Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Take a Bite of Summer!

It never fails around here: it'll be freezing outside, so I'll make an appropriate dessert to warm my insides, and later that day, the outside world will have turned into a sauna. Or it will be nearing 100, I will buy all the ice cream, and then a cold front will move in for a week. As if living in Clovis itself wasn't a big enough joke, Mother Nature always like to throw in a one-two punch just to remind me Clovis can always find a way to be worse. Case in point: last weekend I was in a swimsuit eating grilled brats and cupcakes (more on those in a minute, obviously). Today I am curled into a tiny blanket burrito wondering why June 1st feels as rainy and cold as February 1st, and if I'm actually turning into a real barometer and not just a human one...hello old age, I can literally feel you in my bones. Needless to say, my summertime cupcakes have been carefully, albeit angrily, placed into the freezer for the time being. Because summer conjures up images of sand, sun, and rum, not huddling for warmth, sadness, and well, still some rum. I'm closing my eyes to imagine the deluge of rain pouring down outside is the ocean, but all that's happening is that I might have to pee now. I suppose now would be the time to look forward--after all, how many 50 degree days does anyone get in June--in a week I'll literally be burning to death under the desert sun, but at least my cupcakes will be appropriate again. As a seasonal eater, I simply believe certain foods need to be consumed certain times of the year. Case in point: Have you ever seen anyone eat a S'more in December? Exactly. So what would prevent me from eating these cupcakes just because a few feet of rain has fallen in the last twelve hours along with the temp? Well, these cupcakes are the epitome of summer. These cupcakes beg to be eaten under a hot sun with a cold one in the other hand. These cupcakes are Malibu rum cupcakes with Malibu rum buttercream (so technically, you're double fisting it).
They're so ready for summer, they even come with their own umbrella!
I tried to embody the beach as best as I could with these cupcakes. I had a limited amount of time to throw these together or I probably would've found a way to make these even more summery by adding shark fins to them. Literally the best thing about summer is undoubtedly Shark Week. Getting people to take huge bites out of these cupcakes was as close as I was gonna get, but it works. Maybe Shark Week speaks to me because much like the shark, I'll eat anything that fits in my mouth and I prefer solitude? People are often a little scared of me and marvel at my weirdness, so I've got that going for me, too. I'll have to petition the Discovery Channel for a Kate Week. My mom would probably be the only person that watched, save for a few enemies looking for my mortal weakness.
Yep, that easy.
These are so QUICK to make. Seriously, make these for your next Fourth of Ju-luau party to celebrate America the best way possible: with cupcakes chock-full of booze! "My country tis of the, sweet land of boozy treats!"

I've got some recommendations for you here:
  • Use a white cake mix, as it has the least amount of natural flavor to allow the rum to shine through.
  • Doctor the box mix by adding an additional egg white, using butter instead of oil and doubling the amount, and replace water with milk and rum.
    • This box recipe called for 1 1/4 cups of water. You could go for really rummy cupcakes and use 1/2 cup of rum and 3/4 cup of milk (I wish I would've done this!). Or if you're testing out a crazy genius idea and don't want to end up accidentally drunk while trying to operate a stand mixer, you can use 1/4 cup of rum and 1 cup of milk. I did this, but the rum taste in the cupcakes was very faint. Live and learn!
  •  Optional: add in a tiny (like 1/4 tsp) splash of vanilla and almond extract. If you use the 1/2 cup of rum, this should be an excellent addition for taste. I only used 1/4 cup of rum, so the vanilla and almond overpowered the rum taste. People still ate them, all was not lost.
  • I also recommend using a coconut rum and not a spiced rum. Malibu has that perfect summertime flavor, like tanning oil in digestible form.
  • Bake according to package temp and time.
Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove to finish cooling on a rack.
While the cupcakes are cooling, make your rum buttercream. I made a very large amount because I wanted to get wild and crazy with the frosting. And, taste testing reasons... You need:
  • 1 1/2 cups of butter at room temp
  • 7-8 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 6-7 TBS Malibu Rum
  • Optional: crushed Nilla Wafers for "sand" and cocktail umbrellas for decorating
 Cream the butter until nice and fluffy, then add in the vanilla, two cups of sugar, and two tablespoons of rum. Mix well, scrape the bowl, and then add in two more cups of sugar and two more tablespoons of rum. Repeat this process until you have enough frosting to decorate your cupcakes. I used 8 cups of sugar and 7 TBS of rum for 24 cupcakes. This is not too rummy by any means. You can taste the Malibu lingers on your tongue with each bite, but it is not so powerful you'll fail a breathalyzer, promise.
For a simple swirl, use a 1M tip.
Like so. Finish off with a sprinkling of crushed Nilla Wafers. This right here looks like the perfect soft serve ice cream cone. Dammit rain, go away, you're harshing my food vibe!
Complete the look by angling a cocktail umbrella into the top!
With the other dozen, I wanted to create a mini beach. I took a bowl of crushed of Nilla Wafers to place next to my cupcakes. Then I used my 1M tip and created a ring around the outside edge of the cupcake.
Then I gently rolled it in the "sand."

And repeated on all 12.
Then I got out a new piping bag fitted with another 1M tip and painted gel dye on the inside edges of the bag.
And I filled it with the remaining frosting, doing my best not to get blue dye all over myself and failing miserably, of course.
Then just pipe little swirls into the middle of the "sand." Presto! A wave of blue and white "ocean," we shall say. I repeated on all 12 and also added umbrellas to these, but they are cute without, too. But I have literally no use for 60 leftover cocktail umbrellas, so I was using 12 more come hell or high water.
 While this may be a white cake base, the addition of the rum and extra egg white make these cupcakes as light and fluffy as little individual Angel food cake servings, but without all the extra work and swearing that comes with making them! Seriously, these will melt on your tongue like any good summertime rum-based drink should. And they'll last about as long as a pitcher of cold piƱa coladas, so be sure to grab one fast, or in the case of our party hosts, take and hide some for later (rum smuggling, essentially). Next time I will add in the extra rum to the batter, but the buttercream icing...I could honestly sit down with a spoon and just eat this alone. I absolutely hate the texture of coconut but love the flavor (refer again to the weirdness I mentioned in paragraph two of this blog), so this frosting is perfect for anyone into coconut. Plus eating them just transports you away to white sandy beaches, warm sun, and a magical land where calories don't exist. Maybe I'll be digging these out of the freezer tonight to wash away today's rainy blues. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
Life's a beach, after all.

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