Cupcake throwdown!

Today was the day of another throwdown, this time cupcakes. I initially wanted to do a really original cupcake instead of a typical plain chocolate cupcake, so I decided to try my version of a s’mores cupcake. I found a Devil’s Food Cockaigne recipe in my Joy of Cooking cookbook, and even though it’s an incredibly complicated recipe (this recipe looks to be a reprint of it) I wanted to take on the challenge because the recipe said it’s moist yet light and fluffy. Sounded like a winner to me! I baked half a batch on Sunday for practice, then whipped up a vanilla marshmallow frosting and sprinkled the tops with graham cracker crumbs. I made the frosting by whipping half a stick of margarine with vanilla extract, almond extract, a bit of skim milk, and about two cups of powdered sugar. When that was light and fluffy, I whipped in about the same volume of marshmallow fluff – which gave the frosting a luxuriously glossy texture, almost pearl-like. For my practice round, I omitted the almond (which helps to mellow the raw sugar taste) and put the frosting – pre-marshmallow – over simmering water for about 10 minutes to try and cook off the cornstarch taste in the powdered sugar (per the suggestion of Joy of Cooking), but this really didn’t improve either the raw sugar taste or the texture, hence the almond for the “real” frosting.I also decided to nix the graham cracker crumbs because they really didn’t make it seem like a true “s’mores” cupcake. I’ll need to think up something better if I want to do that another time (make a marshmallow filling and crumble actual graham crackers on a frosted top? make a graham crust base?). Anyways, the cupcakes I baked for the throwdown were almost verbatim from the recipe, except that I added 1/3 cup of Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa and used 3 oz unsweetened and 1 oz bittersweet chocolate because I didn’t feel like the test batch was chocolatey enough. I thought the cake was indeed light and fluffy, although not the moistest cupcakes I’d ever eaten – despite the recipe’s pledge! The throwdown ended up being a tie on account of my awesome frosting and Renee’s moist cake and yummy peanut butter filling. Fabulous! I really

A simple but lovely treat ....

A simple but lovely treat ....

enjoyed baking them, despite the many steps, because I was learning all the way. I also enjoyed reading many cupcake recipes en route to making my final choice. I’d like to bake some more in the future, experimenting with a buttermilk batter, adding pudding mix to the batter (which is what Renee did in the throwdown to make her cupcakes so moist), trying a buttercream or swiss meringue frosting, or trying a uniquely flavored cupcake. I’d love to try Martha’s orange-vanilla bean cupcakes or banana cupcakes with honey-cinnamon frosting. I think I’ve found something new and fun to cook … uh-oh!

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