Sunday, 9 June 2013

Will Bake Whiskey Cupcakes for More Ink!

I got my first tattoo when I was seventeen. I had been talking about it for 5 years, so my parents were not really surprised. Little did they know this would be the opening of the floodgate: getting inked is freakishly addictive! Every time I get a new tattoo, it takes me about... an hour to come up with a new awesome idea for another one. Budget restriction is a blessing in disguise sometimes...

While I do occasionally get tired of silly questions (such as "What will it look like when you get older?" - to which my typical response is: "Fucking bad-ass. Go away.") and of random people at bus stops feeling like they can touch my arm without asking, I am forever in love with the art of tattooing, and if I could draw (which I really can't: even my stick-figures suck), I would have loved to learn how to do it! I suppose I must be content with being a walking canvas.

Of course, when you are young and craving a new tattoo, you sometimes come up with ideas that will make you frown a decade later. Such was the case for the astrological symbols I got tattooed on the nape of my neck (as a Virgo with Libra rising, I like to have things clearly labeled, I guess). It was a nice little tattoo, but as I got older, I figured something a bit edgier would probably suit me better and decided to have it covered up. Given my obsession with cupcakes, I started toying with the idea of getting a bad-ass, colorful cupcake tattoo! On a whim, I walked into a tattoo shop near my apartment, and the next thing I knew, I was watching one of their artists sketch the exact wicked cupcake I had in mind!

I was so impressed with how nice and friendly the guys at the shop were, and the artist did such a cool job that I decided to express my gratitude to the Jolly Rogers' crew with a batch of whiskey cupcakes. A boozy dessert seemed an appropriate choice to thank them for my totally rockin' new tattoo!

I had been meaning to try whiskey maple buttercream frosting for a long time, as I had heard nothing but raving praises about the sinful-sounding combo. Technically, this blog entry's title is a lie, because there was no whiskey in the cupcakes per see; I sneaked it all in the frosting! But I did pipe the frosting on some lovely vanilla cupcakes.

These vanilla cupcakes are vegan, and I know I killed the vegan-ness of the ensemble with the butter in the icing, but as far as basic vanilla cupcake recipes go, this one is really one of my favorites because of how simple and straight-forward it is. If you have never baked a cupcake in your life before, this recipe is a good place to start because it will not intimidate the pants off you (I admit, some baking recipes scare me to death... I have been telling myself I will make home-made bread for ages and it still hasn't happened). If you want non-vegan vanilla cupcakes, this recipe is a bit more complicated, but utterly delicious and well worth the extra-effort.

Vegan vanilla cupcakes (from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World")
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract and
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Whisk the almond milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside for a few minutes to get good and curdled. Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and mix.

Beat together the almond milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla bean in a large bowl.

Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix until no large lumps remain.

Fill cupcake liners two-thirds of the way and bake for 20 to 22 minutes.

Transfer to a cooling rack.

I was 1/4 cup shy of the required quantity of all-purpose flour, so I topped it off with some whole wheat pasty flour, hence the more golden hue of the cakes. My little trick did not affect the taste; it just gave them a slightly "healthier" look.

The frosting is inspired by the infamous Cupcake Royale specialty of bacon cupcakes iced with whiskey-maple buttercream... These people are clearly insane in the best way one can imagine.

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup whiskey
5 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups confectioners' sugar

Using an electric mixer, beat butter, whiskey, syrup, salt, and one cup of the confectioners' sugar together until smooth.

Add the rest of the sugar bit by bit until it has reached the desired consistency (you might not use all of it).

Spread generously on cooled cupcakes. This makes enough frosting for a dozen cupcakes.

Being both a whiskey-girl and a maple syrup addict, I was sold on this icing from the moment I read the ingredients list. While it looks like completely innocent vanilla frosting, one lick of this creamy buttercream packs a lovely sweet and boozy punch. Simply sinful. A clean-tasting cake like the vanilla one is the perfect vessel for such a decadent frosting, but it would also work great on Guinness cupcakes!

Oh, and take it from me: bring your tattoo-artist cupcakes, and they will love you forever!

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