Okay. So...what have I been doing the past two weeks? There was a test that went well enough. Not too many brain cells were obliterated by it, so hooray for that.
Also...entrepreneurship! (Fancy label for: Arijaan and her fam hosted their very first Easter Egg hunt on Saturday and asked me to bake stuff and sell it there! Thank you Bulks by the way; it was super fun!) There were some technical difficulties the day beforehand, most prominent being THE ONE WHERE THE WATER GOT TURNED OFF ALL DAY, one thing led to another, and all of a sudden I was standing in the middle of the kitchen at 11 pm Friday night, thinking about the acts of God it would take to produce the cupcakes and their frosting and brownies and snickerdoodles and banana muffins I had planned on making for the kiddies of Oakdale by morning with my sanity (fairly) intact.
Around 2 am is when things got sticky. For reasons only an unhinged, sleep-deprived brain could understand, I decided to be ambitious (WHY???) and make French buttercream frosting. Things turned ugly and catastrophic in the way that only overly earnest undertakings far too late at night go. Something about a soft ball stage, way too many egg yolks, and...the cause was lost long before I even separated the first egg. I should have known. Frosting attempt #2 was also a bust. Panicked, I started frantically flipping through the 10+ cookbooks I dragged into the kitchen for a Hail Mary pass at frosting redemption.
The short version: I found it (or should I say I caught it? I threw it? Sports analogies escape me), breathed an immense sigh of relief, slathered everything in sugar and even managed to get an hour of sleep in. Your take-home messages:
- Don't mess with French buttercream in the wee hours of the morning. It will only lead to pain.
- Make sure that thing in your kitchen drawer that you thought was a candy thermometer is not actually a meat thermometer.
- Always have a reliable frosting recipe in your back pocket (and the supplies to make it happen).
- Also...sprinkles cover over a multitude of sins. Amen.
The Chocolate Frosting that saved the day
(adapted from Absolutely Chocolate) (one glimpse at this book elicits a very Pavlovian drooling response from me)
1 1/2 pounds chocolate (I used a mixture of milk, dark, and whatever else I could scrape together), chopped
6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
4 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (optional, I left this out because it was for kids)
pinch of salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 teaspoons vanilla
Put the chocolate, butter, espresso powder, and salt in a large bowl. Bring the cream to a boil on the stovetop and pour it over the chocolate stuff. Stir until everything is melted and smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Refrigerate until cold (at least 2 hours). (Longest 2 hours of my life.) Beat frosting with a hand-held mixer (will be kind of hard at first but should soften up with more beating). Frosting will lighten in color and become more spreadable. Frost your (cup)cakes of choice and smile because that was not difficult at all!
Your most memorable kitchen failure?