- I don't have a sweet tooth. I attribute this to my healthy parents and their somewhat hippy-ish ways where we were much more likely to eat wheat germ and keefir than eat anything with refined sugar. Not that they were beasts. My mom made the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. They just weren't a daily thing and we only got to have them as the most special treat (sometimes made with whole wheat flour).
- Baking and dessert making is fussy. There's lots of weird ingredients (cream of tartar??) that you don't use often or frequently. There's measuring-- exact measuring, which I do not do. And there's little room for improvisation. If you don't have a specific ingredient it's not as easy to find a substitute. And things have to be done in order. Blah.
We're headed to a bbq tonight and I wanted to bring something sweet. And since I'm an annoying perfectionist and a wannnabe foodie, I decided I'd have to make it. I've been tossing an idea around in my head based on a frozen yogurt concoction I used to love in high school. In case you didn't know, Los Angeles is the land of frozen yogurt. In the 90s, we kids would go to the movies on Saturday night and then head to Humphrey's or Pagliachi's for blended yogurts. Blended, you say? Indeed. You start with a base (nonfat vanilla or chocolate frozen yogurt-- yes, so LA) and then add mix-ins. It could be candy, chocolate chips, fruit-- you name it, they mixed it. But it wasn't hand mixing-- they had these special machines that would blend it to perfection while still maintaining the frozen yogurt-ness. I had two favorite combos: 1) vanilla with oreo and cream cheese (sounds gross, but if given the opportunity, you must try it); and 2) chocolate with espresso and cinnamon.
It's the latter that I've been musing about and pondering whether it could be made into a cupcake. I was thinking a cinnamon cupcake with chocolate espresso buttercream frosting. Only I couldn't find a recipe for cinnamon cupcakes (or even cake, for that matter). And I absolutely hate making buttercream (it has ingredients like cream of tartar), and I have no patience for it. So, improvisation, here I come. I had a recipe for vanilla buttermilk cupcakes stored away but I hadn't ever made them. Perfect-- I'd do this and add cinnamon. Err-- except I live in England and couldn't find buttermilk. A little sleuthing (and thanks to my friend Nicole's blog which introduced me to Joy the Baker), I found that you can actually simulate buttermilk. In this case I chose Joy's first method: a tbsp of lemon and a cup of milk (ironically method #3 used cream of tartar. I may have to buy this stuff). It worked! So, I made the batter and added 2 tbsp of cinnamon. Di-vine (if I do say so myself). But if I can ever find buttermilk, I may try the real-deal. I think it would make it a tad more sour / savory which would contrast nicely against the sweet...
Now for the espresso buttercream. *Sigh* after the buttermilk experiment and the whole making cupcakes from scratch, I just couldn't be bothered. A quick dig through my pantry unearthed good old Betty Crocker chocolate frosting. So I scooped it into a bowl and proceeded to add espresso. I started measuring, but then gave up and started dumping (and tasting). Chocolate overwhelms every flavor (although, take my comments with a grain of salt because I actually don't like chocolate), so I just kept adding until I could taste the espresso more than I could taste the chocolate.
The result? Yummmm. It brought me right back to being 16 and at Pagliachi's on a date with my high school sweetie. I wanted to garnish it with coffee beans, but since I don't drink coffee, they were not on hand. Thanks to my sister-in-law, I did have espresso, so in addition to using that to add to the frosting, I also dusted the top with espresso powder.
Cinnamon Buttermilk Cupcakes with Chocolate Espresso Frosting
Cupcakes (makes about 12 cupcakes-- barely)
- 1 c all purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 c buttermilk
- 4 tsbp butter
- 2 lg eggs
- 3/4 c plus 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Pre-heat oven to 350
- Soft flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt
- Melt btter and combine with buttermilk
- In bowl of a stand mixer* fitted with paddle attachment, cream sugar and eggs until a thick batter forms, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Mix in flour mixture until just combined and then do same with butter and milk mixture.
- Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 fill and bake 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 min then transfer to wire rack. Cool completely before icing.
- 1/2 container of chocolate frosting (if you're following recipe above for 12 cupcakes)--okay; if you're more talented than me, you can also make buttercream. A great recipe is here.
- 4 tbsp of espresso (although, taste it as you're adding / mixing-- you may want more / less)