With all the attention to cupcakes of late, there is little on cupcake forensics. I will dissect a birthday cupcake for you.
Sometimes, certain recipes, foods, or food combinations, for that matter, get in one’s mind and do not go away. On the very informative instructional site, A Feast for the Eyes, I recently had come across Debby’s recipe for Chocolate Bliss Cake. I really liked the idea of an easy five-minute version of the classic seven-minute meringue icing (thank you, King Arthur Flour, for this simpler version!). I thought it would go well with Debby’s moist chocolate cake – which included my favourite addition of coffee – and a chocolate buttercream filling. While I am a big fan of chocolate cake with the icing of the same flavour, the contrast of a light, marshmallowy meringue icing is a treat for both the senses of sight and taste.
However, I also had been thinking about chocolate malt since I read Geni’s recipe for Chocolate Malt Cake on the engaging blog, Sweet and Crumby. Chocolate and malt – as in Whoppers, Maltesers (NB: this site prevents visitors under 12-year-old from exploring these chocolate-malt treats further…), chocolate malted milk balls, or a thick chocolate malted ice cream shake – are an irresistible combination. Chocolate complements many other ingredients to star in desserts, e.g., coffee, mint, peanut butter, and raspberry, to name a few of my favourites.
If you are a devotee of chocolate malted milk balls, the chocolate-malted buttercream is reminiscent of the crunchy filling, with a different texture, of course. I found it to be quite addictive, which I must admit, at this point, in this cupcake anatomy lesson.
In the midst of these cravings, my friend Kip happened to mention that it was Jim’s birthday (which I should have remembered as he is precisely 12.5 years older than I am!). A birthday cake on this island can be a bit of a challenge for those who do not like to bake, as there is one bakery – closed for holidays, at the time – and one baker who makes sumptuous cakes with impressive decorations, which are priced accordingly for major special occasions. And Kip will be the first to confess to not being a baker, though she is a marvelous cook. So I told Kip that I would bake something to celebrate. I wanted it to be visually impressive, as Jim is one of the top professional photographers in Canada!
Initially, I had planned to bake a cake, but the image of Hostess cupcakes I had seen in the US recently kept making me think of filled cupcakes, an undertaking I had never attempted before. As I have been in a more reflective state with my series on my grandmother, Jessie, I was thinking recently of a cupcake from a neighbourhood bakery of my childhood, which was a chocolate cupcake, filled with a white marshmallowy-buttercream centre, and iced with a dark chocolate frosting. Thus, the Chocolate-Malt-Meringue Bliss Cupcake came into existence.
For the technique and the recipe….