Monday, November 22, 2010

Cupcake Quest

I love cupcakes.  And I love cupcake shops where you can just buy one and then leave, without the rest of the batch lurking in the refrigerator.  We've found cupcake shops in Charleston, Savannah, Montreal, and a bakery that sells wedding cake by the slice in Rochester.  My favorite of all, though, is Sweet 'N' Sassy (SAS) Cupcakes on Main Street in Newark, Delaware.  It is probably good that it opened after we moved to Virginia because at least two days a week I would have eaten "dinner" at S&S between teaching my afternoon and evening classes at Sparkles.  (Hey, Lisa and Charlene and the rest of you bead babes!)  So now I just stop by when I'm in town to visit.  (Hey, Cheryl!)  I think it's hilarious that some UDel student scratched off certain letters on SAS's door so it reads "Sweet ass Cupcakes."

SAS makes my favorite vanilla-vanilla cupcake.  (Note: In cupcake nomenclature the first part of the name is the cake flavor, followed by the frosting flavor.)  They're so rich I can only eat one before I go into sugar shock, and I love that you can see the little vanilla seeds in the frosting.  I eat them sideways like a taco so I can get a little frosting in each bite, and I'm one of those people who thinks the cake is just there as a vehicle to get the frosting in my mouth.  A 1:1 frosting-to-cake ratio would not be absurd in my book.  The phrases, "not a frosting person," and "too rich" are about as puzzling to me as Olivia's narratives (23 months).  Give me the corner piece of that Costco cake, baby.

Locally, the only retail cupcake shop I know about makes icing one might find in a grocery store case featured on Cake Wrecks (read: first ingredient is Crisco), so I am not tempted to buy cupcakes there.  So my latest food quest is to recreate SAS cupcake frosting.

I love watching cooking shows, and a while ago I was watching Road Tasted with the Neelys when they went to visit SAS.  The owners demonstrated how they make red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing.  I didn't bother to write anything down because I figured they'd have the recipe on the show's website.  Fail!  Apparently the point of the show is to highlight small food businesses who mail-order their products, and an order of SAS cupcakes cannot be had for less than $50.  So I kept checking the listings and finally recorded that episode at 4am on November 10.  Steve manned the remote and I scribbled down, "2lb cream cheese, 1lb butter, small glass bowl of Madagascar bourbon vanilla goo, 20 cups of powdered sugar."  No problem!  Let's try it.  Notice that this is my first blog entry in a few weeks; it's jewelry-making season which means I've been busy, but sometimes a girl's gotta just take a break and think about something different.  So Friday night we were able to find (locally!) the gooey stuff with vanilla seeds in it, and yesterday during Olivia's nap I quartered the quantities and made my first batch. 

Vanilla Cream Cheese Cupcakes
Servings: 24

Make vanilla cupcakes following the directions on the box as the cake is of secondary importance and Betty Crocker makes a moist, delicious vanilla cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting
(It's not vanilla, but it's awesome!  Sorry, Elizabeth, I know this ruined it for you.)
1 bar (8oz) cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (so you can see the vanilla seeds!)
5 cups sifted powdered sugar

Combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Note: Never put your aluminum paddle in the dishwasher.)  Beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Slowly add the powdered sugar. (Anyone want to trade their white mixer for my snazzy, shiny black one?)  Once it has been incorporated, increase the mixer speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  The frosting will be very soft, which makes it easy to fill your piping bag but doesn't mound well.  Next time I will stick the filled bag in the fridge for a few minutes before piping so I don't have to worry about the edges.

I ate one as soon as I finished frosting them, but the frosting was so rich I had to stop there.  My second one was even better this morning as the sugar had all dissolved and the icing was cold.  Now I don't have to drive to Delaware for darn good cupcakes.  (Sorry, DE peeps.  I do have to drive there for Cheeseburger in Paradise!)

This was my first piping job so I used what I had: a cookie press with a star tip.  That worked fine but I had to keep reloading it.  I kept thinking of my college buddy, Andy, who was a Dairy Queen alum and showed us how to properly make soft serve cones that aren't hollow.  Anyway, last night Olivia and I went to Michaels for new toys.  Her a giraffe, me a decorating bag and larger star tip.  The cake decorating aisle: uncharted territory.  I could see myself buying all manner of sprinkles and dragées (beads! for cupcakes!) but I behaved.  And now it's Thanksgiving Week so I'm going to be cooking other fun things when I'm not filling jewelry orders.  Hope you have a safe and yummy turkey day!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi! I work at the newest SAS location in Charlotte, NC! So glad you love our cupcakes. :)