Why o’ why didn’t I make these sooner? Chocolate marshmallows! Why aren’t there more gourmet marshmallow suppliers? I have no doubt that I eat my weight (at least) in chocolate every year. What did people enjoy before chocolate? Maybe this is a supremely naïve worldview but a life without chocolate would be like never seeing a rainbow, experiencing fluffy snow, or smelling the rain. I just cannot imagine my life without it. What other types of flavors would we use to explain the fine notes that underline the earthy tones of wine and beer? The entire culinary field would be devoid of one of the worlds’ most influential ingredients! Relationships everywhere would fail because no one would have chocolate to emotionally regulate their overwhelming feelings. I cannot bear to think about it. I better eat more chocolate to ease my nerves.
Orange things are better! Just in case you didn’t know.
What is it that people love so much about cupcakes? I really can’t figure it out. I love cupcakes too but, for the life of me, I don’t know why. Sure they’re small, individually sized and packaged, and it is more socially acceptable if they come in crazy flavor combos. That’s my favorite part. I’ve made some odd combos that most people would be afraid to try and/or purchase if they weren’t bite sized and low-commitment. Mini cupcakes are even better for this. You can take big risks with little cost on cupcakes. That’s a chef’s dream come true. I once made a curry carrot cupcake with a cucumber raita icing. I used this space aged mix called versawhip to get cucumber juice and yogurt to blend into a perfect fluffy icing. Not everyone’s cup of chai but I loved them. I used fresh turmeric and ground all the spices myself so that added a fresh flavor that was unparalleled. You just can’t get away with that type of shit on a whole cake.
I made some decadent and over-the-top chocolate cupcakes for this post. I went all out with a dark chocolate cake, dark chocolate ganache center and chocolate buttercream. A real crowd pleaser. Shut up and take my money.
Now I’m going to get down to the nitty gritty: cake to icing ratio. It’s important. Lately every time I see a cupcake in a shop or in a magazine it looks like it has been abusing buttercream steroids. Bigger does not mean better. I don’t know where it started. What bakery was patient zero for the “more is better” mentality? It’s like one year all the cupcakes went to a conference in Texas and came back infected with some mind-numbing sugar virus. I don’t want to OD on icing. I don’t care how good it is.
More than anything I don’t want to spend the rest of the day trying to get the cloying sweet taste out of my mouth. The texture! It’s like your mouth is coated in this film and no matter what you do you can’t swallow it down. Uber gross. Especially if the baker put my arch nemesis into the mix: shortening. My distaste for shortening is finely balanced between it’s utility and it’s mouth feel. It’s good for a lot of things but it makes the mouth feel of an icing repugnant. DON’T DO IT!
Next time you go to buy a cupcake, or even better to make one, remember that this unassuming dessert deserves some respect. What started out as a mere plebeian bake sale bystander has now colonized every dessert display. Cupcakes now have a mighty empire of wild people wielding spatulas willing to defend their honor. Maybe they learned a thing or two in Texas.
Work in progress! Dark chocolate cupcake, filled with dark chocolate ganache, topped with chocolate buttercream. I know it’s been a productive day when my puppy has to lick up after me!