A modern take on old-fashioned cupcakes
This past weekend I baked for and attended this fantastic charity event sponsored by Party4aCause. A close friend’s fiance is a member and asked me to donate some baked goods for one of their events, and this seemed like a good contender for my one good deed for the year =P The idea was for this Prohibition era/Bank robber’s ball… complete with a sexy speakeasy, classy gin cocktails, a live band, and of course, tough guys and dames.
I thought about what to make for the event and researched some 1920s desserts. Upon discovering that Hostess cupcakes were invented in 1919, I figured that they’d be time period appropriate. P4aC gave me a great write up to promote me as a sponsor, which was awesome! Vin suggested that I make boozy cupcakes instead, and I realized that would have been easier on me and just as fitting, but I had already promised mini Hostesses, so mini Hostesses I would deliver. I was told that about 100 were going to attend the event; the day before the party, I get an email saying 160 guests were expected. Yikes? All of a sudden I felt like I was on “Top Chef” and alien-faced Padma was saying in her airy drawl, “Your challenge is to make a modern version of a retro dessert… and it’ll be for one… hundred… guests,” and then a few hours later Tom and his glistening head would interrupt with “Hey guys, there’s just one more thing… you have to make almost double the amount. Have fun!” You know that’s EXACTLY how it would go down, too. haha
I wanted them to be less sugary (and less processed!) than actual Hostess cakes so I used less egg yolk and more egg white, less sugar and butter (I know, sounds like an atrocity and it was gut-wrenching, but I did it and it worked), and more dark chocolate. It was slightly more… heart healthy, if you will. haha The baked mini cakes came out EXTREMELY fluffy and light and baked in only 6 minutes. I kept churning them out and I lost count of how many minis I baked after 200+. There was STILL extra batter so I made a couple dozen regular sized cupcakes, too. I only needed like… a gross* to bring to the event, but I knew I had to bring some for my friend A’s birthday party after the P4aC event, my mother-in-law’s birthday party with the T clan the next day, it would be a nice Monday treat for my new coworkers, and I wanted to bring some minis in to the ritzy 5th Ave salon that keeps calling me back for free amazing cuts and color (when ppl do nice things for you and hook you up, you best say “thank you!”).
I left the pile of little chocolate cakes on the dining table and attended to making the homemade marshmallow fluff filling. For a full 15 minutes I had an internal debate whether or not I should go to the supermarket to just save time and buy processed Fluff, but I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t make it myself. Plus, I got to use my new candy thermometer for this new dessert component, too. I heated light corn syrup with sugar and whipped egg whites. I had a mad scientist moment when the melted sugar was blended with the egg whites and all of a sudden… it was alive! And it looked like Fluff. It was SUPER sticky, but really delicious. I was pretty pleased with myself for spending time to do it and not taking the easy way and copping out. I added a tiny bit of butter to the airy mixture and mechanically injected the filling into the minis. I still have a lot of leftover unfilled cupcakes, so I might just freeze those for a rainy day.
Part 3 was the ganache. Actual Hostess cupcakes have this texture for the “glaze” I’m not particularly fond of. After browsing several adaptations of Hostess cupcakes, I just decided to mix dark chocolate chips and cream and squirted a dollop on each cupcake. At this point, I was getting tired so I didn’t bother spreading the ganache out. Whatever. It looked fine and tasted even better.
The last step was the white icing. I was pretty exhausted from the previous 3 steps and didn’t get around to this part until the morning of the event. And it’s not even legit icing b/c no eggs or butter were involved (but it IS less fattening). I hand-mixed some powdered sugar and milk and made abstract loops on 17 dozen or so cupcakes, let them set, and then packaged them up in clam shell containers. Listen, I don’t want to hear it about how the signature squiggles aren’t on these. If I were bringing 2 or 3 dozen cupcakes, I’d consider taking the time to spend decorating these, but since 1) I don’t have a clone or robot army to squeeze out perfect little loops for over 200 cupcakes, and 2) this is a free donation/gift, you shut your facehole about it or I’ll shut it for you <3
I stacked the 12 containers of minis in one bag (I have these “green” tote bag things with flat bottoms that are the perfect size for carrying around cupcakes and minis… I just wish they literally weren’t green!) and Vin and I got our outfits ready for the event. For those that don’t know us too well, we win @ costume parties. I mean, my husband shaved his beard off just to get a great “Boardwalk Empire” mustache for this, and I haven’t seen him sans beard in YEARS… THAT’S how into these things we are. Vin’s get up consisted of a pinstripe jacket, a vest, pocket watch, and a fedora. As for me, I didn’t want to wear the whole get up into the city since I had to carry all these delicate treats and me + heels + fancy outfit + cupcakes = faceplant/twisted ankle/sugar disaster. I brought this sequined flapper dress I bought on super sale from a boutique that I had been DYING to wear and this was the perfect occasion. I also had long black gloves, silver retro shoes, a long strand of pearls, and a peacock feather-flower hair clip. The finishing touch was this short curly wig I stuffed my hair into. Gangster costume in a bag? Ppssshhh! Sorry, that doesn’t exist in this house =) We dropped off the cupcakes @ the venue then Vin and I met up with our friend and his moll for dinner (they had awesome bank robber outfits, complete with a sack full of fake $… brilliant!) and I changed into my costume to run back to the lounge to set up.
It was a pretty nice event. Some of my friends came to show support and it was great meeting other volunteers who were into the cause, too. Organizing this is no small feat, so kudos to you guys for all the hard work and I’m sure Broome St Academy will be forever grateful. Thanks for letting me be a part of this, and I hope your guests were happy with the treats! By 930, the cupcakes were gone and I changed back into my street clothes to go to A’s party, toting my costume and a dozen minis for her birthday.
The next day, I bought a couple dozen minis and some regular cupcakes to Mom T’s birthday party with the fam, and Vin’s parents said they tasted just like actual Hostess cupcakes. On Monday, I brought some into work to share with my coworkers, and some ppl even took two. I’ll just say what everyone is thinking: my cupcakes are simply the bee’s knees. =)
*in bulk speak that’s 144 minis!