My sweet tooth is as big as a volkswagon. I think I’m sending my dentist’s kids through college. Cookies, cakes, chocolates, any kind of sweet meats, you name it and I’m on it like a duck on a junebug. If I don’t have my daily sweet reward, I feel deprived and depressed. Lately, I’ve had a real problem with cupcakes. I think about them, I dream about them, I imagine myself making them and decorating them and bringing them to work to impress all my co-workers. Cupcakes plague my mind like that horrible song that you hate but can’t get out of your head. They haunt me like a ghost. I see enormous, translucent, cupcakes lurking in the shadows like delicious apparitions waiting for me to pounce on them and gobble them up…..and then they vanish, leaving me pining for their sugary goodness. Those illusive cupcakes.
I couldn’t resist their allure and I made a batch of chocolate cupcakes recently and brought them into work. They were so good, people were coming to my office inquiring if I had any more. For two days, people talked about the cupcakes. So, a few days later, I made lemon cupcakes to another round of rave reviews. We have a pot luck lunch at work coming up and several people have requested another batch of the chocolate cupcakes.
Its not really the cupcake itself that people remember, although there is a lot to be said for the fluffy little cakelette in a paper cup that you can eat in two or three bites. Really, its the frosting that gives the cupcake it’s magic. Its that rich duvet of velvety goodness on top that makes the cupcake stand head and shoulders above an ordinary muffin or geometric square of gritty store-bought birthday cake. I ate a couple of those lemon cupcakes before I frosted them. And its not that I can’t make a good cake batter, but a cupcake without frosting is like…….David Letterman without an office harlot, unable to function properly without the right accoutrement.
A simple thing like frosting can get pretty complicated. You can make a boiled frosting where you mix simple syrup into beaten egg whites. You can make royal icing that turns hard when it dries. Classic buttercream frosting is a fan favorite and has that smooth and creamy mouthfeel that lots of people prefer. Here are some of my favorites:
Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting
2 cups of whipping cream
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of good quality cocoa powder
1 tsp of vanilla
Put everything into a bowl and beat until stiff. I mean, really, what could be easier?
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 block of cream cheese
1 stick of room temperature butter
2 cups of powdered sugar
1 tbsp of vanilla
Whip the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar so it doesn’t fly all over your kitchen. You can add any flavoring to this basic frosting. A tbsp of lemon juice and the zest of one lemon made a delicious frosting for the lemon cupcakes. You can add chopped nuts, grated coconut and even cocoa powder to this frosting and it will be delicious.
Chocolate Ganache Frosting
1 cup of whipping cream
1 bag of good quality chocolate chips
1 tsp of instant coffee
1 tsp of vanilla
Put the chocolate chips and instand coffee in a bowl. Heat up 1/4 of a cup of the cream in the microwave and pour it over the chocolate chips. Let them sit until they melt. If the chips don’t melt all the way, you can put the bowl in the microwave for about 30 seconds on high heat, but no longer. Chocolate burns very easily, so just heat it until the chips melt. Stir the chocolate until it is shiny and smooth and set it aside. It should be barely warm when you add it to the cream.
In another bowl, whip the cream until stiff. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture until it is smooth. Spread on the cupcakes and put in the fridge to set up. Mind blowingly KILLER delicious.