Saavy Semi-Domestication: No Shame in Premade Cake Mix
I am, as are the other ladies on this blog, a fan of bringing a hostess gift. There’s not much more I love than dinner parties (even when they consist of two people—doesn’t need to be big to be a party as long as you have either a) wine, b) whiskey or c) cake), and it’s always nice to bring something to add, whether it’s a something to drink, something for dessert, whatever. It doesn’t need to be big, just thoughtful. I am also a fan of finding awesome dessert recipes online, located by sifting through pages upon pages of glorious, well-lit, fancy-photographed foodie porn. Usually the recipes stay in the annals of my bookmarks, but occasionally I find a reason to spend a little extra time in the kitchen whipping up a batch of something sweet and crossing my fingers that it turns out alright. And the opportunities when I can use a delicious recipe to make a hostess gift? Perfect.
My friends, the Bells, were having a deck-warming party at their new house in northern New Hampshire. The Bells are fantastic party-throwers; their shindigs always entail delicious food, a great deal of alcohol, games (either outdoor of the lawn variety or indoor of the xbox dance variety, depending on the season), and a slew of great people. Since the party fell simultaneously on Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby, I thought I would bring a festive contribution. I found a recipe for churro cupcakes online, and decided that would be my mission (yes, I know that has nothing to do with the Kentucky Derby, it’s ok).
Let me additionally interject that, due to work, I am on the road a lot. I also just moved into a new apartment on May 1st, so my kitchen is subsequently not stocked with standard baking items like flour, vanilla extract, and the like. I don’t have fancy bowls and mixers, or cute tea towels. Eventually, I will have these things, but for now I live fairly sparsely, only having to improvise slightly when I want to cook things.
So, I found this recipe for churro cupcakes on one of my favorite food-nerd websites. The cupcakes sounded delicious and the recipe pleased me because it looked easy. IE, it didn’t require any sort of candy thermometer, hand-rolling of dozens of balls or similar laborious activity, and I didn’t need to possess wild kitchen items that only homeowners, vegans, and married couples have (like food processors).
Even better, I could use premade cake mix.
Even though I can feel some of you judging me through your computer screens, I do sense that others are relieved. Do I always use store-bought mix? No. There is a sense of joy in making things completely from scratch. But, there’s also a part of me that likes not having tons of excess ingredients around the house when I don’t know when I will use them next, and when I look at the ingredient list on the back of the Pillsbury box, it really is just everything I would mix on my own if I so chose to, and I am a modern, efficient woman, and this would save me time and effort.
These treats aren’t healthy anyway, and I’m on a schedule.
Below are some helpful notes to making churro cupcakes. They were a huge hit at the party; the immediate shot of sugar they provided gave the guests ample energy to participate in rounds of cornhole and hammerschlaggin. I left early so as to avoid any sugar-related meltdowns. These cupcakes are for serious sweets-lovers only.
Stirring by hand could maybe be considered a zen-like experience and it gives you the satisfaction of smashing each little clump of mix individually. It’s also slow.
Standard pastel cupcake paper things. Classy, yet expresses to your friends that you’re not trying too hard. No one likes pretentious cupcakes.
Putting batter into the cupcake liners. I also recommend buying the four pack of butter rather than the two pack, because you will use all of the butter for this recipe, and days later, when you go to make a grilled sandwich, you’ll look inside your refrigerator and be unable to find any butter, even though you have the distinct feeling you just bought some.
If you don’t read the directions carefully, you might dump all of the frosting ingredients into the mixing bowl at once, only to discover after, that you were supposed to put them into the bowl in a certain order, mixing as you go. Well, I found out you don’t have to add ingredients carefully. The icing comes out just fine when you mess up the process.
Coring cupcakes in order to fill them with caramel starts off very exciting because you get a little bit of delicious cake to eat with each cupcake you core. But after a dozen cupcakes, both you and your roommate are full and you still have a dozen more cupcakes to go.
The end product. No one asks if you used a mix when they eat your cupcakes, they’re just excited because the treats are so delicious, so you don’t even have to lie about it to your friends. Bonus!