A Tale of Two fRAWstings

Late on Friday night, for no apparent reason, I got that darn cupcake baking bug again.
No, not THIS cupcake bug... There's something that's just so fun about making those little perfect bites of cake covered with frosting! At about 11 p.m. on Friday, I made chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate chips. What I didn't do was account for the changes in the recipe that I'd made , and I removed the cupcakes from the oven too soon and the cupcakes fell... So I tried again with a different recipe from JoyOfBaking.com Chocolate Cupcakes: Ingredients * 1/2 cup (50 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder * 1 cup (240 ml) boiling hot water * 1 1/3 cups (175 grams) all purpose flour * 2 teaspoons baking powder * 1/2 teaspoon salt * 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature * 1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar * 2 large eggs * 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract Directions Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly butter, or line 16 muffin cups with paper liners. In a small bowl stir until smooth the boiling hot water and the cocoa powder. Let cool to room temperature. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Then in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat only until incorporated. Then add the cooled cocoa mixture and stir until smooth. Fill each muffin cup two-thirds full with batter and bake for about 16-20 minutes or until risen, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with icing. These worked. They smelled great and tasted even better... So I packaged them up so I could ice them on Saturday. During the day yesterday, I researched frosting recipes. I was in the mood to try something a little more challenging than a cream cheese icing or buttercream... so I opted for a 7-minute boiled icing with some lovely hot pink coloring. Initially, the cupcakes looked adorable:
boiled icing cupcake
I went to bed and when I woke up, I found that most of the frosting had spread and glopped over the side of the cupcakes and looked um... not so cute. Luckily, the amount of sugar in the boiled icing made it possible to just peel it off the cupcakes and foils and try again! I ended up with an Italian buttercream from AllRecipes.com Italian Meringue Buttercream Adapted from this recipe Ingredients * 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons white sugar * 1/3 cup corn syrup * 1/3 cup water * 3 egg whites * 2/3 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed * 1 cup shortening * 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Directions 1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring just enough to dissolve the sugar. Heat to between 223 and 234 degrees F (106 to 112 degrees C), or until a small amount of syrup dripped from a spoon forms a soft thread. It should take 1 or 2 minutes. 2. When the sugar mixture has reached the thread stage, remove it from the heat and set aside. Whip the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer. When the whites can hold a stiff peak, pour in the sugar syrup in a thin stream while continuing to whip at medium speed. Be careful not to pour too quickly, or it will all end up at the bottom of the bowl. When the syrup is incorporated, continue to mix for 10 more minutes to allow it to cool. The egg whites will be fluffy and glossy. 3. Add pieces of cold butter one at a time to the egg whites and continue to whip at medium or low speed. Then do the same with the shortening. The buttercream will break down and look curdled, but keep mixing and it will come back together in about 10 minutes. When it comes back around, mix in the vanilla. Store at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. The end result?
italian buttercream cupcake
Yeah, pretty proud of this one... I'm already dreaming up flavor combos to use with that icing because, as complex as it looks, it was SO easy!
This morning, I awoke early, super excited for a blogger meet up today... not just any blogger meet up, I was meeting this lovely lady:
Gena choosing raw
Recognize her? That's none other than Gena from Choosing Raw! She mentioned on her blog a while back that she would be visiting Chicago, and I was so excited to meet her, since I've been reading her blog since close to the beginning of it. She's famous for her banana soft serve, among other things... and she's just as warm and wonderful in person as she seems on her blog! There were a number of local bloggers and readers at the meet up as well, including Jenn, Valerie, Maya, the blogger behind Robyn, her friend, reader Elese, and one other... it was great to meet new bloggers! We met up in one of my favorite Chicago neighborhoods, kindly nicknamed "Boys Town" due to it being one of the first gay-friendly neighborhoods in Chicago. They're quite proud of this status, as indicated by these sculptures that line the streets:
One of the first truly vegetarian and vegan restaurants also resides in this neighborhood
chicago diner
neon sign
The menu at The Chicago Diner is quite impressive, featuring tons of specialties including a vegan reuben, vegan shawarma (a word that had much discussion during lunch!), vegan monte cristo sandwiches, as well as more standard breakfast options with eggs and cheese. I opted for the vegan shawarma, as it was just too intriguing to not order! It was made from seitan, and topped with hummus, veggies, and had a spicy harissa sauce on the side. Oh, and sweet potato fries 🙂
vegan shwarma
With the exception of a hassle with the check, it was great food with even better company! This whole idea of a blogger retreat is looking better and better the more bloggers I meet... It was a lovely day, and a friendly stranger took our group picture:
Chicago Diner meetup
From left: blogger whose name I can't remember, Jenn, Gena, Valerie, me, Elese, Maya Apparently, I missed the "cute boots" memo! It was a great day, really and truly! I left the blogger meet up with a few of the girls, drove them home, and then headed out to see my sister for a while. She's setting off on a road trip from San Diego on Wednesday, so those of you between San Diego and Chicago, be thinking of places she must go to or see! I'll have more specifics soon... but thanks in advance! Have a great Monday!   P.S. Did you get the title of this post? I know, it's super punny...
This entry was posted in Baking, dinner out, friends, vegetables, vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to A Tale of Two fRAWstings

  1. That pink and white cupcake is TOO adorable! Lovely!

    And, what a fun blogger meet-up! I can’t believe that schwarma (sp?) is seitan– it looks so much like meat! What a fun end to the weekend!
    .-= Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg´s last blog ..No Queso-Dilla =-.

