Wednesday, February 29, 2012

FAILURE: and other life lessons that baking teaches

When life gives you lemons...make lemonade. That is what they say, I think...
But life didn't give me lemons...It gave me little chocolate imploded volcanos that are too salty and crumble when you look at them the wrong way...WTF? How am I supposed to make lemonade out of THESE?

And OF COURSE this happens on the day that my good friend and professional photographer Shannon Millsaps has agreed to come take photos of my (usually) beautiful and delicious cupcakes.

So it is like three in the afternoon and I am like might as well start drinking, I pop open a bottle of three buck chuck and pour us some wine. I guess baking is sort of like photography, it's a lot about the process and a little about the finished product (maybe more than a little). Not all photos are going to come out perfect, and neither are your cupcakes. I guess life is that way too.

So when you fail, you have to look back at the process and figure out where you went wrong. And what else is there to do except start over, change the recipe, and hope for a better outcome?

I guess one other thing you could do is take your failures and dress 'em up nice and pretty and then shove them your friends faces. Not exactly sure how that metaphor works in real life except that sometimes the best option is just to laugh about your epic fail and move the hell on.

Anyway...So that is exactly what I decided to do. Meet Shanaynay and Rupert. Aren't they BEAUTIFUL? They love each other very much despite their flaws and lived happily ever after until I shoved Rupert in my friend John Averette's face later that evening. Shanaynay was pissed because Rupert's icing got all stuck in John's beard and then she wouldn't talk to anyone the rest of the night.

SO back to the more adult option about starting over with a new recipe, learning from your mistakes and making the preverbal lemonade...

 What the batter SHOULD look like!

what the cupcakes SHOULD look like

 What the Icing SHOULD look like 

What the Caramel SHOULD look like 

 What the finished product SHOULD look like 

And Voila! We have lemonade!

'Er uh... I mean Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Filling, and Salted Caramel Butter Cream, Topped with Caramel Drizzle and Sprinkled with Sea Salt.

One final life lesson from the kitchen of one very wise woman: Be careful not to should all over yourself. My good friend Michele Taylor used to always tell me "Man plans and God Laughs" Well I don't know about men or God...But I think what she meant is that sometimes shit doesn't work out the way we plan and if we try to control everything we will always come up disappointed. I don't know about you but I think disappointment sucks. Having hope is one thing and having expectations is something totally different. In the future I will hope that my cupcakes cooperate but when they don't I will just have to take a deep breath and bust out the dinosaur sprinkles and edible glitter and have some fun.

Fun Challenge:
See if you can find the hidden glass/glasses of wine in the photos!

Check out Shannon's awesome photography at
Thanks to Shilpa Reddy for the help with these particularly tricky cupcakes!

Recipe to come soon!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

For Julie: Who Loves Pie

Avocado Pie: 
The recipe for this pie is in the previous post for 
Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Avocado Buttercream

So I know it looks weird but I promise it is delicious! Anything with sweetened condensed milk is tasty! Plus when you top it with fresh whipped cream and pretty fruits it looks less weird and tastes even more amazing!

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie: 
A Family Favorite! No Baking Required! 


1 graham cracker pie crust
6-8oz heavy whipping cream
2 Tbs sugar
1 large can of blueberry pie filling
1 Tbs Lemon Juice
8 oz Cream Cheese
16oz powdered sugar
2 Tbs milk


Cream Cheese Filling:
Take  Cream Cheese and blend together with 2tbs milk and probably about 3 cups powdered sugar, really just keep adding powdered sugar until you get a consistency that is thick and creamy.

Place the cream cheese filling in the bottom of a graham cracker pie crust. Top this with whipped cream (about 6 ounces of heavy whipping cream whipped with about 2 Tbs sugar)

Stir in the lemon juice into the blueberry pie filling. Top the pie with the blueberry pie filling and spread toward the edges.

Super Simple! And yummy too!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Call Me Crazy...IN LOVE...With these Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes + Avocado Buttercream

Are you brave enough to try these spicy little sweets?

I have been obsessing over avocados recently. Being newly single, these have become my comfort food of choice. I put them on toast in the morning slathered in soy sauce, and last weekend I made an avocado pie, which was well received by friends on a weekend climbing trip to the Obed Tennessee. I started to wonder how I can incorporate avocados into my cupcake repertoire. I asked around for ideas and got some really interesting ones: Bananas foster cupcakes with avocado buttercream, Avocado cupcakes with Cinnamon/Cayenne buttercream, Lemon/Lime cupcakes with avocado buttercream...AND what I ultimately settled on, inspired by the valentines season, was Mexican Chocolate cupcakes featuring cinnamon and cayenne pepper, with a smooth and mellow avocado buttercream on top. OK so maybe its not that valentinesey (I know that isn't a word) But lets face it, my boyfriend and I just broke up and the thought of kissy faces and lovie dovies makes me want to throw things.

Quick Avocado Pie Recipe:

Put two avocado's (minus skins and pits duh!) in a blender 3/4 of a can of sweetened condensed milk and 1TBS lemon juice. Spoon the creamy mixture into a graham cracker pie shell. Top with fresh whipped cream and garnish with fruit of choice. I put clementine slices around the perimeter and kiwi in the middle, but mangos and berries work well too!

OK The moment you have all been waiting for:

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes:


3 cups all-purpose white flour (or 1/2 whole wheat pastry, 1/2 white)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cayenne pepper (or less if you’re very sensitive to spice)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups water
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp apple cider or white vinegar

1 pinch sea salt 
preheat oven to 350 ºF and place liners into a muffin pan
1. In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon and cayenne pepper together.
2. Add the vegetable oil, water, vanilla, and vinegar to the dry ingredients and stir. Do not over mix; a few clumps are okay.
3. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way, bake for 15-20 minutes or until a knife pulls out clean. Yields 24 cupcakes or 12 large and 24 small. 

Avocado Buttercream: 


1 large avocado, pitted and peeled 
1 stick of butter (room temp) 
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs Milk 
1 lb powdered sugar 


Mix avocado, lemon juice, and butter together until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar and milk until you reach the desired amount and consistency.