Thursday, March 3, 2011

How Not To- Cupcakes

There are a million blogs out there that can tell you how to do almost anything (OK, some places my mind simply will not go) but sometimes I need reality. I love perfectly done how-to tips accompanied by glossy well lit photos just as much as the next gal but honestly, how often does that happen in life? To be more accurate: how often does it happen on the first or even the first 5 tries?

In the spirit of helping others, I’m going to sacrifice myself for the greater good. The oodles of high end luxury goods advertisers who have been begging to advertise on my site are going to be put off by my mistakes, mishaps, screw-ups, and poorly lit photos. My poor little blog will not become the revenue generating powerhouse it was meant to be but my friends and family will have exponentially more opportunities to mock me. And really isn’t that what life’s all about?

Let’s be clear here- the embarrassment will extend only to the home arts- cooking, baking, decorating, crafty type of activities. There will be no dancing on a coffee table and having it collapse under my weight (two colleagues at work STILL watch this unfortunate woman and email it to me weekly), no bad perms or wardrobe malfunctions. Even I, lowly blogger that I am, have limits. Still, I imagine that some of these posts will be enough for the truly Martha Stewart types to email one another the link with all caps horror over some screw up and I accept that. For the rest of you it is an opportunity to laugh at what will be unfortunate blunders and that’s all right as well. What I’m hoping for is the one well meaning soul in a thousand who will leave a comment about how to fix it/do it better.

Let’s jump right in. You already know about my mini cupcake maker. Well, all of the recipes provided included things like jello and prepackaged mixes which creeped me out so I decided to find my own recipes (with help from a book titled 500 Cupcakes).  I went with the classic chocolate and chocolate buttercream frosting. Here’s what I got:



(Don’t adjust your screen- I bailed on the mini concept and made regular size)

Non-professional frost job aside these cupcakes are like eating whole grain bread- not chocolaty enough and DRY. Really dry. Please explain to me how 4 eggs and 2 sticks of butter when properly combined and baked can turn into crumbly blahness? Then there is the frosting (don’t think I believe this is pretty). Here there is a lesson to be learned and I can already share it with all of you. One, when a recipe tells you to sift the confectioners sugar don’t roll your eyes and think ‘it’s powdered sugar- duh- how much smoother can it get?. Apparently, lots. So sift the sugar because it gets tiny lumps which will never come out once you’ve added it to the other ingredients. Two, use only as much sugar as they tell you because what they will not mention is that ganache-like frostings will set up once they cool. So you’ve added the sugar to the melted chocolate and butter and you think it is too runny? Leave it alone. As it cools it will thicken. Add more sugar and watch it turn into fudge. Which is not a bad thing necessarily but doesn’t work well on top of a crumbly cupcake.

So there you have it. Any professional (or even reasonably accomplished) bakers out there who have a great chocolate cupcake and buttercream frosting recipe PLEASE send it on. I will make them (not share them) and post the results (with due credit)- all perfectly yummy creamy deliciousness. I’ll even use a proper frosting tool!

p.s. as you can see the failure of this mission did not keep me from eating all but two (OK, one after last night) of my cupcake disasters. OK, OK....it will be gone after tonight but it's about not wasting.

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