  2. Love that hot pink frosting! That is my kinda cupcake. 🙂
    .-= Jessica @ How Sweet It Is´s last blog ..Crab Avocado Quesadillas. =-.

  3. sophia!!! says:

    Gosh! Your cupcakes look SO professional. Like the ones that people will pay $4 for, and line up for hours!

    Ah, chicago looks…COLD! Haha, I can’t believe you guys are still wearing all that junk…I hope the weather warms up soon. At least the sun is shining! Cool blogger meet-up!

  4. DianaHayes says:

    Chicagoans are used to the cold. Love the cupcakes, even the boiled icing, it’s so pretty.
    .-= DianaHayes´s last blog ..Spinach Recipes =-.

  5. LOVE the frosting and sprinkles on the cupcakes! How sweet and dainty. 🙂

    Your blogger meet-up looks like so much fun. Sadly, I’ve never met any other bloggers. 🙁 I would love to, though!! I hope the opportunity presents itself someday. 😀

    .-= Jenn (www.j3nn.net)´s last blog ..Grillz =-.

  6. Mama Pea says:

    Your cupcakes (both versions) are cute, and I’m so jealous of your meetup. The title: adorable!
    .-= Mama Pea´s last blog ..The Best Laid Plans =-.

  7. Love it, love it all 🙂

    Wow, I can definitely see (and now TASTE) the difference in those two frostings. Good call, Miss I-Need-To-Open-My-Own-Cupcake-Shop-ASAP!

    So glad I got to see you today. Thanks again for the goodies – and for the bite of your shawarma! Ooh…I feel like I just said a dirty word 😉
    .-= Jenn (eating bender)´s last blog ..Bride-ier Issues {An Unusual Bender Post} =-.

  8. Lin says:

    hehe guess i’m the unnamed blogger. i’m so glad that i got to meet you yesterday! i didn’t know that you were such a talented baker! i just thought you were an amazing bill figure-outer. i love to bake too but my endeavers are definately not as aesthetically pleasing as yours are.
    .-= Lin´s last blog ..Terrifying Driving Day + Chicago Blogger Meetup =-.

  9. laura says:

    wow the trouble with frosting hunh? But all’s well that ends well right?

    Love the meet up, lucky girl!
    .-= laura´s last blog ..SOS Food Bloggers Bake Sale Report and Thank You =-.

  10. Lauren says:

    I am sad that I didn’t know you 2 years ago because I would have hired you to make a Cupcake Cake for my wedding!! These are AMAZING! 🙂

    What a great meet-up! Just yesterday, I was telling my hubby that I wanted to visit Chicago sometime. Now, I have even more of a reason….I would LOVE to meet up with you!!!!! Okay, I’ll work on him to make this happen soon! 🙂

    Have a great day hun!
    .-= Lauren´s last blog ..Take Me Out to The Ball Game =-.

  11. Melissa S. says:

    wow, those cupcakes look amazing!!!! I need to come to Chicago so you can teach me!

    and what a fun meetup! I get to see Gena at the end of this weekend in Ft. Lauderdale So excited!

  12. axor says:

    great cupcakes!!

    are you a “seitan” worshiper now?

  13. Gena says:

    Love of my life!

    It was amazing to meet you. Just way too short. We are going to make it happen again, and soon. Thank you for your sweet hospitality and for wowing me with your baking skills!!!


  14. Rose says:

    Ahh! What an awesome group of ladies. I would have loved to be at this meetup!

  15. Loving the pink frosting !!
    .-= Mary @ What’s Cookin’ with Mary´s last blog ..Egg White Frittata with Broccoli, Zucchini and Cremini Mushrooms =-.

  16. Katie says:

    Your cupcakes are always so beautiful! Do you use an icing gun? Whatever you do, keep it up (and please Fed-Ex one my way!).

    Fabulous meet-up with fabulous ladies! Hopefully we too can meet up one day…

  17. elise says:

    i need to get my behind to chi-town…ive never been but i think i need some mara, jenn, & valerie time…oh and some vegan diner food wouldnt hurt either 🙂
    .-= elise´s last blog ..Je t’aime Eric Ripert =-.

  18. you make such beautiful cupcakes. I want to reach through my computer screen and try both the boiled frosting and the italian buttercream.

    I’m jealous of your blogger meetup. I need to get back to Chicago.
    .-= Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat)´s last blog ..Pushing through mental blocks =-.

  19. that buttercream frosting look AMAZING!

    very jealous of your blogger meet up.

    come to cleveland already. you can bring jenn, too 😉

  20. Marianne says:

    I would have gone for the shawarma too, one because they are awesome, and two, because I’ve never had seitan and have always wanted to try it. It intrigues me so! Why do none of the veg restaurants I’ve been to serve it?

    Who doesn’t like blogger meet ups? I must get one set up here in Vancouver one day!
    .-= Marianne´s last blog ..Media Muffin Contest Recap =-.

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