Thursday, May 31, 2012

nothing ventured, nothing gained

So, I've been thinking of baking on and off for a couple of months.  Obviously, the best time to do so is during the first May heat wave in years.  Let's back-track, though.

A few times recently the Baking Bug bit me, only for me to open my cupboard and discover (repeatedly, since I don't learn the first time) that I have less than one cup of flour.  Not too many things you can make with that little flour.  A few times recently, Mister's been up to his old tricks, wandering into the kitchen, wanting "something," only to be thwarted by the fact that neither of us has replenished the flour, so again - no baking.

This past weekend I was around cakes almost every waking hour.  I watched batter being made in large quantities and enough frosting (they call it "icing" in the South) to fill a plastic storage bin other people would use for their winter clothing or to corral cleaning supplies.  I was surrounded by the heavenly scent of cakes baking - chocolate, almond pound, vanilla - and watched as they were prepped for icing and then decorated efficiently and skillfully.  I was even lucky enough to have some batter slung at me while I was eating my breakfast, as a sister-in-law reacted in time to save a full cakepan from overturning but too quickly to put down the spatula first.

Needless to say, after a weekend like that, all I wanted to do last night, my first night home, was bake cupcakes and even decorate them.  It's rare that I bother with icing my cupcakes, as I explained over the weekend, because you have to be patient enough to let them cool and I just want to eat them while they're still warm.  Nevertheless, when I started daydreaming about what I would make and how I would decorate, I was rudely awoken to the continued Lack Of Flour in my cupboard.


Over the weekend, we moved the retail and service portion of our flagship store (which is currently our corporate headquarters) into a new location, just two doors down.  Despite the move being so close we didn't even need movers' assistance, and despite a bunch of hardworking individuals pulling a 14-hour day while I was sitting in Georgia sniffing cake batter, things are still a little crazy as everyone gets settled.  A little (okay, a decent bit) of that chaos is leaking back into the "old" building, where me and other administrative folks are still in residence.  By the end of today, one of my colleagues was clearly in need of some TLC and good, old-fashioned, female-tilted relaxation.  

I hatched a plan on my walk home: moist dark chocolate cupcakes, topped with something decadent.  Maybe I would get a decorator tip and food coloring and make a red rose topping (a wee bit ambitious for someone who has never actually decorated a cupcake outside of smearing an improvised "cream cheese" icing on top and carefully placing chocolate chips to look randomly sprinkled on).  No.... I try to stay away from artificial ingredients, so why would I use food dye?  Ah!  Strawberries!  Yes, I would puree fresh strawberries and then make a pink "buttercream" to frost the tops of these decadent chocolate cupcakes.  Hmmm.... suddenly, the light flavor of a strawberry creme topping seemed better suited to vanilla cupcakes, which I had no interest in making.  Then I remembered a comical conversation about Tequila-tinged cupcakes and rethought the strawberry theme - I'll stop at the liquor store, pick up some Pinnacle Whipped and macerate some berries in it, then plop them on top of a chocolate frosting!  But then there's the issue of transportation... thinkthinkthink... I've got it! 


As I sit here, telling ridiculous stories and dragging this post out as long as possible to make up for all the words I haven't been sharing, I am breathing in the thick, delicious aroma of newly baked chocolate cupcakes.  I used Dynise's recipe for Funeral Cake in her new book Celebrate Vegan.  I actually tested this recipe for the book, so I knew its intense flavor was exactly what my colleague (and I!) need to make it to Friday.  It is taking every ounce of my imaginary self-control to stay away from the cooling cuppers (though I think the large amount of batter I scraped from the sides of my mixing bowl and ate while they baked helped...)

I know, I can feel your sarcasm seeping through the computer as you think "Wow, Natalie, you made chocolate cupcakes?  Good freakin' job."  No, no, friends - it gets far better.

When I stopped to get flour on my way home (and strawberries, just in case I changed my mind), I also picked up a bottle of sweet red wine.  Again, nothing much new here, so let's skip right to the Big Innovative Moment this has all been leading up to:

If I actually let the cupcakes cool without eating them, I'm going to whip up a glaze using that wine.  The cupcakes alone are enough to give you a foodgasm, (have I mentioned you need to get the book??) but if the icing comes out even half as well in real life as it does in my brain, the complementary flavors will kick these sweets up a notch and a half.  Current plan is to do a cup of confectioners' sugar with 2 Tbsp of the wine, then more or less paint the glaze on or possible dip the nicely domed tops of the cupcakes to allow a little Hershey Kiss-shaped action on top.

No pictures tonight, sweetpeas, nor confirmed recipes - I promise I will return tomorrow with pictures, recipes, and reactions, but for now it's time to get to sleep so I can get up early and ice my cupcakes!

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