But instead of this experienced baketress you get me- the woman who just spent 30 minutes cleaning red food coloring off of her tile floor. Little tip- when adding red dye to whole grain strawberry muffins, don't accidentally spill a drop of coloring on the floor and then step in it and then walk everywhere.
Little red smears and blotches everywhere... It looked like a freaking lilliputian crime scene in my kitchen.
Alright, so on to the little life lessons I learned from the cupcakes I made for this weekend. First and foremost- don't promise to make a complicated recipe if you havne't in fact, planned out when you are going to make said recipe. I offered to make my dad some Father's Day cupcakes, and promised that Boston Cream Pie cupcakes would be no problem at all!
1. I've never make Boston cream pie.
2. Excluding ganache, I've never made any of the components of Boston cream pie.
3. I didn't even really have a full understand of what goes into Boston cream pie. (What, "yellow cake, puddin' and chocolate" isn't a valid description?)
So I did a little research, and started plotting out my pound cake and pastry cream recipes. Ganache- totally got that covered. I also decided I'd add some whipped cream frosting garnish. What didn't I plan? When to freaking make these little buggers. Long story short, I had one day to make these guys, and I wasn't going to get home from work that day until around 7:00 pm.
Well, let me tell you how well THAT went...
Pastry Cream Calamity
So I'm not what one would call a custard aficionado. In fact, the closet I've ever come to making a custard is lemon curd. And those aren't close at all.
So here's how this went down:
- Go to grocery store over lunch to quickly grab all the ingredients for everything
- Run home and throw my milk on the stove for a double batch of pastry cream.
That was my first error. Ok- in NO WAY did the recipe require a double batch of cream (even though I was making a double batch of cupcakes.) Lesson learned: One batch = OK
- Start heating 7 flipping cups of milk
- Realize milk will never boil fast enough for me to get back to work on time
- Split milk into two pans
- Put eggs, salt and sugar in food processor
- Realize all the milk will not fix in food processor either
- Split egg mixture into two batches
- Pour one pan of milk into the eggs and sugar
- Pour second pan of milk into new batch of eggs and sugar
- Overflow again
- Yell a lot
- Return both batches (with the added cornstarch and flour) to one big pot and stir like crazy over the stove
- Look at the horrible mess that is your kitchen
- Try to tidy
- Don't mix it enough leading to slightly grainy consistency
- Boiling commences
- Too much boiling
- Splatter ultra hot custard on arm
- Finish boiling custard
- Pour in bowl and cover with saran wrap, put custard in fridge
I don't suggest you follow my route unless you want to start tearing your hair out. With my luck, that hair would have ended up in the damn custard.
Freaking custard. I hate you.
But you're delicious. So I'll forgive you. Only a little though- because I didn't stir enough and the consistency was off. A good whip in the stand mixer fixed all this! I wouldn't suggest doing this normally- as that will thin it out a little, but since this is going inside cupcakes and not supporting a cake, all is fine.
Pound Cake Debacle
Well, as you may or may not know, I'm a firm believer that boxed cake mixes are amazing and can accomplish almost anything. So after a little research, I tried a new recipe that is much denser than the typical white cake I make (which calls for whites, not whole eggs.)
A resounding HECK YES on this recipe. Delicious!
Does that mean I didn't screw up this portion of the recipe? That's a solid HECK NO on that one.
It's 7:10 pm and I'm returning to the house to spend the evening whipping up some deliciousness. I've got two batches of custard in the fridge. I've got two sets of all the ingredients I use to doctor up my boxed mix. I've got one box mix.
So after my impromptu Dahls run, I make two batches of pound cake cupcakes. I then proceed to stick all four pans in the oven at the same time, because I'm impatient and frazzled and stupid.
I ended up with about 75% of the cupcakes being golden and delicious, and about 25% charbroiled and sad.
But thankfully, the golden delicious ones turned out to be hubby's new favorite cake recipe- so my little pound caketastrophe ended up having a silver lining.
So when the cupcakes are cooled, it's time to start filling them. Of all the compenents of the recipe, this was the part I was most concerned about. Should I inject the filling or core them? If I inject them, will I get enough of the filling in? If I core them, how can I top them with ganache without causing a horrible mess?
I landed on coring them, filling them with custard, and putting just the top of the cupcake back on to cover the custard. I thought after everything that had happened, this was probably going to end up a disaster. And ironically, this was the step that went swimmingly.
How perfect do these look?
This also went surprisingly well. I just went slow and steady and made sure not to let any drip over the sides.
So at this point, it was about 9:30 or 10:00, my husband was back from his boys night out and was aghast at the horrible mess that was in his kitchen. And then he saw all the dishes and gave his mess of a wife a big hug and offered help. What a saint.
But despite all this- these little cakelettes needed some extra oomph, so I quickly got my google on and found a good whipped cream frosting recipe. Apparently the one I had saved in my future recipe arsenal called for reduced fat cream cheese- so I immediately distrusted the recipe and anyone who would make it. I located a recipe that called for full fat everything and went on my merry way whipping it up. Quite literally.
So after only spilling one ingredient all over the floor (the salt!) I filled up my pastry bag and ended up with something that looks like this...
Alright- after all this, you cupcakes better be the best damned best cupcakes I've ever eaten.
These are SO good. SO FLIPPIN BANANAS good. The custard, after fixing the consistency, was rich and creamy. It paired perfectly with the slightly lighter than typical pound cake. The ganache, as always, was intense and fabulous and the frosting cut that intensity with a final touch of sweetness. While I might have felt like a failure countless times while making this, the final product was totally winning.
Pound Cake Cupcakes
Recipe from: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/grandmothers-pound-cake-i/detail.aspx
1 package yellow cake mix (I used "Moist Deluxe")
1 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon butter flavored extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients and pour into lined cupcake tins. Bake according to box.
Pastry Cream Filling
Recipe from: http://www.boston-discovery-guide.com/boston-cream-pie-recipe.html
Make a half recipe of the cream detailed here.
Dark Chocolate Ganache
Taken exactly from: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/chocolate-ganache/Detail.aspx
I did not change this recipe, so you can follow the instructions here. I do not add the optional rum.
Whipped Cream Frosting
Taken exactly from: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/whipped-cream-frosting-2/detail.aspx
I did not change this recipe, so you can follow the instructions here.