It’s been some time since I’ve baked. Mostly because I haven’t had a proper occasion. My family trips to NJ over the past few month have meant borrowing my mom’s kitchen to whip up some treats or simply providing the libations. Have you ever tried to carry a cake or pie on the subway, a short walk and two trains? Trust me, it’s not a fun experience. The responsibility of making sure the dessert stays perfectly straight with little bumps or bruises is stressful enough, but add a hot humid day and some whipped topping and it’s a recipe for disaster. Nobody wants to eat a puddled dessert soup. Unless of course it was originally planned that way.
A few weeks back when I made mini tiramisu cups, I bought mascarpone with intentions of bringing the supplies to my mother’s to cook. I can’t remember the exact circumstances but I ended up leaving my ingredients in Brooklyn and buying new ingredients in Jersey, leaving me with two tubs of mascarpone, an ingredient that I’ve purchased very sparingly in my life. Luckily the cream has a long refrigerator life if unopened. As the expiration date pushed closer I knew I had to make something. I canned some bourbon cherries the other week, realizing I still had half a pint left over from last season that we needed to consume. …how those cherries lasted a few year is still a mystery.
Today marks National Cupcake Day (like we really need an excuse to eat cupcakes). I’d like to think I jumped on the cupcake wagon before there even was one. There’s just something about their individuality that I love. No need to commit to a single cake flavor and please a crowd—a dozen assorted cupcakes means there’s something for everyone (except maybe those extra picky eaters). And you’re never required to share. Even if you get a monster cupcake from someplace like Crumbs, it’s an unsaid rule—one cupcake feeds one person. It might be the size of three slices of cake, but it’s a “single serving”, so you don’t feel as bad.
Cupcakes like most comfort foods have a way of making you feel better, or worse, or however you’re looking to feel. It might have something to do with the full pound of butter and sugar enough to fill a bath tub, or it could just be that these small individual cakes have the ability to take on their own personalities. So today, (or any day, really) treat yourself to a cupcake that fits how you’re feeling.
By now you should be very familiar with Smitten Kitchen and her glorious Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes. If not, you may be living under a rock or are not seeking enough creative ways to get your daily servings of booze. Both are unacceptable. I was first introduced to Smitten Kitchen and her boozy cupcakes at a friend’s St Patrick’s Day party. I’ve never done an Irish Car Bomb. After dropping in a shot of Jameson and Bailey’s, you need to quickly chug the beer before the Irish Cream curdles. Considering my idea of downing a beer still takes a good half hour, while others have already moved onto a second round, I don’t think the concept would work too well. Nevertheless, when my friend added cupcake to the end of the description, I was already in love.
I thought long and hard about this, but I will not be making Christmas cupcakes this year. Generally I bring something to my family’s Christmas Eve dinner and really wanted to bring cupcakes, but it’s just going to be too difficult. My dessert making will take place in my mom’s kitchen and while my mom’s a good cook/baker, she’s not a cupcake maker. Meaning I would have to schlep my piping tools, cupcake scoop, liners to her place, along with the rest of our clothes for the next 4 days and presents. And while my mom’s kitchen is FAR MORE exquisite than my shabby Brooklyn rental (that I’m not willing to invest any money I can’t take with me in) kitchen, it lacks one essential appliance.
Yesterday I shared my dream Thanksgiving menu, for when one day, I host Thanksgiving in Brooklyn. I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one. Aside from confessing my love for the cranberry log, I also omitted sweet potatoes. I love sweet potato pies and fries, but sweet potatoes baked with butter and brown sugar? I just can’t get into it. And don’t even get me started on the ones with marshmallows. Completely inappropriate for dinner. But then I realized–sweet potatoes and marshmallows–completely inappropriate for dinner but dead on for dessert. And a recipe was born.