Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Margarita Cupcakes: The Cupcakes That Started It All

I used to be really bad at baking. I mean really bad. It was not uncommon for me to call my mother frequently while baking greeting her frantically with "BAKING EMERGENCY!!!" My father would be in the background saying "she really shouldn't bake."

The best part about my atrocious baking is that before I was really horrible at it, I was really good at it. When I was a teenager, I would bake scones, muffins, cakes, cookies - all sorts of things. Nothing too fancy, mind you, but the fact is that I could bake. Something went wrong when I moved out and I had my own kitchen and I cooked all the time. A part of my brain said "Measuring? You have to measure stuff? You have time for that? Oh HELL no!" And there went my baking skills. At least, that's the story I'm going with.

This is probably the part where I should mention that I'm vegan. I wasn't when I was a teenager. I went vegan about a year after I moved out of my parents' house. For a long time I thought I had to use egg replacers in order to accomplish the fantastic fluffy cakes and perfect cookies of non-vegan bakers. Took me a while to learn that there's a lot to be done without those weird ingredients.

Anyhow, so what got me to change my non-baking, non-measuring ways? So here I was, going to a Mexican themed party, and for no good reason whatsoever I determined that I was going to make cupcakes. It just came to me. I found a recipe online (that I later found out came from what I now call my "Cupcake Bible" - Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World) and I decided to just give it a shot. I was extremely excited because it meant going to the liquor store to get one of those adorable little bottles of tequila. That's right, these cupcakes really had alcohol in them.

I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew one of my biggest downfalls was always forgetting some important baking soda....or baking powder...something that makes them rise. I was very careful, I think I read that recipe like 6 times to make sure I had everything in there before I filled the liners - I was very paranoid. Confident that I hadn't missed anything, I put them in the oven and proceeded to the frosting; this is where the phone call to mom occurred. Well,not quite yet.

The frosting also had the tequila in it as well as lime juice. After the cupcakes were done baking (and they actually turned out perfectly! I was amazed!) and cooled, I started frosting them with what I thought was decent frosting. Remember this - the cupcakes were cooled. The frosting came out of the tip like a melty mess. So, I called my mom and she guided me through thickening up my frosting.

This is where I learned the very important lesson that all frosting recipes LIE when it comes to the quantity of powdered sugar required to make an appropriate frosting. After adding the rest of the bag of powdered sugar (don't worry, I don't get the 2 pound bags...I always forget how much is in the ones I's not two pounds o_O) I finally got the frosting that was needed to achieve that pretty looking cupcake that you see at the bakery.

And that was it! I added some lime wedges to each cupcake and stood back completely amazed that I had actually successfully baked something - and that it looked GREAT! These things actually looked like I bought them! I had to take pictures. I also called my mom. She didn't believe me. I sent her the pictures. Not only did they look pretty, but they also tasted good! When my husband and I went to the party, everybody actually liked the cupcakes!

So there you have it. The cupcakes that started it all.

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