Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! Whether you’re spending it with a significant other or with a movie and some chocolate, make sure you treat yourself well today.
My Valentine’s Day gift to myself is takeout, a bad 1970 adaptation of Dracula, and good friends. Ladies and gentlemen, life at UChicago.
As far as V-Day treats go, though, I’m a big fan of red velvet done right. In my quest for the perfectly moist, tender and crumbly red velvet cake, I made these cupcakes from Joy the Baker.
Let me just say: right choice. This is by far the best red velvet recipe I’ve tried to date.
Moreover, the frosting? Oh my god, to die for. Why have I never thought of putting cinnamon in cream cheese frosting?
And the ratio of powdered sugar to cream cheese is just right for a frosting that sets firm but is still nice and tangy from the cream cheese. It tastes like a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch–only better.
The one note I have is about the red food coloring. 2 Tablespoons? That’s a lot. I didn’t even have that much food coloring in my house when I made these. I ended up using 2-3 teaspoons of food coloring + 1 T hot water, and then added another teaspoon or two of hot water to the chocolatey paste when it wasn’t quite paste-y enough. As you can see, the cupcakes were still a vivid shade of red, so nothing lost here!
Make these for your valentine, for your friends, for yourself, for your cat–whomever you wanna share some love with today.
In other news, tenderloveandcupcakes.com is officially my own, GoDaddy-hosted website! This is very exciting news. It also means I’ll be playing with the layout a lot for a while, so bear with me, please. And feel free to leave comments on how it looks/what works/what doesn’t! I’ll try to stay on top of everything, but there will be bugs, and for that I am sorry.
Poke around, leave me a comment, and have a happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂 <3
Let me preface this by saying that I have the coolest roommates ever.
Phillips, being the perfect person she is, threw a Doctor Who 50th Anniversary viewing shindig, in which all guests dressed up and came over for Doctor Who-themed snacks like Adipose marshmallows…
…and, of course, to actually watch the new episode and collectively freak out.
Kaitlyn, being the perfect person she is, used her artistic powers for good and turned our door into a TARDIS.
What? It’s bigger on the inside, you say?
Why, yes, it is.
Sam, being the perfect person she is, sat through several episodes and a crash-course powerpoint presentation (courtesy of Phillips) so that she wouldn’t be lost during the party, and even dressed up as Sally Sparrow.
Of course, I’m terribly nitpicky, so it kills me to compare my cake to the tutorial. I’m already looking for an excuse to make another one and perfect the design. Probably a bad idea, considering how long this one took me, but I’m not going to think about that.
This cake was…quite an ordeal. It began on Friday night with the cake itself, the frosting, and the modeling chocolate. The frosting started out as a Swiss meringue buttercream, but I evidently haven’t mastered that yet, because it quickly turned into a regular buttercream. Thankfully, nobody I know is opposed to regular ol’ buttercream. 😉
The cake–well–it was definitely the easiest part of the whole process. I used my go-to chocolate cake recipe from foodess. It’s darker than most chocolate cakes without being overwhelmingly rich, it’s moist, and it has a soft crumble that’s hard to stop eating.
The modeling chocolate, made using this video’s recipe(also referenced by the tutorial), turned out way greasier than the instructions suggested it would. I ended up draining the excess water/grease as I mixed the corn syrup and melted chocolate. I was a little nervous that it would turn the chocolate into a crumbly mess (as threatened by the video), but after sitting wrapped up overnight, it was just as perfectly malleable as I’d hoped. Phew.
Which prompts me to say: if you’re using Wilton candy melts, you’re going to end up with alarming amounts of liquid as you’re mixing. Don’t panic. Drain the excess, wrap the chocolate in plastic wrap, and go to sleep. It’ll be fine. Really.
There are few situations I could’ve imagined in which I’d be molding a cake using a paring knife. This is what happens when there’s no way you can get your hands on an exacto knife.
Several layers of modeling chocolate later, I had a vaguely shaped blue box. Hooray!
Windows, decals, and a lot of coaxing later, I had turned my blue box into a TARDIS-shaped blue box. Double hooray! 🙂
In the interest of keeping this cake as cheap as possible–and actually finishing it in time for the party, which was a struggle as it was–I passed on the white fondant and the intricate painting of windows, using leftover buttercream and a bit of black gel food coloring to finish the decorations.
I also used a tiny balled up piece of aluminum foil instead of an actual floral light.
I’m a college student; what am I supposed to do with an entire pack of floral lights?
Topped that with leftover modeling chocolate painted black, and I had a “light” for my TARDIS.
At some point during this process, I switched from apron-clad apartment baker to a femme eleventh Doctor putting the finishing touches on her precious ship.
The suspenders and blazer showed up later.
All in all, definitely a successful project. It was painful finally cutting into the cake–but also beyond worth it when everyone actually got to enjoy it.
The support straws got sliced in the process and looked rather silly.
Also dang, look at those slabs of modeling chocolate. I didn’t even realize how much frosting and chocolate had been layered on there until I cut the thing open.
Overall: 10/10, would definitely try something this out there again. Too much fun!
For progress photos & many more detail shots, head over to my flickr. Most of these are courtesy of Kaitlyn, who is responsible for the majority of the party documentation.
Thank you, Kaitlyn!
Next time, we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming that includes far less time-consuming recipes.
To my UChicago friends: happy 10th week! And to all, happy December! Let the season of peppermint and huge sweaters begin 🙂 x
As the weeks fly by and my blog continues to be neglected, I realize more and more that I am probably doing too many things for my own good. For those of you still reading: thanks for sticking around. I’ll figure this out eventually.
On to pie!
With the holidays coming up quickly, my favorite food sites have been flooded with fall spices, apple crumble, and pecan and pumpkin pies. But while my stomach says hot damn yes, my jeans say NO, and I find myself looking for healthy alternatives to eating a different kind of pie every week.
Enter the vegan key lime pie, courtesy of Cassey Ho at Blogilates. While it looks like pie and feels like pie, it doesn’t quite taste like pie–but it is still absolutely delicious, and good for satisfying a sweet tooth.
The wonderful part: this deceptive “pie” is made from wholesome ingredients that will actually make it good for your health to be eating a slice. What?! I know. There’s also no actual baking involved–just a freezer.
The less wonderful part: the prep requires a food processor. If you’re like me, that means digging around on the top shelves of cabinets and sorting through all the kitchen appliances your mom owns but doesn’t actually use. Which then leads to extra cleanup. This dish also doesn’t keep for very long, and some people will be incredibly disappointed at the lack of actual pie. But we don’t need to worry about those people.
The ingredient list is short and simple: avocados, dates, walnuts, limes, and sugar. You can add tapioca flour, but that’s not something I have handy, so I ground two tablespoons of rolled oats instead. (Feel free to omit the flour altogether, though.)
After soaking the dates in water for an hour, blend them with the walnuts to make the pie crust.
Slice up your avocados and throw them into a food processor with the sugar and (optional) oats/tapioca, blend it all, and pour it over your crust.
Garnish with coconut flakes, lime slices, and whole walnuts–and you’re done! Just pop it into the freezer until it’s firm.
My family and I worked our way through this pretty quickly. I felt no guilt whatsoever. 😉
Avocados aren’t in season anymore, but let me know if you find some good ones and try this recipe out!
And to anyone who is less than thrilled about a healthy vegan dessert: fear not. Butter, sugar, and chocolate will return soon.