Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I'm Told People Like Coffee?

I know that I am in an insanely miniscule minority here- but I hate coffee. I was 17 when I first tried coffee in a misguided attempt to seem more adult at a Denny's (I realize ordering a Moons Over My Hammy with it pretty much negated the point). After about 9 sugar packets and 4-5 creamer cups, I managed to stomach the stuff by drinking it while holding my nose closed shut. Again, this had exactly the opposite effect that I had hoped. I have not tried coffee since. The smell of it is enough to remind me of the taste and trigger shivers and gagging. I may be the only person on Earth that could survive without Starbuck's....and when you tell people you hate coffee, they usually look at you like you just said: "You know, Hitler's ideas weren't ALL bad," or "I don't see what the big deal is about child labor and sweat shops." It's taboo. It's as taboo as actually liking the Kardashians in a non-ironic way. So when a spouse from our squadron commissioned me to make a birthday dessert for a non-sweets but coffee lover, I was at first very flattered and then moments later the gagging started when I came up with the idea for chocolate coffee cupcakes and coffee buttercream icing. Luckily my husband doesn't mind taste testing batter for me when asked, and he seemed to think they were pretty tasty, so I rewarded his hard work (or whatever) and made a few extra cupcakes for him. After I made the first dozen, I was able to get the gagging under control...
At least they don't look like coffee?
Cupcakes are a gateway drug. Their small, unassuming size usually packs a decent amount of sweetness, which slowly but surely leads to consumption of other delicious dessert confections. I knew I was baking for a non-sweets person, but who can resist a cupcake on their birthday? I'm fairly certain this is how I got my husband to come around to eating dessert. He used to hate sweets, so when I baked, I was usually the only person eating the desserts. Good in theory, not in waistline. But with cupcakes, most people have that "One couldn't hurt" mentality, and then months later- BAM! Shaking from sugar withdrawals and asking what dessert you're going to make for them next. It's a slippery (albeit scrumptious) slope.
You're gonna give someone a good fix, alright.
If you like coffee at all, even just a little bit, you'd probably find these cupcakes to be perfection. When Derek took a bite, I was met with an astounding, "Damn, these are good!" I was feeling brave and tried a bite. My taste buds recoiled in horror and my ego in shame- I'd finally met a dessert I couldn't eat. First time for everything, I suppose. However, they were really pretty simple to make, so if you are a completely normal person and don't find coffee to be terrifying on the tongue, here's the recipe that I adapted:
You literally have all these things in your house already, I swear.
  • 1 stick (half a cup) of butter at room temp
  • 2 eggs at room temp
  • 1 cup of coffee at room temp (I made two on accident--I really have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to coffee, but I used some of the excess coffee in my frosting, so, win!)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup of flour
  • 1/4 cup of Hershey's unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
Make sure all your cold baking ingredients are left out to get to room temperature- this will allow for an easier combination of items in your mixer. No over-mixing means no tough cupcakes, and I also believe not combining cold and warm ingredients makes for more even baking.

This recipe makes 16 cupcakes, so line a muffin tin and preheat your oven to 350. Cream together butter and sugar for about three minutes or until things look fluffy like a Peep. While your butter and sugar are mixing, throw together the flour, cocoa, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Once the mixing is done, pour a third of the coffee and a third of the flour mix into the mixing bowl. Get things good and blended, then scrape down the sides of the bowl and add another third of the coffee and third of the flour. Mix and repeat one last time.
I wish I didn't have to quit you, cupcake.
Take a large spoon and divide your batter evenly until each cupcake wrapper is 2/3 full. Bake these for 17-20 minutes/until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave the cupcakes in the tin for 10 minutes to cool, then remove and place on a cooling rack. While those are cooling, cook the remaining 4 cupcakes. These only need to be in the oven for 15-17 minutes if you place them all in the middle portion of the pan. Repeat the cooling process for these as well.
No cave-in's here!
Look at those beautiful cupcakes- no divots or dimples thanks to the evenly-tempered ingredients. I placed them into the freezer for 15 minutes to cool while I made the coffee buttercream frosting.
Yeah, I'm telling ya- these ingredients are just ridiculous.
To make the coffee buttercream you need:
  • 3/4 cup of butter at room temp
  • 1-2 tablespoons of coffee depending on taste preference
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1-3 tablespoons of milk or heavy cream (If you only use 1 tbsp of coffee, use 2-3 tbsp of this. If you use 2 tbsp of coffee, use 1-2 tbsp of this. The more liquid you add, the thinner the consistency of frosting. I used 1 tbsp of coffee and 2 tbsp of heavy cream to get stiff frosting for decorating.)
  • Optional: Gel food coloring. I used royal purple to continue my purple theme (I was told this was the birthday girl's favorite color, so I ran with it).
You'll want to cream your butter for a couple minutes, and then add in a cup of powdered sugar at a time, mixing well and scraping your bowl frequently. Add in the coffee and mix well. Finish up by adding in the milk/heavy cream (and dye if coloring) and blend well. I used heavy cream to yield a nice, rich, bold flavor. I think- that's what I was going for. I couldn't bear to taste it, but Derek loved it. Now, you can slather on the frosting, or make things really pretty. Since I was terrified of tasting these cupcakes, I wanted to ensure they were beautiful to make me feel better.
I placed half of my frosting into a piping bag fitted with a 2D Wilton tip.
I decorated half of these with a simple swirl. Start on the outside of the cupcake and simply swirl/circle your way in.

And end by piping a bit of frosting up on top and quickly pull the tip away to yield a little start like so.
I say candles are overdone. Nothing makes a statement of your true importance quite like a flag in your birthday cupcake. Wave proudly, little buddies. I also added a bit of purple sanding sugar for an extra festive look.

The other half of the cupcakes I decorated in roses. Start in the CENTER of the cupcake this time, and pipe/circle your way around to the outside edge. It might take a try or two (feed these to your husband), but if you work your way around with patience nice and slowly, you will get a gorgeous rose.
It's a good thing I hate coffee, or I would've wanted to eat all of these myself.
I'm hoping these cupcakes made a splash with the birthday girl, or at least her tired coworkers in need of a pick-me-up that didn't want to make their own cup of coffee. I don't think I'd want to be there when these wore off though- sugar crashing and caffeine withdrawals? I told you, cupcakes are a helluva drug, man. Gotta use these babies in moderation, or addiction is a definite possibility. I'm hooked for life; in fact, next week I'm baking churro cupcakes to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. I'm going to be delighted to have a dessert in the house that isn't a constant reminder of my inability to become a coffee-swilling real adult. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
Look at them, mocking me with their smug gorgeousness. I'm just not ready for the hard stuff, okay?!

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