One of my favorite coworkers is leaving at the end of the week and to celebrate, we hosted our department's signature going-away party...cake, coffee and tea. Generally, we acquire a cake from Costco or a local grocery store, opting for easy and affordable in lieu of, well, flavor. I was raised a cake snob by a woman who, despite her love for Duncan Hines cake mix, made most things from scratch. So, when the chatter was audible enough for me to hear in my hidey-hole about the party, I volunteered myself for the cake responsibilities. I sent a list out, entitled Things I Like To Make and suggested that the coworker choose three of the ten or so choices. Once that was decided on, I pulled the recipes together, made my shopping list and set out to make the required six dozen cupcakes.
That's 72 individual cupcakes, in the event you failed math.
The recipes I selected came from three separate places: Joy the Baker's website, Ina Garten's cookbook and my head (the largest of the three? Likely.) I hypothesized that baking three separate recipes would be exciting for me, because how often do you have the opportunity to bake tons of different cupcakes for something other than a party? And that it would be nice for the folks who came to say goodbye too, because variety is the spice of life. Here's what I made (<-- that link will take you to a Google doc with the recipes [EDIT: The sour cream cupcakes bake time has been edited on the Google Doc. I didn't edit the cake baking time when I copied and pasted my mom's recipe. Sorry about that!]):
Jam Thumbprints are, you guessed it, the jam. And these cupcakes were also incredible. I appreciate that she used almond extract to sort of bump up the sweetness of the coconut without making them taste too terribly artificial or like tanning oil. Coconut can be messed up in a number of ways, but these cupcakes were awwwwwwwl right. I used a slightly smaller star pastry tip and made spirals on top of the cupcakes, then sprinkled more shredded coconut. I am not a fan of mountainous frosting, and a number of people commented that there was "just enough". Excellent.
endorses recipes found elsewhere, including this one which was adapted from a bakery in Echo Park, Los Angeles. The strangest ingredient ever...Ovaltine...was actually something that people adored. They said, "what is in this? There is something familiar?" and when I revealed the secret they were instantly transported back to childhood (or breakfast...vitamins and minerals, y'all!). One librarian and I joked that we could make these for A Christmas Story themed-party and dot the top with BB Gun bullets, or silver dragée. Hilarious. I was so exhausted when I applied the frosting to these cupcakes. Initially, I did a spiral with a round tip and then realized they looked like Dumpcakes, so I smoothed it out with my pastry spatula and left a thick coating of "artistic squiggle".
In reality, I baked about 90 cupcakes. Em was kind enough to help me wash dishes every single time I changed recipes, so I felt like it would be a nice gesture to leave some at home. The reviews were all amazing. People asked me if this was my "calling" including my boss-boss-boss, to whom I replied, "I don't feel like I can answer that question, hee, heh, *shuffle* I LOVE MY JOB!" In reality, I would love to have a side business or a REAL business wherein I bake delicious things and plan parties for people. It doesn't often occur to me that I can do that, though, especially with all the focus I've put on crafting lately. I have good ideas, I'm incredibly comfortable in the kitchen and especially with baking, and I clearly (*gestures to ample physique*) have some idea of what tastes good. Maybe someone will hire me one day to do something fancy and they'll tell their friends. And then I'll be able to answer my boss-boss-boss's question with an emphatic, "YES, I HAVE FOUND MY CALLING!" Until then, sleep!