Happy Singles Awareness Day

JUST KIDDING, DUMMIES, I HAVE A DATE THIS YEAR!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAAHHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHHDHAHDAUIHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!@@!!!!!!!!!!!

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Sorry to gloat. If it makes you feel any better, I ate a Sprinkles cupcake and a mocha latte for breakfast and now I feel sick….

……except I don’t even care because they were both free, compliments of my office building!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! anigif_enhanced-buzz-350-1378883218-16

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Cro-nuts for Crumbnuts

How’s my week going?

Well, I almost drove into oncoming traffic while looking at a poster for cronuts in the Crumbs Cupcakes window, I’ve been commuting 45 minutes to work in a car with no A/C in 100 degree weather, and at one point, a Trader Joe’s cashier seemed genuinely concerned for my well-being. 

Overall, I find TJ’s employees to be way too prying and overly friendly. I appreciate them asking if I have a fun weekend planned, but they always take that next step too far and ask me what I’m doing. You have checked my ID and can see I’m a 24-year-old buying only $4 wine, egg whites, a quart of skim milk, and Ezekiel bread, so what do you think I’m doing? Eating an egg sandwich for dinner, drinking a glass of wine while listening to “Bad Girls” by MIA, then teetering around West Hollywood in cork wedges, desperately trying to make a human connection with a man I hope won’t slip a rohypnal into whatever variation of a gin and elderflower cocktail I’m drinking. Like, why bother asking?

Anyway, my cashier made some intense eye contact and asked if I was okay, then proceeded to tell me how I have “beautiful eyes, and do I get that a lot?, and I just think this world is just such a hard place and we should all be kinder to each other and compliment each other more.” Now, I could, could have launched into a feminist tirade about how he would never say that to a male customer, and why does he assume that my emotional well-being is tied to a strange man’s approval of my appearance, BUT. But. He meant well. I think he gave himself a pat on the back for probably saving me from turning on some Patsy Cline and Girl, Interrupting myself in a warm bath. And let him think that.

In reality, though, I just have something called a Resting Bitch Face, so people are constantly asking if I’m okay.

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Anyway, anyway. Crumbnuts. Probably the best part of my week? They’re just a cross between a donut and a croissant, though I will go out on a limb and say these particular cronut knock-offs are just a croissant shaped like a donut, filled with Bavarian creme. Still good, though I felt like a garbage can after I finished it. God did not intend for humans to eat cronuts. Or movie theatre nachos. Or Dominos stuffed cheesy bread. Yet here we are, and here we shall remain. Human trash compactors.

Sorry, does this sound like a suicide note?

If you’re interested in reading something that doesn’t sound like it was written in Winona Ryder’s journal circa 1992, you should check out Kasey’s Kitchen, a blog written by my coworker, without whom, those cronuts would not be possible. She had a bunch of Crumbs gift cards and a dream.

Also, formal apology to Kasey for including her in my bell-jar of a blog post.

Sugarlyn Cakes

I have lived a very difficult life at the hands of my mother. Because of her, nearly every elementary school class birthday has been ruined for me. Since childhood, I have had an extremely refined palate for cakes due to her superior baking, which makes it impossible for me to enjoy grocery store baked goods or canned frostings, and I seemed to be the only 8 year old who knew that apple juice does not go with cake. Milk goes with cake, MILK! Who raised you, elementary school parents? Certainly not my mother.

On a weekly basis I had to politely eat the cupcakes and juice parents brought in for birthdays, wishing that like the other students, I was blissfully ignorant to the delicious cupcakes that existed in the world. Cupcakes that ruin you for all other cupcakes. The only solace I had was when my birthday rolled around and my mother could finally bring in her baked goods and MILK. We always killed it for my class birthday. In the fifth grade, I came up with the brilliant and totally unexpected plan to have a Hoodsie sundae bar. The best class birthdays always came from the chubby kids, and thanks to my size 16’s I was throwing milk-fused ragers.

I’ve always told my mother she should sell her cupcakes, and after winning the baking contest at the Fluff festival a few weeks ago, she finally decided to do it!

Introducing Sugarlyn Cakes!

 

{instagram: @daralaine}

So if you ever want to order some, let me know. For the drop-off, we can meet in a public, neutral location in case you’re using your cupcake order as an opportunity to murder me while enjoying delicious treats.

