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ultimate party foul

“Um… What is this?! Ew, seriously, what is this?!” the tall brunette asked her friend. I watched, in horror, as both inspected my cupcake like it was a bomb. I quickly ran in to the kitchen, downed a glass of champagne, and tried not to run over to the girls and rip the cupcake out of their hands. They didn’t deserve the cupcake, I thought… I obviously needed to take a chill pill. After a couple of deep breathes, I walked back out and quietly told the girls that the cupcakes were peppermint flavored and they were really glad to have this mystery solved. As if to diffuse the situation, the girl smiled politely and stated that this was one of the most moist cupcakes she had ever had. But it was too late, the damage had been done.

After this weekend, I realized that I could NEVER open my own bakery. I either need to develop thicker skin or carry a large bat around with me so I can knock some sense in to those who don’t enjoy my baked goodies. I prefer that second option, but I don’t think customers will appreciate my assault and battery technique.

Let me explain the situation a little more clearly. I offered to bake some desserts for my friend’s cocktail holiday party. While she took care of the appetizers, I decided to bake some cookies and peppermint chocolate cupcakes. Seasonally appropriate and DAMN cute, right?

WRONG! First of all, the cookies turned out to be quite disappointing. I plan on showcasing the recipes later, but Nick Malgieri’s Cappucino Thumbprints were an utter failure. The Modern Baker is not winning fans here. Martha’s butterscotch cookies were good, but could you expect less from Ms. Stewart? I thought not…

Anyways, trying to bake in between finals and work is quite tedious and I don’t know why I do this to myself. Note to self: YOU ARE NOT SUPERWOMAN. And when you try to be her, you fail. Miserably. But I already promised to bring dessert to Friday’s party and so I had to stick to my word.

I decided to use Martha’s One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes since they have been featured around the blogosphere. Many praise and live by this recipe so I figured I’d try it out. I already found my go-to chocolate layer cake, but Martha’s reputation speaks for herself so I baked these up late Thursday night. Every time I bake cupcakes, I remember how long and tedious the baking process is with these. I ended up spending close to 3 hours, from prepping, baking, and frosting. By the time I was finished, I was delirious.

In my mind, I envisioned little mint cupcakes with mint frosting, sprinkled with candy canes on top. While I personally loved the cupcakes, it’s obvious that some didn’t like them. I don’t think the cupcakes were the problem though. They came out beautiful, soft, shiny, and mouthwatering. They had a nice small dome which thankfully stayed even after cooling. Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook stated that the recipe yielded 2 dozen cupcakes but I got close to 35. I don’t know what Martha does with her cupcake batter or what size of pan she uses, but if you bake these cupcakes, you will literally get a boatload of cupcakes. Just to warn you… 

I let them cool overnight, covered in the fridge, and frosted them the next day. Honestly, I think the frosting was up for debate. I promise I tasted the swiss meringue buttercream as I made it! They tasted great to me. The frosting recipe came from the same book, behaved perfectly. It didn’t curdle, didn’t separate, and is now officially my favorite frosting recipe. Soft but not too creamy, and sweet but not overbearing, I could literally eat buckets of this frosting. Sick, but true… I added 1/4 tsp of peppermint extract to the frosting at the very end, in addition to the vanilla extract, and I swear it didn’t taste like toothpaste. There was enough extract to give a minty aftertaste, but I guess for some, it was still too much.

Another gripe about the party was the lack cupcake eating. When did it become ok for people to NOT eat the food? this crowd was heavy on the drinking, and light on the dessert eating. Considering I spent ALL NIGHT making the cupcakes, I was kind of hoping that people would actually enjoy them but a majority of the cupcakes were left untouched. I know I shouldn’t take it personally when people don’t eat my baked stuff, but I do. Call me insane or hormonal, I don’t care. When you spend money and effort on anything, and it’s not appreciated, it can be entirely frustrating. 

So while the holiday party ended up being a little disappointing on the food front, partywise, I had a GREAT time. And my friends, who normally gobble up my goods, enjoyed the cupcakes and I adored them as well. I guess that’s all that matters. Anyways, try this recipe out. Trust me, it lives up to its trusted reputation. I enjoyed them for breakfast, and they almost cured me of my morning-after hangover… Sugar always works wonders. 

Martha’s One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes
Origin: Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
Yield: 2 dozen (I got more like 35)
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 to 25 minutes 
Inactive Prep Time: 20 minutes

● 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
● 1 1/4 cups dutch-process cocoa powder
● 2 1/2 cups sugar
● 2 1/2 tsp baking soda
● 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
● 1 1/4 tsp salt
● 2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk 
● 1 1/4 cups milk
● 1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus 2 tablespoons 
● 1 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
● 1/4 tsp peppermint extract (optional)
● 1 1/4 cups warm water

Preheat oven to 350℉. Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.

Into the bowl of an electric mixer, sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; add the eggs, and yolk, the milk, oil, vanilla, and warm water. Beat on low speed until smooth and combined, about 3 minutes; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake rotating pans, halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool slightly. Invert cupcakes onto the rack; then reinvert and let them cool completely, top sides up. Frost cupcakes with swiss meringue buttercream, swirling to cover, and garnish with toppings. 

Cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Origin: Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
Yield: Makes 5 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

● 4 large egg whites
● 1 1/4 cups sugar
● 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
● 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
● 1/4 tsp peppermint extract (optional)

In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch (about 160 degrees).

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.

Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. (If frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) Beat in vanilla and peppermint, if using it. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes.

