Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hello, Cupcake!

Oh, the things my co-workers are called on to do as the "and other duties as assigned" part of their job descriptions. For the past couple of weeks, they've had to be cupcake tasters.

The party to celebrate my mother-in-law's 90th birthday is just over a week away, and in a moment of overconfidence I volunteered to bake the cupcakes. (Why? Why would I do that?) May I just say right now that those bakers on Cupcake Wars are completely lying to us. I mean, they throw a dash of dill and a splash of cognac into their nutmeg-scented vanilla bean cake with the creamy chocolate ganache, and in 30 minutes they turn out a dessert that Florian loves? Ha! Not buying it.

I wanted to put four flavors of cupcakes in the freezer well before the party date, but after my first recipe completely bombed (think sinkholes the size of golf balls) I knew I had to practice. I began taking samples to work for assessment by the creative types on my team.

They have become small cake experts, the sommeliers of the cupcake world.

"This is good, but just a touch too sweet, and I believe I'd add a little more espresso to the buttercream to cut that sweetness," one might say.

Or "I thought this was going to be terrible, because really, it felt like a rock when I picked it up, but it's great!"

Or "I think this is my favorite, although you might alter the cake-to-frosting ratio."

As I look at the remains of yesterday's sample above, though, I'm wondering if they are being completely honest with me. When I saw the picture of the last Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle With Mocha Buttercream, it struck me that not a single person was brave enough to tell me the frosting looked strikingly like something you'd put in a paper sack, take to the porch of the neighbor you don't much like and set on fire, then ring the doorbell and run.

Hmmm. I may never eat chocolate buttercream again.


  1. I have a good, taste-tested recipe for red velvet cupcakes and lemon cream cheese frosting if you like.

    Since I'm not good at decorating with frosting, I really liked their suggestion of squirting just a few "flowers" through the pastry bag. Looked nice and tasted even better.

    Susie K

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  3. Great idea, Susie! I may do that.