Saturday, August 30, 2014

Learning from Delicious Failure

“Learning Through Failure: Mom’s cherry covered chocolate cupcakes”
Back in July, I got inspired to create what I call, “DC Cherry Cupcakes.” It’s a white almond cake topped with a fresh cherry almond puree and cherry almond butter cream. 

I took my regular butter cream and used fresh cherry juice as the liquid and used almond and vanilla extract. The result was a delicate rose butter cream, very similar to the color of cherry blossoms. 

I used a star tip to create a rose design on top. This is actually ridiculously easy. If you’d like to try it yourself, start with a large star tip (4 or 5). Fill your pastry bag (or Ziploc, no judgments here) with your favorite frosting, slightly stiff. Hold your bag perpendicular to the cupcake, and start in the center. Squeeze out the frosting in a circular motion until you get to the edge. Voila! That’s it. I kid you not, it’s that easy.

        My friends and family have willingly become my guinea pigs (ironic, since I’m allergic to actual guinea pigs). They loved these cupcakes! I was making a test batch, so I did a few cupcakes without the cherry puree.  
I marked the ones with the puree by drawing with melted chocolate on top. My friend Laura, who’s not crazy about cherries, loved the cherry almond butter cream. Hell, I loved it so much; I spread it on graham crackers! 

My mom liked them, but said, “Not enough chocolate” (I wonder where I get my chocoholism from?).  I agreed that they would be good with more chocolate. I decided I would try chocolate shavings in the butter cream next time. 

        Flash forward to August and my mom’s birthday rolls around. She claimed I didn’t have to bake her anything. “I don’t need a cake!” she said, but I knew the truth. I decide to create, “Mom’s Cherry Covered Chocolate Cupcakes.” I started with our basic chocolate cake recipe. I replaced the unsweetened cocoa powder with Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
and I subbed out 1 ½ teaspoons of the vanilla extract for almond extract. The cake batter, holy balls the cake batter, it was heavenly!
I made cherry puree by pitting about 2 cups fresh cherries, throwing them in a food processor and draining through a sieve. I saved the cherry juice for my butter cream. I added 1 teaspoon of sugar and a healthy splash of Disarrono amaretto.  

I stored this in the fridge while the cupcakes cooled and went to work on the pièce d’ résistance; cherry almond butter cream with dark chocolate shavings. 

I wanted the chocolate and cherry to stand as separate notes, that’s why I chose the chocolate shavings instead of cocoa powder or chocolate extract. I also added a little amaretto, because why the hell not? I topped my cooled cupcakes with the fresh cherry puree.

Next, I intended to decorate the cupcakes like the DC Cherry cupcakes, with the star tips roses.  What I utterly failed to consider, and some of you smarties out there might have guessed, especially if you’ve ever had a chocolate chip Blizzard, is that the chocolate shavings would clog my star tip. 
Not knowing this, I loaded my bag with a #5 star tip and delicious frosting. I’ll admit, at this point, I had sampled some of the amaretto (for quality purposes, of course, I HAD to). 

Imagine my surprise when the first rose turned out like utter crap! I was flummoxed for all of two seconds, and then I remembered my own extensive Blizzard experience and the chocolate clogging the straw.  

Normally, you could just scrape off the frosting and try again, but the puree was already on these cupcakes. I wish I had taken a picture of how effed up these cupcakes were, but my first instinct was to fix it, not photograph it. I did, rather pointlessly, try another large tip before just cutting the end off the bag and doing a basic swirl. 

I blame the Friday night dumbs and the amaretto for not skipping that middle step. Then arrived problem number two: The delicate chocolate shavings that were solid enough to clog my tips were also melting in the bag from the heat of my hands. This turned my delicate rose frosting with dark flecks to a dusty pink frosting with some brown streaks.

I stared at my crappy-looking cupcakes in slight despair. These were not the cupcakes I wanted to present to my mother. It was time to bite the bullet, or cupcake. 

I said a quick prayer that they didn’t taste as bad as they looked. I got out a plate and a cup of milk to go with my cupcake (professional tip- just saying’).  

OH MY F#@*ing CRAP, these were the ultimate ugly duckling cupcakes! The flavors did just what they should; explode on your tongue, do a little dance and party in your mouth. This, IMHO, is an awesome cupcake.  I do recommend storing them in the refrigerator. To quote my mom, the birthday girl, they are “Divine.” My friend Jen texted me, “Hoooolyyyy crap!!!!” and “So good. Possibly even better that is was cold. It was still gooey and delicious”

*Sadly, my mom went to sneak the last cupcake when everyone else in her house was asleep (so she didn’t have to share) only to discover that ants had invaded her container and were eating her cupcake. She did not heed my fridge suggestion. *

Now on to learning from my delicious failure: the next time I make these I will simply do a big only swirl design. These darlings don’t need fancy looking frosting. I should probably chill the frosting in the bag for a few minutes to avoid the chocolate melting. For your viewing displeasure, here are a few of my bad pics. 
Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog for more baking adventures, tips, triumphs and mishaps. ~Megan

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