February 17 - Envy, failure, and devil's food

Is lusting after kitchen appliances wrong?

As an urban dweller, there are many things I appreciate about my nearly adult lifestyle. My proximity to shopping, drinking, dancing, and varied and delicious foods is fantastic. This is why I've compromised a bit on the square footage of my hip Capitol Hill pad. Most noticeably in the bathroom and the kitchen. My kitchen storage space is nearly nonexistent. I have therefore been unable to possess the object of my desire: a stand mixer.

I could write poems about its beauty.

So when my friend Diane asks if we can bake together, I say, "hell yeah!" Why would I pack up and leave my familiar (if cramped) kitchen to bake across town? Well, the lovely company is one element, but my beautiful friend Diane also owns a fire-red super-sexy stand mixer.

Beat that batter. Beat it hard.
Yeah. . . that's right.

So I decided to try making devil's food cupcakes - a recipe I've never tried out before.

2 cups flour (I used self-rising, but I think next time I'll use cake)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened (Dutch process) cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda (maybe less next time - not sure)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs (room temp)

Preheat oven to 350. Cream together butter and sugar. Add all other ingredients except for eggs, mix on high for two minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mix batter until just incorporated. Fill cups halfway, bake about 18 minutes or until tops spring back when touched and toothpick comes out clean.

I'm used to filling cups 2/3 to 3/4 full, and having them rise in nice domes. This recipe behaved much differently than the others I've recently tried - when we filled them 2/3ish they waaaay overflowed their paper confines.

Oh no! Too full!

The tops ended up spreading out like cookies, and being just as flat. The cakes themselves were incredibly light. I am thinking I over chemically-leavened. Apparently self-rising flour is not for every recipe. Sigh.

Fallen. Just like my dreams.

After the first batch puffed and fell, we wised up and filled only halfway, resulting in properly sized cupcakes.

That's better! I guess.

I decided to go with a mint buttercream on top of these cakes - kind of like a baked hockey night. Or. . . . girlscout thin mints. Or ande's mints. Or that stuff that my dentist used to polish the plaque off my teeth.

Ah, the possibilities of mint-chocolate!

1 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp peppermint extract

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add 3 cups sugar in batches, alternated with milk/extract mixture. Add the rest of the sugar until desired texture/sweetness is achieved.

Look into the frosting. You'll see your future.

I would have added a teensy bit of green food coloring to make things pretty, but we didn't have any on hand.

So these were a bit of a disappointment. The flavor was great - dark and chocolately - but the consistency was all off. Waaaay too light, but at least they were moist. I also didn't add enough sugar to my frosting, I think, but again - the flavor was there. I would totally do this again, with a few adjustments.

Use your imagination.

But just imagine how cute these would have been with green pastel frosting and those little edible silver beads - French dragees. Those things are awesome.

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