Chef Watson’s Malted Milk Balsamic Cupcakes

It was hard to come up with a name for this recipe, because there are so many defining ingredients to use in the name that differentiate it from everything else. This particular recipe uses malted milk, balsamic vinegar, cheddar cheese, strawberries, bittersweet chocolate, maple syrup, etc. You can see how difficult I had it! All Chef Watson recipes tend to have this problem. Too many unique ingredients to pinpoint recipe types! What’s Chef Watson you ask? Well, ask, and you shall receive dear reader.

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This past summer, I signed up to be a beta tester for Chef Watson: a collaboration between IBM’s artificial intelligence super-computer and Bon Appétit. Their goal? To create an amazing recipe interface that crafts new and unusual recipe ideas.

 

You may remember Watson from Jeopardy several years ago when it was pitted against the world champions of the classic game show. Now, IBM is trying to teach Watson all about different corners of the world to make it much more intelligent. It’s being used in the medical community, for example, and now in the food world!

Bon Appétit is helping to create Chef Watson. Chef Watson uses data from tried and true combinations on Bon Appétit recipes as well as information about the ingredient structures and flavor profiles to create never-before-seen recipes. The goal is to give the Chef Watson user recipe ideas that are so unique they show the user new symphonies of flavor. (I like to think of it like the “little chef” in Ratatouille) Late this summer, Bon Appétit wrote about its successes with Chef Watson so far with some examples of the flavor combinations like a spicy tomato gazpacho with ginger, balsamic, avocado, and dill.

Well, I got my email this week that I was chosen as a beta tester! Needless to say, I was excited. I now possess the software that gives me amazing recipes at the click of a button. You can see how it works here. Basically you input a few ingredients you want to use or just have lying around, what type of recipe you want to make, and off you go! 100 different recipes pop up that range from classic flavors to unusual combinations depending on how wild you want to go.

 

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Today I put in malted milk (I’ve got some leftover malted milk powder) and balsamic vinegar, and I indicated I wanted to bake a cake. Some really cool recipes came up, so I kind of tried one at random. This cupcake has more of a cheese spread-type frosting with a dense cake that tastes a lot like a vanilla chocolate chip malt. I’m kind of in love with Chef Watson.

I did, however, change Watson’s original recipe somewhat because he’s not perfect yet!

 

Chef Watson’s Malted Milk Balsamic Cupcakes

Makes about 12 cupcakes

Cake

1 ½ cup cake flour

1 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

1 ¼ cup sugar

¾ cup butter, softened

1 tablespoon malted milk powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ¼ cup milk

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Frosting

½ pound sharp cheddar cheese

6 tablespoons (¾ stick) butter, softened

½ cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 cup strawberries, chopped

A pinch of kosher salt

 

1. Preheat oven to 350⁰F. Line 12 cups of a muffin tin with liners; set aside.

2. Mix the flour, chocolate, and baking powder in a bowl. In another bowl, beat together sugar and butter with an electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time and beat for a couple minutes. Add the malted milk powder and vanilla.

3. Alternately, add the milk and dry ingredients in 3 additions, beating in between. Add the vanilla and balsamic, and stir to combine.

4. Fill the paper cups ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP (!!!) and bake for 20-25 minutes. The cakes will be dense, so don’t worry that they don’t rise very much. That’s why you fill the cups to the top with batter.

5. Meanwhile, grate the cheddar cheese and beat it with the syrup and softened butter under smooth. Add vanilla, balsamic, and salt. At this point, adjust flavors to your own taste. If you want it more like normal frosting, add more vanilla and syrup. Tangier? Add more balsamic.

6. Fold in the strawberries reserving some decoration if desired.

7. Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, frost the cupcakes and decorate with strawberry pieces and shaved bittersweet chocolate for your Pinterest page :D.

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