5 Favorites Friday

1. The Office– I had stopped watching The Office after last season. I’m not sure why because I sincerely enjoyed Michael Scott’s last few episodes, but I think enough people were telling me they were sick of The Office, so I thought “ya, that sounds right” and I stopped watching it. I’ve done the same thing with curry and olives. I’ve heard my parents say often that they don’t like curry or olives, and since it wasn’t that important I just decided not to form my own opinion on it and take on their’s. Turns out, I don’t mind curry but hate olives as much as I told myself I did. Back to the show. So, out of sheer boredom I watched the whole season thus far on On Demand while I pretended to peddle on my stationary bike. Wouldn’t you know, I’m really enjoying Andy as the new boss.

2. Surprise cupcakes– While at work today someone came in with cupcakes for an employee. They were from Queen City Cupcakes, which was a place I had wanted to try, and the lady just offered me an oatmeal cookie cupcake for no reason! How unexpected! I actually made cupcakes to bring to a friend’s house tonight, so now it looks like I have no choice but to eat multiple cupcakes today. I feel like this always happens. Whenever I know I’m going to have a cupcake on a particular day for whatever occasion, a surprise cupcake always presents itself that I can’t turn down. When it rains it pours cupcakes. It’s like how people say that when you have a significant other all of a sudden you start getting all these offers from other suitors. Look, I’m not going to pretend like I know if that’s true or not. I don’t know men, I just know baked goods.

3. Gummy Prenatal Vitamin– I guess it’s a sign of the times that companies have to start making their vitamins into candy if they want anyone to take them. Ya know what though, I never miss a day with my gummy prenatal vitamins. I can’t remember the last time I took a multi-vitamin, but my totally unnecessary prenatal vitamins never go undigested. Gummy aside, this is the first time I’ve ever taken prenatal vitamins, and I can’t recommend them enough. After a couple weeks of taking it, my skin is looking like I have the glow of an expectant mother without the buzz kill of a fetus growing inside your stomach like some sci-fi movie. I think my hair is definitely softer, too.

4. Miss Representation– This documentary that was shown on OWN is a must-see. It’s all about how women are misrepresented in the media- in terms of being objectified or stereotyped, and also how men are being conditioned to think that objectifying women is normal (and stuff). It’s kind of depressing because I kind of came away from it thinking that nothing will ever change unless we all become completely genderless (which would mean no mascara, and I can’t! I won’t). Also, now I’m completely paranoid that I am objectifying myself all the time. I feel like I should start dressing like a sister wife in Utah or something. As scary as Miss Representation is, it’s also really inspiring and eye opening.

5. Salem– Tonight I’m taking a little drive to Salem, Mass to visit my friend from college. We’re going to dress up and go out, which makes me equal parts excited and petrified. I’ve never been to Salem on Halloween weekend, but I hear it is nuts. Don’t get me wrong, Halloween is my favorite holiday bar none, but the convention of wearing masks during a day that celebrates fear is probably the most irresponsible thing I’ve ever heard of. I mean, I’ve been in New York City and Las Vegas in the early hours of the morning, and I’m probably just as likely to get murdered there as I am on Halloween in Salem, but being in a crowd of people dressed as zombie Casey Anthonys and Jigsaws probably just brings a level of disorientation that only makes it seem like you’re in some immediate danger.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Oktoberfest Frosting

The title of this post is very misleading. A bait and switch if you will. I intended to make pumpkin cupcakes with Shipyard Pumpkinhead frosting last night so I could blog about what a triumph I am in the kitchen, but then realized I had none of the ingredients and it was too late for me to go to the grocery store (because I was in the middle of Desperate Housewives. I don’t even like DH anymore, but just about anything could keep me from going to the grocery store. I also didn’t end up finishing the episode).

Anyway, I ended up making squash and pumpkin pie spice cupcakes with Oktoberfest and pumpkin pie spice Swiss buttercream frosting. These were actually really good, so if you want to make it, put a can of squash in yellow cake mix. Then make Swiss buttercream and add Oktoberfest beer and food coloring. Done. You can take that recipe as your own and open up a cupcake shop or something.

Since the cupcakes didn’t work out as a recipe post, I just used them as my usual Sunday night last hurrah of sport eating until I “start Monday.” I think I’ve been starting Monday since I graduated college. It was 80 degrees Sunday so I went to the beach with my mom and dad and basically ate everything that I ate in this post.

I swear, though, I start today! What makes this Monday different from all other Monday’s? I start Oprah’s Lifeclass tonight, and please don’t underestimate how excited I am. Living my best life does not include eating 5 pieces of pizza over the course of a day!

Is anyone else doing the Lifeclass? You should so we can write in our gratitude journals and talk about it!

