Monday, April 28, 2008

Adventures in Baking

I learned something this weekend. Something very valuable. The recipes in those glossy parenting magazines are usually ten times more complicated then they make them out to be. And I'm almost convinced that it's a conspiracy deal between the magazines and the grocery stores, so we, the readers, will feel like dumbasses and will buy anything at the grocery store to make up for our incompetent cooking skills.

I saw a recipe for some deee-licious chocolate caramel cupcakes, and thought, "Those would kick butt at my bake sale!" (Never mind the 80-degree sun beating down on me) I decided to make them, but after looking at the recipe, I decided to go the Pillsbury way with the cupcakes instead of making the batter from scratch. You'd think I would have done a more simplified icing. (Although I never, ever use icing out of the can. I always make the Wilton buttercream icing. It's really easy, too). No, not me. I was bound and determined to make the chocolate icing myself, including, yes, ladies and gents, the caramel, so I could be like Paula Dean or someone...

I made the icing with squares of chocolate (Ghiradelli, thank you very much!), butter, milk and confectioner's sugar. The time came to make the caramel. The recipe made it look oh SO easy peasy. 1 1/2 cups of sugar, with 1/4 cup of water in a small saucepan on the stove until it turns a dark amber color. Not too hard. The time came to slowly add the other 1/2 cup of water in 3 increments to the mixture. I added the first small bit, and...HISSSSSSS! The mixture started hissing at me, steamed up, and immediately hardened. Crap! It looked like something they made in Potions class in a Harry Potter movie. I went ahead and added water a second time, and it hissed again, and got even harder (insert sex joke here). I kept stirring, but the caramel crystallized and hardened to the bottom of my saucepan. Well, what the crap good is it going to do me hardened to my saucepan? So I stirred it the best I could, and tried to scrape my caramel out of my pan, but it looked more like rock salt with a little sauce at this point. And I didn't think people would like small crystallized pieces of sugar in their icing. So I made a nice batch of double chocolate cupcakes.

Next time, I'm buying the jarred stuff.

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