oven looking like this.

Would come out looking like this.

And now it’s time for the grapefruit hokey pokey.  Each little cake gets a divot.

That is filled with curd.

Then topped by a simple grapefruit icing and accessorized with candied grapefruit peel.

This is going to sound odd, but by the time I have planned-for, made and cleaned-up after whatever it is I’ve created, I’m generally not all that interested in eating it.  This is generally where TD comes in.  But.  I did taste these.

For photographic purposes of course.  And was really surprised at how lovely they are.  When baked, grapefruit mellows-out and can become very subtle.  So, the triple (well, quadruple) effect isn’t overpowering.  My tastebuds also enjoyed the contrast of textures and flavor tones (good lord…did I just say that?)–creamy, springy, crunchy, sweet and puckery.


P!nk.  Of course!

Triple-Quadruple Grapefruit Cupcakes

Recipe credits: Grapefruit Curd, adapted from Sunset Magazine, May 2009; Angel Food Cupcakes adapted from Cooking Light, September 2006

Makes 18 assembled cupcakes


  • Candied citrus peel (reduce final syrup stage to 10-20 minutes and adjust ingredients as needed for amount of zest making)

For Curd

  • 1/2 C freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 8 large egg yolks

For Cupcakes

  • 1/2 C cake flour, sifted
  • 3/4 C powdered sugar
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp grated grapefruit zest

For Icing

  • 2 C powdered sugar
  • 2 TBS-1/4 C grapefruit juice depending on desired consistency


For Curd

  1. In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, melt butter with grapefruit juice over high heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar and yolks. Slowly whisk hot grapefruit butter into egg mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. Pour mixture back into saucepan and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is very thick, 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Transfer curd to a glass or plastic container. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it onto the top of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

For Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Place 16 paper muffin cup liners in muffin cups. Set aside.
  3. Lightly spoon cake flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Sift together flour and 3/4 cup powdered sugar into a medium bowl; repeat the procedure 2 times.
  4. Beat egg whites and salt with a mixer at high speed until frothy (about 1 minute). Add cream of tartar, and beat until soft peaks form. Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle flour mixture over egg white mixture, 1/4 cup at a time; fold in after each addition. Stir in vanilla and rind.
  5. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350° for 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan; let cool completely on a wire rack.


  1. Add sugar to a medium bowls and slowly whisk in juice until you reach desired consistency

To Assemble

  1. Using a serrated knife, carve out about 1/2 tsp divits in top of cupcakes.
  2. Fill a pastry bag or ziplock with curd and fill divits with curd.
  3. Ice each cupcake (be careful of the curd).
  4. Top with candied grapefruit peel or other crowning elements.