Yesterday was my oldest son’s birthday, and although I do make him a cake from one year to the next (he’s 31), I didn’t this year. Retrospectively, I did decide that the cupcakes made as a Valentine’s Day treat for my two remaining menfolk-in-residence might be as good a reason as any to coerce me to sit and write something in celebration. My oldest loves chocolate cake, and had I asked what he might enjoy for his birthday, he’d have said chocolate. Anything with chocolate. Like his mother, he can do without the calories, so I think it’s fitting this year that a photo of a birthday cupcake take the place of the real McCoy as long as I can get him to look at my blog. I’m not holding my breath because as my grandmother would have said, the chances are “slim to none and Slim’s on a fast train out of town.”
Where was I?
Cupcakes. True to form, I haven’t tried either the cake or frosting recipe before, but have tried many others from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. This is the book I go to when I want to experiment. If you’re not familiar with it, you won’t see glossy photos of each recipe. It’s more of a work horse cookbook. What sets it apart from other cookbooks is the way the ingredients are listed. Measurements are provided by volume and weight which makes it quite easy to divide a recipe or to adjust ingredient quantities. Cakes are presented in one section and toppings in another and although Beranbaum makes suggestions about which go best together, I enjoy considering all the options. Each recipe also contains a brief section on “understanding” where the science is explained. As much as I’ve been an avid cook most of my life, I don’t always understand how or why certain ingredients interact with one another, so it’s helpful to understand what may not work when I’m experimenting.
What caught my attention with this recipe was the brown sugar — not something I’m used to seeing in a recipe for chocolate cake. Equally interesting was the recipe for the buttercream. Yes, it has an alarming amount of butter in it (hence the name “butter” cream…), but it’s made with egg whites instead of egg yolks, and they aren’t cooked as they would be in a mousseline buttercream. Both recipes work quite nicely with one another and make a very chocolatey combo that the resident menfolk finished off in a couple of bites — even if it wasn’t in celebration of either of their birthdays.
Speaking of birthdays, Sass & Veracity turns a big three years old this month and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to share with you that Saveur magazine has graciously nominated me in their 1st Annual Best Food Blog Awards in the “Best Individual Post” category. I’m very honored considering those whose work is sitting alongside mine. They understand the time and effort it takes to put a good post together — let alone two or three in a week. The post Saveur has chosen to focus on is one I wrote after returning from Puerto Vallarta last spring at about the time that H1N1 was gaining momentum. A group of friends and I met there in celebration of a 40th birthday only to find that we may have trouble getting back across the border. We didn’t, of course, and thankfully I was able to have fun with my own version of Mexican street tacos, which have absolutely nothing to do with chocolate fudge cupcakes or birthdays.
Are you with me?