Today I made my first foray into the chic world of cupcakes. For this week's Tuesday Foody Get-Together, we're skipping restaurants in favor of a Mexican-themed potluck. I figured it was as good a time as any for me to volunteer to make cupcakes.
I put a couple more pictures up on my Flickr, check 'em out here if you like.
In keeping with the Mexican food theme -- the way that white people do, anyway -- I decided to try making lime cupcakes, and from the way it smells, I did great. To provide an alternative, I made a batch of strawberry cupcakes. Both recipes were jotted down from somewhere on the Internet, and what appealed to me about them was (a) that they were both from scratch and (b) they utilized the fresh fruit in the batter (strawberry in the frosting, even).
When it comes to the kitchen, my biggest weakness is in the realm of baking. I do not like to cook with precision and measurement -- I like stuff that can be thrown together in a pot or pan, the end. But baking? It's all chemistry! If ingredients are not perfectly measured, I might be up Crap Creek with mushy cupcakes for a paddle. So I get nervous when I bake.
The lime cupcakes required zest and juice, so that batter smelled SOOOO good. Also, because I'm stubborn and I don't want to use bottled key lime juice, I had to juice, like, a freaking dozen key limes. Not with a juicer, no -- with a GARLIC PRESS. It worked PERFECTLY, because key limes are so tiny. And delicious.
For the strawberry cupcakes, I had to make a flavorful strawberry puree. I simmered halved strawberries and sugar for about 15 minutes, then threw 'em in a blender and chilled the puree. This would go in both the batter and the frosting. I slightly overcooked the strawberry cupcakes, so they kind of taste/look like a frosted strawberry muffin instead (I ate the strawberry one that I accidentally plunged my thumb into -- it was a sincere accident).
One major problem I encountered was that I couldn't find the electric mixer so I had to mix two batches of batter and two batches of frosting with my poor, persevering right arm. I couldn't get enough air into the frosting this way, so they ended up more creamy and gooey than light and fluffy. Still delicious, though.
The decorating part was the most fun, even though I was disappointed with the slight runny quality of both batches of frosting. It was pretty and glossy frosting, though -- both batches of frosting were made chiefly of cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar, with little flavor-relevant tweaks to each, of course. I dropped dollops on top and went to town with the leftover fruit and sprinkles my mom had tucked away in the pantry. I love the way the blue crystals look against the soft green of the lime frosting. And the teeny-tiny wedges of key lime! HOW CUTE!!!
Tomorrow I have to haul them carefully in a cooler, so they don't melt and sog all over the place while sitting in my car for five hours. If they do melt and sog in my car anyway, this journal will hear all about it, and so will everyone else. I'll be crying like a Rancor master.