It began simply enough. A Saturday evening lazing about in Adri's dorm room, wandering the internet and listening to the radio. Until, fatefully, Adri piped up "I want cupcakes."
a few minutes into recipe hunting the trash talk started. My preference, as always, was for chocolate. Adri wanted something more exotic. Next came the question of who would make the cupcakes. I feel, quite rightly, that I am the superior cook. Adri thinks that because she comes from a family with a long history of making amazing Cuban food, she's been imbued with some genetic culinary superiority. Maybe it's in that junk DNA scientists are always going on about.
Finally, the die was cast, the gauntlet was laid down, the cliche was overused.
"I bet I can make a better cupcake than you." I said
A quick trip to the grocery store later and the battle was joined.
I had decided that I would let loose my chocolate raspberry minions upon Adri's paltry horde of Strawberry Lemonade cupcakes. This shouldn't take long.
The cupcake itself was a fairly simple fix: one box of cake mix and all it's necessary components (we can't all be St. Alton, okay?), one box of instant chocolate pudding to keep them moist, and a mess of diced raspberries.
Mix and fill muffin tins. Adri convinced me to buy fancy muffin liners. Yeah... but she's cute. Bake until done.
Chocolate ganache is easy. Set yourself up a double boiler.
As you can see, I designed and built a proper double boiler which uses advanced thermodynamic techniques to properly melt the chocolate and warm the cream without scalding.
Equal parts dark and semi sweet chocolate go into the top pot with the cream.
Use what you think is enough. This is chocolate we're talking about. If you mess up, you get to eat it. There is no downside. Once you've got nice smooth melted chocolate, reduce the heat and mix in confectioners sugar until you reach the same consistency as icing.
I added raspberry jelly into the mix while the chocolate was still warm. Makes it a little easier to work with.
Once the cupcakes have cooled, spread the ganache and top with a fresh raspberry, a little jelly, and a piece of hazelnut cookie. Have you ever seen a prettier cupcake made by a straight man?
Now, I see James has whole underestimated the power of good food over pretty food. But not the fact that I am probably one of the clumsiest people around. I got a pretty good start on my cupcakes, getting the strawberries cut up, sugared, and lemon juiced. I had no way of zesting my lemon as I needed for my strawberry toping. So I did it my kinda janky way. Which is to slice the zest off the lemon, scrape out any pith you may have grabbed (the white stuff) and cut the remaining yellow into tiny slivers.
Throw those on top of a box of diced up strawberries, squeeze half your lemon over the top, and finally add sugar, somewhere more than a cup. It's not a precise thing. You can check on it every once and a while and if the natural syrup created isn't thick enough for your liking add more sugar and let it sit. Preferably this sits for as long as you can manage, even a day before hand.
Now I went to go make my batter. But screwed up royally in the process. Knocking over my half cup of veggie oil all down the table and onto the floor. This though, turned out fortunate at it gave us our impartial judge for the evening. She brought me more oil.Throw in the oil, water, eggs, lemon cake mix and lemon pudding (instant). Then as I had an extra half a lemon I squeezed it into the batter and mixed it all up. Pour and Bake. Also don't do what I did and leave them in too long. They got dry, even with the pudding to keep it moist.
While those where cooking I did the last part of my awesome cupcakes. Butter Cream Frosting. With real butter and real cream. It just tastes better that way. I unfortunately had forgotten to set out the butter, so had to carefully microwave it soft. I say carefully because you don't want liquid butter, but you don't want ice chunks either like I had. I managed to get it pretty good and so added the vanilla, cream and confectioners sugar and stirred like mad. Until I gave up and James did it for me. Because he loves me. :3
Now with everything prepped time for assembly! First uncup the cakes and remove a cone shape from the top (so the strawberries have somewhere to sit!)
Add your fancy butter cream frosting around the edge of the cupcake to create a little wall for extra strawberry goodness.
and now Strawberry Lemonade Topping! Pouring the remaining syrup over the cupcakes.
How ugly but delicious is THAT? Amazing I tell you!
Now from here we had but to be judged. Tasha tasted both of our cupcakes, first Jay's then mine. She's a huge chocolate fan, his were beautiful, but I had my lucky cupcake spatula on my side. I knew I was going to win this. All silly smack talk aside I knew the chocolate was no match. While Tasha deliberated, we the competitors sampled each others wares. IF you are a chocolate lover, a serious dark chocolate lover you will love his cupcakes. They were dense, rich, and velvety on the tongue. Only one problem, you couldn't really taste the raspberry, which was sad. Still, really good. On to my own, which the big thing was it was a bit dry and the lemon could have been more intense in the cake, but you could definately taste it. The butter cream was awesome and topping tasted just like you'd dropped a bunch of strawberries into the best lemonade you've ever tasted.
Tasha announced the winner. ME! She also had a problem with the fact that the chocolate completely over powered the raspberry. Not that they weren't good, but they could have been better. Jay thinks that maybe hollowing out the top and adding raspberry jam inside, similar to how I did my strawberries would have worked out in his favor better. He's probably right.
So what do we do now with 18 cupcakes that we cannot fathom eating? Give them away of course! We walked down the hall of my dorm, out across the street to the Really Fast Sub Shop and back again. Everyone there loved us. We've been requested to come back next Saturday night and any other we need to get rid of sweets. The last two cupcakes where taken by the cutest set of twins walking back into my dorm. One hid her face in her hoodie chanting "I can't! I can't!" and the other we talked into taking the last of Jay's. The second her sister had taken the chocolate one, the other dove for the remaining strawberry lemon. It was very fun. All in all, it's Adri one, Jay zip. There are more pictures in our picasa page that you can find right here!
Jay's Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes:
1 Box of cake mix
1 box of instant chocolate pudding
1 box of raspberries
1 part of a jar of raspberry preserves
1/2 cup veggie oil
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 bag Semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 bag Dark chocolate chips
1 small thing of heavy whipping cream
1 thing of confectioner's sugar
Adri's Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes:
1 Box Lemon cake mix
1 box lemon instant pudding
1/2 cup veggie oil
1 1/2 cups water
1 lemon, juice and zest
1 box of fresh strawberries
1+ cups of regular sugar
-Butter cream frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1+ teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon cream
3 cups confectioner's sugar