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A Savory Cupcake: Rapini, White Bean Mousse + Spicy Tomato Bacon Jam

August 3, 2011 by Joan Nova in Beans/Legumes, Food Challenge, Italian, Party Menus, Recipe Development, Savory Muffins, Vegetables | 14 Comments

I was challenged to bring an ‘avant-garde side dish’ to the foodie potluck I wrote about earlier this week. And it had to serve 40 people! I knew I wanted to create something that would make a nice presentation, be easily portable, serve everyone individually…and, of course, be delicious. Greens + Beans came to mind because of the rhythmic sound. I envisioned a cupcake made of greens, the frosting would be white bean puree and the cherry on top — spicy tomato bacon jam. Layers of flavor!

By the way, I’ve decided to refer to this vegetable (heretofore known as broccoli rabe) by its Italian name…it’s easier to spell and type. :)

This is basically the torta recipe I posted before, but I kept tweaking, creating layers (white bean mousse, spicy tomato jam), finishing touches (bacon dust) right up until it was time to pack them up. I’m presenting the basic recipe anew, along with separate recipes for the spicy jam and white bean mousse. Use them together as I did or individually to create your own avant-garde dishes.

Tip: The finished dish can be done in stages (even over a couple of days),
saving assembly and final baking for the day of serving.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Savory Cupcakes: Rapini
  • 1 head rapini (broccoli rabe) finely chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1-2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 egg beaten
  • ⅓ cup (est) fresh mozzarella shredded (or diced into small cubes)
  • dry seasonings: salt, chili flakes, oregano, fennel seed
  • nutmeg freshly ground
  • ⅓ cup (est) equal parts bread crumbs, ground almonds and grated cheese (parmesan) for 'crust'
How To
  1. Bring rapini to boil, reduce heat and cover till even stems are soft.
  2. Drain, drizzle with olive oil and minced garlic; bring to room temperature.
  3. (You can give this a quick pulse in blender at this point or leave it choppy.)
  4. Blend with 1 egg, nutmeg, a few tbs grated cheese and handful shredded mozzarella.
  5. Sprinkle about 1 tsp of crust mix in bottom of cup.
  6. Add 2 heaping tablespoons of rapini mix.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees (covered with aluminum foil so as to keep moist and not brown top) for about 45 minutes until set.
Makes approximately 12 medium size.

 Tip: I never cook any vegetables in water. I prefer chicken broth believing it adds flavor rather than leaching it.

Once cooled, pack it up. Add toppings before serving.

White Bean Mousse was tasty but a little bit of a disappointment because the consistency did not let me pipe like the cupcake ‘icing’ I was envisioning. After several aborted attempts, I just spooned it on but the more talented among you can perhaps achieve my vision.

Method: 1 can white beans drained, 1 clove garlic, dry seasonings to taste, 1/4-1/2 cup evoo, zest + a little juice of orange and lemon. Blend till smooth.

Spicy Tomato Bacon Jam
This is a delicious recipe in and of itself, but I thought I’d share something I saw on the internet (I don’t remember where) about easy peeling of tomatoes. It goes simply like this…throw them in a zip lock bag and freeze them. Take them out, defrost, rub off the skin. 

It works!

 Spicy Tomato Bacon Jam

  1. 8 Roma tomatoes chopped, 1 cup sweet onions chopped, 2 cloves garlic smashed and minced, honey, balsamic.
  2. Slow cook onions and garlic in evoo.
  3. Add dry seasonings + red chili flakes.
  4. Add tomatoes and raise heat till some of liquid cooks out.
  5. Add 1/4 cup (est) balsamic, 1/4 cup (est) crumbled peppered bacon and cook down on simmer for about 1/2 hour.
  6. Add 1/4 c (est) honey and simmer for additional 30 minutes.

Bacon Dust
Pulverize a handful of peppered bacon in blender and toast in oven.
To serve, pipe (or spoon) white bean mousse, add tomato jam and sprinkle bacon dust.

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. These are definitely not your mother’s cupcakes. Full of layers of flavors. I am so impressed Joan. Also nice to use the word rapini. The first time I asked for broccoli rabe in a market, they said, “oh, you mean rapini.”

    I really love the tomato jam. I’m thinking it must have many uses around the kitchen.

  2. norma says:

    You did it again…I am also thinking that the jam has lots of uses. Que rico!

  3. J- those pics are stunning!

  4. Katie says:

    What a fun twist on the cupcake! The spicy tomato bacon jam sounds very interesting. I can imagine lots of recipes where that would add a special touch.

  5. Delicioso. Like the tomato and bacon jam particularly.

  6. A fantastic creation, Joan! I love all the elements especially the white bean mousse and the bacon dust. And t he tomato jam of course – i recently made a tomato jam, really enjoyed it.

  7. From the creative mind of Joan Nova comes this beautiful creation! Love your work Joan…always taking it a step further (oh! and that bacon jam!).

  8. Fragrant and delightful this tomato bacon jam.

    Those cupcakes are something I can sink my teeth into, right now :)



  9. Penny says:

    This is so creative. Love every component of this dish and how beautiful too. Great job Joan!

  10. Manu says:

    What a great idea! I have never eaten a savoury cupcake… but it does make perfect sense! Lovely idea and tasty recipe!!

  11. Love the layering here and the interplay of flavors; I am not crazy about bacon, but I think here it adds a necessary zest to the veggies and legumes. what a fun cupcake!

  12. Lori Lynn says:

    Oh Joan – I love this, savory cupcakes, brilliant!

  13. These are not your grandmas cupcakes for sure! You brung it girl and at a WHOLE new level! Hats off to your creativity :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  14. What an awesome recipe idea. I love the idea of a savory cupcake. I can’t say I have ever tried one but now I am very tempted.

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