Monday, September 24, 2012

"Hot Milk" Vanilla Cupcakes

According to Conde Nast, Miette is ranked one of the top ten pastry shops in the world.  If you live in the Bay Area or visiting, you are lucky enough to be able to experience this charming and delightful pasty shop for yourself.  With location in San Francisco, Oakland and now in Larkspur, there is a location to suit most everyone.

I first experienced this enchanting, whimsical shop at San Francisco’s Ferry Building.  It is a feast for the eyes with the pastel colors and abundance of tasty treats.  Each item is perfectly executed in both the final results and the adorable packaging.  With Miette translating from French to English, it means “crumb”.  It is a baker’s term for describing the texture of the cake. 

The chef and owner, Meg Ray takes great pride in each of her recipes.  Her love for baking stemmed from her youth and reading her mother’s cookbooks; with her favorite being Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.  With her trips to Paris she gained an appreciation for exquisite pastries along with an artful eye for packaging and presentation.

When the Miette cookbook was released in 2011, I quickly logged onto Amazon to order and expedited the shipping to my house.  The book is filled with recipes for cakes, frostings, tarts, cookies, bars, pastries and candy.  Each recipe is packed with great tips and techniques.  I am simply fascinated with the terrific technique Meg utilizes and in awe of her baking prowess. 

Several weeks ago I visited the Miette location in Jack London Square to pick up a few goodies.  I spied this tiny package of pre-made decorative flowers and actually picked up a few.  I had a vision to make the perfect vanilla cupcake and frosting while adorning each one with the tiny flower and the little green leaf as an accompaniment.

After browsing through her book, the recipe for Hot Milk Cake intrigued me.  The idea of adding hot milk to create a cake was fascinating.  The texture is similar to a sponge cake and extremely moist.  The technique involved is beyond throwing ingredients together, but that is what I loved about this cake.  I felt a bit French for a day.  Smile.

I created a cream cheese frosting to top each one which added that richness to each little cupcake.  I have always been fascinated by mini desserts since it satisfies any craving with a one to two bite delight.  Plus they just look so darn cute.  The flower confection simply completed these little wonders.  I brought some to the neighbors, sent some off to work with my hubby and the rest were enjoyed by my co-workers.  Nice way to start the week off!

Hot Milk Cake

1 1/3 Cup Flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ Cup salted butter
½ Cup Milk
1 ½ Cup Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium low heat, combine the butter and milk together.  Heat until butter is melted.  Let sit off the burner until a thermometer reads 80 to 85 degrees. Whisk occasionally to keep the mixture combined.

Use a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water to create a double boiler.  Whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla in the glass bowl and add to the top of the pan without having the water touch the bottom of the bowl.  Gently warm the mixture over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves and the thermometer reads 110 degrees.  Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat the mixture until light and fluffy and has cooled slightly above room temperature to 80 to 85 degrees.  This process should take about 10 minutes.

Stop the mixer and add the dry ingredients slowly until incorporated.  Next add the milk mixture slowly until combined.  Scrape the sides to ensure everything is mixed together.

Use a small ice cream scooper to fill each of the mini cupcakes to 2/3 full. I used a mini muffin pan for the cupcakes. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until the sides just start to turn golden brown.  Remove from the oven to let cool before frosting.

Yield:  Makes approximately 48 mini cupcakes or 24 regular sized cupcakes

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

12 ounces Cream cheese, room temperature
½ Cup Butter, room temperature
5 Cups Powdered sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla

In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy – about 10 minutes.  Add the vanilla and combine well.  Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar and beat until fluffy.


  1. They're so pretty, Lisa, and I bet they taste wonderful. Only problem is that I'd eat way too many of these cute mini cupcakes. I wouldn't be able to resist!

    have a great week!

  2. wow these look amazing and wish I had visited this store when we were in SF recently

  3. These cupcakes are so gorgeous, Lisa! I love the flower toppers and Miette is one of my favorite stops when I'm in SF :).

  4. I would love to visit Miette one day. The book is fantastic and your cupcakes are so dainty and delicious:)

  5. What stunning little cupcakes. I would love to visit Miette. It is on my must-do list now! Thank you for sharing!

  6. So pretty Lisa, I love how the black contrasts with the white and the cake stand is lovely too. I may be trying these cute cupcakes really soon, thanks!

  7. Hot milk, huh? How interesting. Sounds like a great cupcake!

  8. Your cupcakes are simply stunning Miss Lisa! The flowers are so sweet and I'll bet the cupcakes are 'to die for' good;-)

  9. I've never been on the west coast but if i ever do i'll sure have to visit the bakery. sounds like a place i'd not want to leave.
    these cupcakes are so beautiful. i have to try the hot milk technique, i'm already thinking of ordering the book

  10. Hi, Lisa! Although, I have not been to Miette, I've heard so much about this famed bakery! I have their cookbook, and that Hot Milk Cake recipe intrigued me as well! Glad to see you tried to make it in cupcake form! Need to try this soon! I find all of the recipes in the book to be luxurious, delicious, and always a hit with crowd! The technique they teach is definitely European! Love...!

  11. Those little flowers are so cute! And, I'd love to visit a Miette shop some day. The photos in the book convince me I'd spend a lot of time in the shop! I'm going to have to try this cake. The texture sounds lovely.

  12. These cupcakes are so pretty! The flowers are adorable.

  13. just found you through budget gourmet mom, your post above reeled me in! These cupcakes look beautiful.

  14. Lisa, I used to work for Miette as their head baker for 2yrs...if you find the recipe in her cookbook for the other vanilla cupcake and read the little blurb about it, the baker she's talking about is me :) random fact for the day! great recipe book for sure, i use it all the time!

    1. How cool! I adore that little bakery and the book is just outstanding. Thanks for stopping by and sharing the tip of the day. Smile.

  15. weird, i hit 'reply' and it won't let me respond to your comment; NOTHING happens, strange.

    the GREAT thing about this hot milk recipe though is its versatility. want a lemon sponge? add some fresh lemon zest and sub out the vanilla for lemon extract. sub ANY extract...i made an almond sponge once for a wedding cake with this recipe, SO yum (i added in some almond meal too).

    and of course, if you make the recipe in cake pan, after you split the layers, moisten them with lemon syrup (in the miette cookbook) or almond liquer...anything to help punch up the flavor. such a great recipe!! :)

  16. These were DELICIOUS, but the centers of my cupcakes were giant craters! What did I do wrong? I am at high altitude (but don't usually make adjustments for it), could that be the problem? I'd love to try these again if I knew what to do differently...

    1. Glad that you liked them but I am sad that the centers came out like craters. I wish I was an expert on high altitude cooking but sadly I am not. Not sure if you did some research on Google yet, but perhaps that might be a resource. If I find an answer, I will reach out to you. Let me know how it works - now I am curious! Have a good week!

  17. I, too, love Miette, and Meg's story in her cookbook. I have to admit that it was the scalloped pages that put me over the edge in purchasing it…LOL! I went to SF in May for a Viennoisserie class at SFBI, and the very first thing I did when arriving in SF was to visit the Miette on Octavia! Upon entering the shop, I decided that the only apt description for it is EXQUISITE! I love her attention to detail, her humble elegance, and her melding of classic American with French refinement. Genius! As I read her book, I felt as though I was reading about ME! I can't believe I have not made the hot milk cake yet, but this post motivates me to do so. And I would highly recommend the recipe for the chocolate wafer cookies….they are sublime. The dough is temp sensitive, but after tasting, I feel it worth the extra care in handling.


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