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December 14, 2008 - 8:18 pm

culinography - Well, I think they look amazing!!!

December 14, 2008 - 8:48 pm

Cory - I would have eaten more than 1 of your cupcakes with my cocktails. You’ve hit the nail on the head of why I don’t trust or really even utilize Martha recipes anymore, though. Every single occaision, there is one weird little thing that’s askew – in your case the freakishly large yield.

December 14, 2008 - 8:54 pm

Amy - Aw, I am sorry people hurt your feelings. I tend to be really disappointed when food I make gets a reaction I didn’t anticipate, so I don’t think you’re hormonal or weird in the slightest. The cupcakes look lovely, and I’m sure I would have eaten bunches.

December 14, 2008 - 10:05 pm

Ann - I love your blog and always great photos, however this incident ( sorry if my English is not good, I am not native English speaking person) I do understand what you feel, however what good is that you have done what you have planned for and your intentions are what counts. I do bake too but not as good as you do.Thank you for nice recipes, stories and always beautiful photos.

December 14, 2008 - 10:25 pm

Rachel - They are so cute! And I’m sure they were delicious!

December 14, 2008 - 11:30 pm

Celine - what the hell is wrong with people, again?

December 15, 2008 - 3:42 am

minko - Martha NEVER fails!!!
Don’t let one indifferent group of people put you off. They are a minority and are obviously people that would think box mix cakes and cupcakes are gourmet.

December 15, 2008 - 4:07 am

ovenhaven - Bah, don’t let that affect you. You shouldn’t listen to people who aren’t creating a bee line to cupcakes! There’s just no pleasing such people.

I think the cupcakes look lovely, and if only you lived somewhere near me, I would’ve jumped on the bandwagon and pleaded for some. And I’m sure your friends appreciated your contribution to the party :)

December 15, 2008 - 7:45 am

Scrumptious Foods - Aw, that is just so rude of her. You know, people replace jealousy with being cruel to others. They look very tasty and festive :). I know how you feel, I tend to take it personally if someone does not like my baked goods. Your blog is gorgeous btw.


December 15, 2008 - 1:00 pm

ingrid - Oh, man! Now THAT’S self control! I’m not certain I wouldn’t have riped it out of her hand and smashed her with it. But I’m known for having a wee bit of a temper. ;-) Her poor manners are exactly the reason why I don’t offer to bake for anyone. I bake for my family and my children’s friends. Let me say that I have found children though brutually honest are much more appreciative and less critical than adults.

Your cupcakes look wonderful. They do look very moist.

December 15, 2008 - 4:39 pm

irene - I’m always surprised when idiots don’t like my baked goods, and always surprised by how affected I am by it! You’re not alone! Of course people should appreciate the work, thought, and money you put into your baking. Your cupcakes look beautiful and scrumptious.

December 15, 2008 - 6:43 pm

Maris - I am right there with you – sometimes I bring baked goods into work and then I get nervous that no one will want to eat them!

December 15, 2008 - 6:55 pm

DD - Why not pull a Bridget Jones accidentally trip, knocking it straight into her face? Nah, don’t even waste a lick of icing on people like that. Who does that anyway? And if you opened a bakery, I would be there every day.

December 15, 2008 - 8:38 pm

Amanda - oh, I dream of doing that!!!

December 15, 2008 - 9:45 pm

My Sweet & Saucy - I am loving these! Too cute!

December 16, 2008 - 2:07 pm

Y - I know people who have been cooking professionally for years and still haven’t developed a thick skin when it comes to criticism. At least they care, right? I love chocolate and mint together. The cupcakes look great and the frosting in particular, looks awesome.

December 16, 2008 - 11:04 pm

snookydoodle - These cupcakes look cute and they look so so moist. I would be glad to order these for a party :). I m like you I m very frustrated when i don t get feedback for my cakes or they re not eaten. But some people are just very picky. Nice cupcakes :)

December 17, 2008 - 9:34 am

stephchows - Totally can relate to that feeling! I like the bat idea :D

December 17, 2008 - 11:50 am

nicole - I don’t get it … these look lovely and I would have eaten two. OK, fine, probably three, maybe even four. If only I’d been at that party to enjoy the ones those foolish, foolish ladies passed up! :)

December 18, 2008 - 11:35 am

eurydice - so it was the peppermint icing that turned off the girls? obviously they are holiday scrooges!

December 23, 2008 - 10:38 pm

violet - i have had the exact same thing happen to me – maybe people just aren’t into anything new? last year at christmas i made beach party cupcakes – i’m in the opposite hemisphere where it’s summer (banana cupcakes with half blue frosting/half cookie crumbs complete with a parasol) for the office christmas party. i think two out of twenty got eaten. i almost cried.

last week i got crushed candy canes all over my wooden floors as i was making peppermint cupcakes and only one person who would try them at work was appreciative etc – i guess you can’t please everybody but then again you did BAKE which is something when hardly anyone seems to. Good on you. it’s all down to the crowd maybe….have a good holidays.

December 29, 2008 - 8:29 am

Teri Lyn Fisher - HA! This is what I feel like at every party I bring cupcakes too! People are so dumb! Like my green tea cupcakes, people are always like why is it green… think about it smarty! Ugh. Dreams of my own bakery quickly vanish also. Hilarious.

December 29, 2008 - 8:48 am

Amanda - If it’s any consolation, I’d totally down one or two of your green tea cupcakes! Who turns away FREE baked goods?! obviously not MY kind of people haha…

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