Friday, September 9, 2011

Frugal Fridays - Saving Time

As I may have mentioned, things have been crazy in Measuring Spoons Land as of late. O2 (for those of you just tuning in, that’s ‘Offspring 2’) and I sat down with the calendar to work out The Schedule for September.


Things have gotten so busy that I’m actually adding the most mundane things to my ‘to do’ lists, lest I forget things like ‘pay the orthodontist’, ‘pick up Sunday paper’, or ‘breathe’.

Luckily I have some amazing friends that have been stepping in to help.

Somewhere along the way, I had to let go of a project I was really looking forward to. With the close of Steel Magnolias coming up, I had been asked if I’d make the Bleedin’ Armadillo Cake that’s mentioned (basically, the groom’s cake for a wedding made of red velvet cake and covered in gray frosting). I was so looking forward to having fun with it, but as the day drew nearer, I realized there was just no way to make it happen.

But I didn’t want to leave them without SOMETHING, so I decided on a quicker version and made these cupcakes (same red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, but with armadillo tails). O2 and I actually had a great time with our little fondant assembly line - me rolling out tails and ‘backsides’, and her adding texture, so I could add a little more color before final assembly. It turned what would have been an 8 or 9 hour project into something completely manageable. And I hear they were well received by the cast.

And mind you, these were not all about looks. The cupcakes, while dense, were very moist, and the frosting was rich but not overly sweet.

Whether the armadillo, uh, backsides were eaten or not, I didn’t ask…

Red Velvet Cupcakes
adapted from Magnolia Bakery recipe

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 ¼ cups sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup cocoa
2 tsp red gel food coloring dissolved in ¼ cup hot water
1 ½ tsp vanilla
3 cups sifted flour
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
1 ½ tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350º. Place 24 cupcake wrappers in cupcake tins.

In bowl of stand mixer, cream butter on medium-high until lightened in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Slowly incorporate sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, scrape down sides of bowl, and beat an additional 3 minutes.

Mix cocoa, dissolved food coloring and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth. Add to butter mixture.

Stir salt into buttermilk. With mixer running at low speed, add buttermilk to butter mixture 1/3 at a time, alternating with the flour.

Stir vinegar and baking soda together. Immediately add to batter. Mix thoroughly and then fill cupcake wrappers about 2/3 of the way full.

Bake for 16 - 18 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from pan and place on a rack to cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick (8 Tbs) unsalted butter, softened
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs milk
4 cups (approximately) sifted confectioner’s sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter together at a high speed using a stand or hand-held mixer. Add salt, vanilla and milk and incorporate into the mixture. Add sugar, about ½ a cup at time, mixing well after each addition to prevent lumps, until of the desired consistency. Frost cupcakes as desired.

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