First, before I tell you about these cupcakes and how my feelings got hurt by a bunch of 5 and 6 year-olds, I must share some exciting news. No, I am not coming out with a cookbook and no I’m not pregnant. Hopefully someday on the first and never again on the second.
Starting next month, January 13th to be exact, I am going to be teaching regular cooking classes in my home kitchen. This has been in the works for months and I finally have my tofu ducks in a row. If you live near Seattle, or plan to be visiting some time soon, I’d love to have you! Classes will be filled with food, wine, and lively conversation. And no shortage of Dana Treats! The classes scheduled for this winter are:
Vegetarian Basics – Beyond Pasta and Salad
Winter Seasonal Feast
Vegetarian (and Mostly Healthy) Mexican Food
More details, including dates, specific menus, and prices can be found under the “Classes” tab or you can just click here.
I have a summer birthday. That means that all through grade school, my mom never came to my classroom to bring treats to share. No classroom of 25 kids ever sang me happy birthday. I am realizing, just now, that this may be one of the reasons that I am such a freak about my birthday. The scars go deep.
So what is a mother with a November child and a February child to do? Make extra special treats to bring to school every single birthday. Just like I buy my kids whatever Halloween costume they want because my mom would never buy me a Halloween costume. (I actually had a very nice childhood and my mom baked and bought me lots of things.)
Kids love cupcakes so I pulled down my Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes cookbook and decided to make these beauties. I thought the pillowy topping, reminiscent of marshmallows, would be a huge hit and the almost universally loved flavor of Snickerdoodles would make these a slam dunk.
Alas, it was not to be. I got some sneers and several kids actually came up to me and said, “I don’t want it.” To that I said, “I don’t want it either so take it back to your seat.” The teacher was mortified and I found that my feelings were really hurt – by kindergartners. Do they know who I am? That my treats are coveted by many? My Graham, who made sure each child had their cupcake, ate his enthusiastically and yelled across the room, “It’s really good Mommy!” Whether he really thought so or he was just trying to make me feel better – who knows. But he ate his whole cupcake and incidentally, so did all the other kids, even the ones who said they didn’t want it. Stinkers.
Two Years Ago: Potato-Fennel Gratin
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes
1½ cups flour
1½ cups cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon, plus ½ tsp. for dusting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1¾ cups sugar, plus 2 tbsp. for dusting
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1¼ cups whole milk
Seven-Minute Frosting (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both the flours, baking powder, salt and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
To finish, combine ½ teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip (Ateco #809 or Wilton #1A), pipe frosting on each cupcake. Use a small, fine sieve to dust peaks with cinnamon-sugar. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are frosted; keep at room temperature until ready to serve.
Makes about 8 cups
This is way more frosting than you will need for the cupcakes but I am reluctant to cut it in half in case it does not work for you. Baking can be funny that way.
1½ cups plus 2 tbsp. sugar
2/3 cup water
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
6 large egg whites, room temperature
Combine 1½ cups sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230°F.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating to combine.
As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230ºF, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Use immediately. (DT: It took much longer than 7 minutes for my frosting to cool, more like 15.)