Everyone has a role.
Back in the 90s, Ryan and I were the bakers. Armed with Betty Crocker boxes (or Duncan Hines if they were cheaper) and cans of pre-made frosting, we we made cakes for weekend hangouts, birthday celebrations, “I got into college” parties, and so on. If memory serves me correctly, we also mourned the loss of new Seinfeld episodes with a cake.
This week, we were reunited in our baking efforts. This time, it was to create a dessert course for Ryan’s brother’s “I took a new job and I’m moving to San Francisco” celebration party. It will be Robby’s seventh move; the first being outside of Southern California.
My friends from high school aren’t very adventurous eaters, so I may have omitted the fact that the cupcake batter with made with duck eggs. (Our chickens aren’t laying very much in the middle of winter, and I have to save the ones we do get to fill weekly orders.) Bonus: one of the eggs contained twin yolks.
Good luck, if you asked me.
We went potluck style for the big night. In addition to making the cupcakes that teammate Ryan frosted, Barry and I contributed a batch of Thomas Keller’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Everyone else brought “something.” Here’s a sampling of some of the items. Not pictured: Ryan’s chips, Katie’s blue rum jello shots, Anna’s mashed potatoes, (someone’s) wontons, Brandon’s weenies, Janice’s mozzarella cheese platter, and Daniel’s Captain Morgan:
Yes, we’re in our 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s, and everyone had jello shots. Well, everyone except for designated drivers and Gareth’s eight-year-old daughter, Emma. The blue rum ones also turned our tongues… blue. Can’t remember the last time that happened.
And here’s my favorite shot of the evening: Emma at the piano, providing a little background background music to our mid-winter soirée.
Of course, the evening concluded with everyone saying we should do this more often. Will we really? Especially now that Robby’s up north? I truly hope so, because it was nice catching up with folks I’ve known since before I could drive.
And the cupcakes were delicious.
Notes from the RGB kitchen:
– I subsequently made a half batch using two whole duck eggs; the cupcakes turned out equally delicious.
– I also used a hand mixer when making a half batch. It was much more convenient than hauling out a stand mixer. While doing this, I also realized that since room temperature butter does not need to be creamed with sugar in this recipe, a stand mixer isn’t necessarily more convenient at all.
– I use leftover coffee from the current days’ pot.
– Using water in place of coffee is perfectly acceptable.
– Expect the batter to be a little thinner than a standard white cupcake recipe.
– The cupcakes will finish tall, with a very high dome.
– For a special treat, unwrap a cupcake, set it on a plate, and microwave it just until you see the frosting start to melt. The end result will be warm, delightful, and, as much as I hate this word: decadent.
Scharffen Berger Chocolate Cupcakes with Coffee and Chocolate Ovaltine Frosting
Light but chocolaty, these cupcakes are topped with an extremely creamy but not too dark chocolate and Ovaltine buttercream frosting.
~ Makes 24 ~
~ Ingredients ~
- 2 cups (250 grams) all purpose flour
- 2 ¼ cups (450 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup plus ¼ cup (85 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and warm
- 3 large duck eggs (or 4 large chicken eggs)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup hot coffee
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 cups (550 grams) powdered sugar
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2/3 cups Ovaltine powder
~ Preparation ~
Time commitment: 60 minutes
- Minute 1: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F for regular oven or 325 degrees F for electric convection oven. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
- Minute 5: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt together thoroughly on low speed for one minute. Add the butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat on medium speed for one minute.
- Minute 10: Add half of the hot coffee and beat for 20 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the remaining coffee. Beat for 20-30 seconds until the batter is smooth. The batter will be thin enough to pour.
- Minute 12: Divide batter evenly among the lined cups. Bake 18-22 minutes for regular oven of 12-15 minutes for electric convection oven (rotating the pan from front to back half-way through the baking time), just until a toothpick inserted into a few of the cupcakes comes out clean.
- Minute 30: Set the pan on a rack to cool, about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare frosting.
- Minute 31: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter, cocoa powder, and salt. Mixture will be very thick, but cream for about 3 minutes on medium speed.
- Minute 35: Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the powdered sugar. Turn the mixer on low to incorporate the sugar while adding the milk and vanilla. As the sugar incorporates, gradually increase the mixer speed to medium-high. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat until smooth.
- Minute 40: In a 1-cup measure, stir together the cream and Ovaltine. Turn the mixer to medium, and pour the cram in a slow and steady stream until the frosting reaches your desired consistency: smooth, creamy, and spreadable. Add more powdered sugar to adjust consistency, if needed. Note: you may also put the frosting in the fridge for about 30 minutes to harden it a bit before using.
- Minute 55: Spread or pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes.
P.S. The guests were very good about cleaning up after themselves. The morning after, all that was left was a lone wine glass and some Cokes.
Update from 1/30/2013: