[Eds.: today's post brought to you by Della - check out her bio in our guest bloggers section]
First, I have to admit this is the first time I’ve made cupcakes in at least 15 years. To me, cupcakes were a nothing more than a last minute contribution to a class party. I rarely make cake from scratch, or make cake at all for that matter. And, without exception, cupcakes came from a box. Second, cake should be chocolate. Don’t get me wrong; vanilla is a real flavour and I like vanilla, but cake should be chocolate or at the very least spiced or carrot. Vanilla cupcakes are therefore, the very antithesis of a decent cake.
I know I am not alone in my contempt for cupcakes yet they have acquired a degree of respectability in recent years. Entire businesses are based on cupcake production. Perfectly respectable grocers and bakeries have surrendered substantial swaths of real estate to display these miniature confections. A survey of the local Whole Foods bakery revealed a dozen cupcake options, yet most were merely icing options heaped atop a vanilla cupcake. It reminded me of an interview with the proprietor of Magnolia Bakery in New York who said, despite the delectable selection, vanilla cupcakes with pink vanilla butter cream frosting are the most popular. I just don’t understand why.
In fairness to the vanilla cupcake, I decided to make a batch, from scratch with three kinds of homemade butter cream frosting. I made mini-cupcakes hoping that a “petit-four” style presentation would elevate the pedestrian pastry to something worthy of my guests.
Baking is more chemistry than improvisation so I used a Martha Stewart recipe for the cake and the basic butter cream. I left a third of the frosting vanilla, added semi-sweet chocolate to one third of the frosting and raspberry puree to the other third. The result, as you can see, is more reminiscent of a banana split than an elegant pastry. Nonetheless, my “pequeños pasteles” were tasty and cute, but better suited to my young nephews than my foodie friends. I have concluded that cupcakes are best baked from a box and served to children. I’ll stick with my favourite flourless chocolate-hazelnut torte the next time I feel compelled to bake a cake.
[Eva: well, I would have made them from a box, so kudos to you, Della!]