I’ve spent some serious time baking over the past few years — but by “serious time” I don’t mean on a regular basis. More like… 3am baking sprees that have resulted in 2 or 3 dozen cupcakes appearing overnight. Thank GOD for my co-workers and friends liking the treats otherwise… well, let’s just say the Fat Girl would be the Even Fatter Girl. Ha.
Usually the mini-treats are sweet, sweet, and diabetic-coma sweet. For an amazing friend’s birthday, I decided to go the savory route, as in chili and dark chocolate. Note, this friend bakes as well and goddammit no way would I even come close to her goddess-like skills.
But she loved them, double ha!
Mine is a bit of a variation on the Duncan Hines version (more cinnamon does the trick):
The real thing is much more appealing to the salivary glands, but pictures will have to do for now:
I’m hoping to experiment with a wider variety of flavors this year — last year was all about chocolate and coffee. Well, the coffee was for my addict sister.
I combined dark chocolate + fudge in the cake plus notes of cinnamon and cayenne (chili powder would be AWKward since it has a salty base). It gave the cake a bit of heat rather than being ‘spicy.’
Frosting is milk chocolate + cinnamon/cayenne blend.
Topped with sugar pearls and Lindt chili chocolate (which, by the way, had LESS of a kick than expected. Aye caramba.).
I also made the mini-cupcakes for my best friend’s bridal party, a few more birthdays, and at times just for cake’s sake. I’m hoping the standing mixer and decorating pipes from my birthday help me become more… inspired.
Personally, I’m on the not-so-domesticated bandwagon: career first, cooking can come later. However, I am starting to discover that perhaps there is some benefit to knowing how to bake, at least. I find that so many of the cupcakeries which have spring up overnight are not only repetitive (as in, they have similar flavors), but also ridiculously expensive. Seriously, $3.50 for a friggin’ cupcake?! The entire integrity of the baking industry is rooted in small-town kitchens, where passion for baking was the driving force. If profit came about, that was a perk not the motive.
Sadly, I will even go so far as to even say this: last summer, a friend decided for her wedding she would rather have cupcakes than a traditional cake for the reception. Alright, I said, how did she want to go about it? Her MIL recommended an internationally known cupcakery that originally started in the City of Lost Souls (aka Los Angeles), and is now frequently mentioned in the upper echelons of the baking world. She picked up the cupcakes the night before the reception, completely bare of decoration. To add insult to injury, the solely frosted cupcakes were to be hand-decorated by yours truly over the span of a few hours before the ceremony.
:sigh: How do I manage to get myself into these tight spots?
Nonetheless, I was happy to lend my skills to prettify the desserts. Since there were a few extras, I created a sample of each flavor. Once they had been critiqued and reviewed, we proceeded to taste the decor testing subjects.
UGH. Actually, the lack of taste of the cupcakes cannot accurately be described in text. Thick, dense, definitely not moist nor soft, the cake itself had a muted flavor palette that I did not expect at all. Come on, you hear about something being hyped as AHHHMAZING, then to be let down with such disappointment? I struggled to keep from making a face and managed a “its pretty good” through my cemented mouth. The icing, albeit thick and overly rich, was its saving grace.
I’m sure this cupcakery during its birth and infant stages was impressive enough to become iconic, but now… growth seems to have hindered any real talent which previously existed. My reasoning for mentioning this anecdote was NOT to bash on another baker; rather, maybe we could bring some importance back to the art of baking and making people happy instead of settling for crappy cupcakes?
Moving on… any flavor profile ideas, folks? I feel a chai/cardamom combination brewing…