Strawberries and Champagne Cupcakes

I have two main career goals, 1. to be a comedic writer and performer OR 2. to be like a mix of Rachel Ray and Chelsea Handler… like a drunk Martha Stewart. In honor of the second lofty dream, every Thursday is now Thirsty Thursday here. There are no limitations to what this could mean, other than than it includes alcohol.

So, today I bring you Strawberries and Champagne Cupcakes. I adapted some recipes from here and here. I made these for a friend’s 21st birthday party… they were a hit, but it’s not a big deal or anything, whatever.

Strawberries and Champagne Cupcakes
Cake: (Use this recipe or screw it and just use a strawberry cake mix)
1/2 cup fresh strawberries , diced
1/2 cup good Champagne (sweet rose Champagne suggested)
2 1/2 cups flour , sifted
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder , sifted
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. (4 ounces) unsalted butter
4 Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup zero-calorie sweetener (e.g., Splenda)
2 large eggs , at room temperature
2 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract plus seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1 1/4 cups skim milk , at room temperature
Red or pink food coloring
Strawberry extract (to taste)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line cupcake pan with 12 baking cups.

Dice up 1/2 cup of fresh strawberries and soak in 1/2 cup of Champagne. Set aside.

Strawberries Soaking in Champagne

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Place the unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Add the sugar; beat on medium speed until well incorporated.

Mix in applesauce slowly.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition.

Combine the vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds and milk in a large liquid measuring cup.

Reduce the speed to low. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then gradually add one-third of the milk mixture, beating until well incorporated. Add another one-third of the flour mixture, followed by one-third of the milk mixture. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the food coloring and as much strawberry extract as you like. Add the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk mixture, and beat just until combined.

Gently fold in the diced Champagne-soaked strawberries, just until incorporated.

Scoop batter into baking cups and bake for 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

1 cup plus 1 tbsp. champagne or prosecco
2 sticks of butter softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Plus: Red or pink food coloring

Place 1 cup of champagne in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons. Transfer to a small bowl or condiment cup and allow to cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream softened butter and powdered sugar together. Once the frosting is thick and fluffy, pour in the reduced 2 tbsp. champagne plus 1 tbsp. champagne from the bottle and mix well. Add food coloring.

Pink Frosting

Then frost the cupcakes with one of the pastry bags with an open, round top. I don’t know what it’s called. Use what you want, just put in some effort, okay?

Bossypants Is My Twilight

This tweet from Mindy Kaling (of ‘The Office’) sums up my manic excitement for Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants, which just came out last Tuesday.

I didn’t actually read the whole thing in one night. That’s like making a bagel and cream cheese sandwich and eating both halves at once. I read the book over the course of 4 or 5 days, and when I got to the last chapter I was just as sad as I get when I know that soon I’ll be finished my bagel.

I’m not going to bother reviewing this book. Obviously, it was the best book ever written.

So since Bossypants is my new Twilight, this book will be my new Harry Potter:

Mindy Kaling’s book of essays comes out November 1st, 2011. And I promise you it will be better than everything ever written by Chelsea Handler.

A Vague Attempt at Being Chelsea Handler

Side note: I originally wrote this for another blog about two years ago. If I remember correctly, it was written around the time I read My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler. You’ll get why in a second.

All I wanna do is move to NYC and drink cocktails at summer rooftop parties!


Brace yourself, readers (and by readers I mean both of you) I am about to go all Carrie Bradshaw on you. Not totally Bradshaw, though. I’m not very good with puns, and due to my severely pronating feet, my ALDO stilettos still have the price sticker on the soles.

However, I do date. And live in a city. And have an open forum to write about it. So, that makes me Carrie Bradshaw.

Recently, I’ve acquired a lavish dating life filled with men who own limos, financiers, sensitive furniture makers, politicians with urine fetishes….sorry, that’s the real Carrie…a woman can dream, though. My actual dating life is a lot less Cosmopolitans and business suits and more Bud Lites and dockers, but the problems remain the same. My biggest problem mostly revolves around the issue of dinner.

What part of the dinner date perplexes me? Definitely not when it comes to the menu. I have no problem ordering something like a sloppy joe and eating it like a cavewoman.

No, no. If a man can’t accept me when I have brown sauce resembling poo on my face the date might as well end there because gross eating habits is one of my many charms.

Many. Many charms.

The big problem lies with the check.

I love a free dinner. I enjoy food so much more when I know someone else is paying for it. Usually on dates I allow my date to pay if he offers. Of course I put up a half-hearted fight. “Ohhh, are you suuuuure? Really, it’s fine if you want to split it…I got two drink, lobster, and dessert– I feel baaad….”

I don’t really feel bad.

However, I have begun to realize that apparently men expect “things” if you let them pay for dinner. This was brought up to me recently by a boy (and the operative word here is ‘boy’) who after buying me dinner made some inappropriate advances on a second date. Perhaps they were appropriate advances for a Samantha Jones, but I, as previously stated, am a Carrie. After denying these advances, I was promptly called a tease.

This was perplexing. Last I checked I did not mention at any point in the evening, “Shall we move forward with some feverish love making?” So, I was confused as to how he was under the impression that dessert was to be served bedside. And then I realized:

He bought me dinner! So, clearly there is no such thing a gentleman anymore. Apparently, some men find women to be less than prostitutes. Prostitutes get cash, whilst women are supposed to accept a steak. This won’t do.

The other option is splitting the check (me paying for him is not on the table. Not that women shouldn’t pay for men if they want, because I’m all about the feminism. I’m cheap first and empowered second). The problem with splitting the check is now your date thinks you don’t like him and just want to be friends. Or at least that’s my excuse for not insisting on going halfsies.

The way I plan on dealing with this dilemma is allowing my dates to pay for me and just take the name calling. Yes, I could just split the check, but I’d much rather save my money for some Jimmy Choos. Sticks and stones may break your bones but at least I can afford the hospital bill.