OP-RAH! OP-RAH! OP-RAH!

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
Plus:
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.

Frosting 
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?


Kickass Cupcakes

I’ve said before that I’ve become very disillusioned with the cupcake industry, lately. They’re just not stepping it up for their customers who have a refined palette for miniature pastries. A couple weeks ago I had a particularly bad cupcake and had sworn off them (I had another a few days ago but it was free so of course I ate it. I don’t think I’m better than everybody or something).

For graduation I got cupcakes from Kickass Cupcakes in Somerville, which I had really high hopes for. For one thing, they are pretty hyped up in Boston, and secondly, they have an abundance of cocktail inspired cupcakes and when someone tries to incorporate alcohol into any kind of food, I’m generally on board.

The frosting was really good, but the cake was the driest I’ve ever had. Seriously, how hard is it to make a moist cupcake?! Boxed cake mixes can keep it together, and my mom’s scratch cupcakes are consistently nailing it. It wasn’t just some of them, either. It was all of them and we got about 15 different flavors. I’d be willing to give them another shot, but I’m still just very upset about the whole ordeal.

Gourmet Donuts

I will always have a great love for cupcakes, but I feel like their novelty is starting to die out a little (that was so hard to type, but alas, I feel it’s true).

I’ve been hearing that pie is becoming the new cupcake. This is ludicrous, my friends. I’m just going to go ahead and say it, who ever is trying to push this trend is flat out irresponsible. Pie has virtually none of the qualities a trendy pastry should have: it’s not travel friendly- to eat pie your only option is to eat it on a plate with a fork, which makes it really difficult to pop into a shop, buy your pastry and eat on the go. Instead you have to sit down and slowly eat your pie giving you plenty of time to think and steep in your own shame. Sorry, mini pies are not the answer! The filling, people! That’s gonna get all over you- you need a plate! Also, the kitschy decorating options for pie is severely limited.

Instead, I give you a better option.

The following is partially a prediction, but also a plea to the American public to help me make this the new cupcake: Gourmet Donuts. Just look at these pictures and tell me you would rather have a slice of pie.

From Sublime Donuts in Atlanta

Sublime: Caramel Apple Fritter, Red Velvet, Dulce de Leche, Wild Berry Fritter

There are few places right now that offer gourmet donuts- these pictures are from Sublime in Atlanta, Georgia. Another is Voodoo Donuts in Portland, Oregon. I have to keep telling myself that an entire vacation to one of these places for the sole purpose of donuts is fiscally irresponsible, which is why I beg everyone with the inkling to open another cupcake shop to reconsider and make some elaborate donuts instead.

Curly Cakes Cupcakes in Beacon Hill

I like to think of myself as a bit of a cupcake connoisseur. I have tried cupcakes from all over, so if I tell you I’ve found a good cupcake you can trust me, because I have a resume full of cupcake experience.

I have been waiting for Isabelle’s Curly Cakes to open on Charles Street in Beacon Hill for two years, starting when I used to live a few doors down. The store just sat there, vacant, taunting me with a huge picture of a happy little cupcake and the Curly Cakes logo in the window. Every day I would walk by and prayed that today would be the day they finally opened.

Curly Cakes in Boston's Beacon Hill. EHHHHH bleck.

TWO YEARS later it opened, and I finally had the chance to try a cupcake from Todd English’s 17 year old daughter’s shop (okay, can we all stop pretending this girl actually owns the place and her dad didn’t just slap her name on the awning? It’s kind of like how when I was 17 my parents “gave” me a car. Really, they just let me hang my high school graduation tassel on the rear-view and don’t contradict me when I tell friends it’s my car).

Anyway, I finally was able to try a couple cupcakes. I had the triple chocolate, and I had a bite of my mom’s chocolate peanut butter cup cupcake. All that needs to be said here is they have this useless whipped creamy frosting. This is not frosting people!!! Once I realized this is what I (my mom) paid over $8 for, I shut down. The cake was pretty good. Whatever. Whipped creamy, bland frosting does not a good cupcake make.

So far, the best cupcake I’ve had in Boston is the red velvet from the much overlooked South End Buttery. Everrrrybody just looooves Sweet. Sorry, but I’ve had Sweet cupcakes, and South End Buttery’s cupcakes are better. It’s REAL frosting, lots of it (but not TOO much), and this crispy little top, moist cake, just lovely. Better than Sweet.

South End Buttery Cafe- Best Cupcake in Boston

Sweet Cupcakes...It's not that they taste BAD, they're just overrated. I'm tellin' it like it is, people!