Memorial Day Test Kitchen

Here’s a snapshot on our wedding day, 1987.
I was totally rockin’ the Princess Diana look.
Today seemed as good a day as any to fire up the test kitchen in search of the perfect Blue Velvet Cupcake.  While today, Memorial Day, is a U.S. National holiday, our youngest daughter attends a school that follows the German schedule of holidays, breaks, etc.  That made today seem like “just any other day” and still I wanted to celebrate.

I’m personally invested in American military service members; my life partner served his country for 20 years.  Our oldest daughter blogged her experience here.

Ok… Blue Velvet Cupcakes with a ring white chocolate ganache or white buttercream and a top cone of red buttercream frosting…and some little topper sounded delightful.  Maybe a blue peanut M&M or blue fondant stars…not sure.  What I imagined is not what I created. Sigh.

I didn’t plan on the cupcakes being a test kitchen baking experience.  I didn’t follow the recipe I downloaded from  I wasn’t paying attention and wound up with a compounding mess on my hands.  I used all-purpose flour instead of cake flour (I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing – I love cake flour and have plenty in my pantry) plus the oven was a smidge too hot.  To add insult to injury, I used liquid food coloring instead of blue coloring gel.  They went into the oven a lovely battleship grey. 
 It looks less grey in this picture…and yet, not quite blue blue.

 hot tip:  When there isn’t enough batter to fill the tin, pour about 1/4″ of water into the empty cup to prevent damaging the tin during baking.

Baking results?  The cupcakes domed then sank in the middle with a crusted top.  It was so unpleasant and downright…ugly?  The upside was taste.  They tasted yummy and delicious (I took a bite from one and shared the rest with my husband).

Cupcakes on the left were baked at too high a temperature…the cupcakes on the right were made with batter in which I added some blue coloring gel (baked at the correct temp). It makes a difference.

With cupcakes looking this…err…bad, I didn’t want to bother making white chocolate ganache.  I decided to use my favorite buttercream frosting with about 3oz of cream cheese added for a little bit of yumminess.  I piped on a flat base of white frosting and then tested two different designs to determine if I preferred the smoothness of the 2A tip or my favorite 1M swirly tip.  I loooove the swirly, but went with the smooth stack since this was test kitchen. 

I didn’t have any blue peanut M&M candy.  Or fresh blueberries. Or any blue candy I could melt in my pocket and roll flat.  Red looked ok, white was better, and I think blue would have been best.

What did I learn?  I had to stay flexible today and follow through – even when I knew after the first cupcakes came out of the oven that we were rolling downhill fast.  I learned that taste always matters despite ‘eating with our eyes.’  I learned that paying attention is sometimes harder than I think and often times requires focused energy.

Progress not perfection…working the steps, living life, and baking cupcakes.

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