Let's talk about dating, shall we? I'm rather regretting boring you with an entire post about text messaging -- especially since I'm sure I have more interesting things to say -- and my dating life is, at the very least, interesting. The highs and lows of it are certainly fodder for conversation among my friends. I can even connect what I'm about to say about dating to this cupcake recipe, so this should work out nicely. (Perhaps we can disregard the narrative in the last post as a bit of poor blogging judgment on my part? Don't disregard the recipe though -- it is a keeper.)
One of the gifts the Good Lord Above has blessed me with is the gift of knowing what I like and what I need (and the difference between the two). When it comes to dating, this is terrifically useful, but also terrifically frustrating, as the qualities I'm looking for seem mighty rare these days. At any rate, one of the essential elements is that the guy must be comfortable in his own shoes. Quiet confidence is perfectly OK -- and often preferable -- but a shrinking violet would look grossly out of place next to me. My particular sense of confidence, sometimes quiet and sometimes outgoing, can be intimidating to some, so when a guy manages to get past that I am always impressed. This is how Orlando Bloom entered my life.
Not really Orlando Bloom, but a cowboy boot- and hat-wearing guy that would look an awful lot like Orlando Bloom if Orlando Bloom donned this fabulously sexy Western wear. Anyway, two weeks ago, clad in my most recently acquired vintage Western shirt (an obsession I will expound on in later posts), I paid a visit to my favorite local live music establishment to hear one of my favorite local Country bands. I arrived early, thanks to a glitch in dinner plans for the evening, and while passing the pre-show time chatting with friends, I couldn't help but notice the dark eyes of Orlando Bloom staring at me from beneath his straw cowboy hat. It takes more than a celebrity resemblance and a meeting of eyes across the room to pique my interest, so I didn't give this brief interaction much thought. That is, until I noticed him still watching as my sky and navy blue shirt, with embroidered flowers and shotgun cuffs, twirled around the floor while the band roared through their first set. Midway through the evening, Orlando Bloom asked me to dance. He can dance. Always good, but still not enough to grab my attention. We parted ways, but in between conversations with his friends -- who were all gathered together for a rowdy cowboy birthday celebration -- Orlando Bloom continued to watch. And at the end of the evening, after two more dances and with nary a hint of reservation, hesitation, insecurity, or doubt, Orlando Bloom asked me out.
I said yes.
I made these cupcakes for my friend, K. When I first met K last fall, we had a lively discussion about cookies, cupcakes, and a whole host of other things, and by the end it was decided that I would turn K's favorite cookie, Snickerdoodle, into a cupcake. It took me a while; as you now know, I didn't turn on my oven for many months while I was busy learning to dance. I'm getting better at striking a balance though, and a few weeks ago I had the time and the inclination to focus in on keeping last fall's Snickerdoodle cupcake promise.
These cupcakes are, umm, oh so good. Cinnamon, sugar, butter, and vanilla -- really, where can you go wrong? The cupcake recipes comes from Martha Stewart's new cupcake book, which was a Christmas gift to me that Dad picked out himself. (Love, love, love those gifts.) Martha recommends pairing the cupcake with a seven-minute frosting, but I opted for my go-to vanilla buttercream instead. Good choice, I think. The pièce de résistance of the cupcake, though, is the teeny tiny Snickerdoodle cookie perched on top -- a subtlety sparkling adornement to the folds of creamy frosting. (So proud of the tiny cookies...and all the awesome adjectives in the preceding sentence.) The recipe for the cookies can be found here, but you'll need to whittle the size of each ball of dough down from a scoop to a pinch to get a cookie small enough to place on a cupcake. Enjoy! (K did.)
Oh, and since I promised to tie the dating story in with the cupcake recipe: It was K's fantastic band that was playing the night I met Orlando Bloom.
* I anticipate getting a few questions about the floral bakery box holding K's cupcakes, above. I made that myself using a rather large stamp and black matte ink. Special friends deserve specially packaged gifts, I think. (Not shown: lime green grosgrain and black satin ribbons that tied it all together after the lid was closed.) For those interested in decorating their own bakery boxes, this task will likely require an ink that is formulated to dry on glossy surfaces. I used Tsukineko's Archival Brilliance pigment ink pad in Graphite Black.
** This frosting recipe will make enough to nicely cover all of the cupcakes. However, if you have a preference for big swirls of frosting (as I clearly do), you should plan to double it.
Yields 24-28 cupcakes
A recipe from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk
A recipe by Cheryl at The Cupcake Bakeshop
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
6-8 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup milk
To Make the Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, and beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until combined.
Fill your cupcake containers of choice three-quarters full. Bake, rotating halfway through, until a cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
To Make the Frosting:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium-high speed until creamy. Add half of the sifted sugar, the vanilla, and the milk. Beat until combined. Gradually add the remaining sugar until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.
Cupcakes may be stored in an airtight container for at least two days. (I am exceptionally good at making cupcakes rapidly disappear, so I really wouldn't know beyond that.)