Tuesday, April 6, 2010

frosting war and peace

Hi! I'm back. Hello. I missed you guys! First off, a big thanks to Aubrey for an amazing peek into her world last week! My heart...it smiled and ached at the same time seeing photos of the national treasure otherwise known as la mian. And the gai fan. Oh my. I will stop now, but you should seriously go check it out if you haven't already.

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?


  1. I'm told commenting is sexy...also, so are those cupcakes.
    I want to see the business cards when they arrive :)

  2. and most memorable kitchen moment would have to be the time my friend and I tried to make Mac and Cheese, but forgot to add the water. We were young and trying to be independent, burned my moms tupperware and at 11 my hopes of kitchen greatness were shattered.

  3. Is that "Commenting is sexy" I'm reading? Well, I'm commenting, so I'M SEXAY!

    Wow that was quite an adventure. But you did it! you did it! YAY

  4. Oh my gosh...that was painful just reading about those two hours! =0 I'm so glad there was a happy ending though! And that you still have some brain cells left from your test--yayay!! Congrats!

    As far as my most memorable kitchen failure...hmm I'm sure there are many. The first one that comes to mind however was when I microwaved a non-microwavable coffee cup, started a fire in the microwave, and filled the kitchen and house with the thick black smoke of burning plastic. I think I've actually done this more than once now that I think of it... And what was that time from the kitchen of East Asia when we were attempting to make something sweet and then discovered that the sugar actually wasn't sugar at all? A fact which Aubrey informed us of... LOL

  5. YEAH for commenting... and sexiness!

    and love that baking soda/powder sugar mix up fist! that was PRICELESS!!

    hmmm...for me... forgetting to tie off the scorpion bag which resulted in angry scorpions running around the kitchen was a pretty memorable failure.

    and then tonight, i tried to make "instant sour cream" by adding a bit of vinegar to yogurt... FYI- it only makes vinegar tasting yogurt! (not good!!)


Commenting is sexy.