One of my closest friends had a birthday party recently. Our birthdays are pretty close, so a while back she emailed me to ask if I'd be offended to attend her birthday party on the actual day of my birthday. I'm a LEO wife, right? Of course not! Who has to celebrate their own birthday on their actual birthday?!?!
It was a semi-potluck event ~ guests were to bring sides, appetizers, and desserts. Since it was on my birthday I thought I would go all out and make cupcakes. And not just any old cupcakes, mind you! Chocolate Chai Spice cupcakes. My mom made them for my birthday last year so I knew they are quite tasty.
I started off this project the day before the party. I have three kids, I knew it was going to take me two days to assemble two dozen cupcakes! Did you click on the link for the recipe up there? Did you see how Chai has some "weird" stuff in it, stuff you might typically have laying around? Whole fennel, whole cloves, ground cardamom, ground cinnamon, ground ginger?
Would you believe it, I had every ingredient for this entire recipe (including a Scharffen Berger chocolate bar and Scharffen Berger cocoa powder!) except the whole fennel, a stick of butter, and powdered sugar. So, bright and early on the day I got busy sifting flour, measuring cocoa powder, and then the fun began. Some of the high(low)lights were:
- Early on in the process we treked up the street to the hole-in-the-wall "medicinal" store to get the whole fennel. Oops, they only take cash for purchases under $7. I dug around for some coins in the stroller and with my three quarters got an ounce of fennel for 70 cents. Ok, maybe this trip won't be so bad after all...
- We booked it down the street in the 90 degree heat and picked up our butter. Success, albeit a sweaty one.
- Back home for lunch and naps. In between making everyone else happy, I melted the chocolate, beat the crap out of the batter (as directed!!) and soothed a fussing baby when Austin came to tell me "Mom, I can't do anything else to make Dallas happy!" (Oh I *so* know how you feel son!!)
- By 2:30 I'd baked a batch of cupcakes and the nightmare was beginning. I guess when you beat the batter for a total of almost 8 minutes with EIGHT eggs... you're bound to get some souffle-like qualities. What I *didn't* like was having the top look like a beautiful souffle and the inside being a regular, dense, yummy cupcake. That meant this huge air pocket at the top into which the crunchy top just crumbled.
- I decided to peel off/smoosh down (yes, the culinary term is "smoosh") the crunchy meringue parts on top and frost these babies.
- Austin was soooo excited about frosting the cupcakes. I'd bought some plastic frosting tips earlier in the week and he had been carrying them around, reading the package. "Mom, do you want to use the round tip, the leaf tip, the star tip, or the flower tip?"
- Of course I was too cheap to buy the fancy frosting bags, so I cut off a corner of a giant ziploc bag and started frosting the cupcakes with that.
- Things weren't going so well. The frosting wouldn't come out of the tip without a lot of pressure on the bag. Know why?? Two holes had sprouted on the side of the bag and the frosting was gushing out there. uh... yeah.... piles and piles of frosting all over the counter and cupcakes right where I DIDN'T WANT IT!!!!
- I ditched the bag idea (don't have to tell you how disappointed Austin was!) and started frosting them with my new fancy offset spatula. Dear Lord, come quickly!
Maybe next time I'll go my mom's route and just add the spices to a box of chocolate cake mix!