My baking is spontaneous. I’ll run home for about 40 minutes, in between dropping off and picking up my kids, and think, “Wouldn’t it create a pretty-as-a-Pinterest-picture if my darlings came home to freshly baked cupcakes?”
Instead of spending those few, treasured moments alone doing something meaningful (like watching the Game of Thrones preview on DVR or poring over Benedict Cumberbatch pics on Tumblr…Rawr.), I scramble, frantically, to bake something decadent.
My M.O. is to Google something like, “super easy fast cupcakes,” jump on the first recipe I find, and then run around turning my kitchen into a cocoa-covered disaster area while hoping for the best.
This is not, obviously, the best way to approach baking, although I’ve had luck with it in the past. Last week, I did not get lucky. No, what I got was a batch of semi-disgusting cupcakes. I say “semi” because I ate a few before I realized how truly gross they were. In my defense, they DID have sugar and cocoa in them. C’mon. You would have eaten a few too, right? In contrast, it only took Roger, Delaney, and Waylon one bite each to discover how truly inedible these cupcakes were. Perhaps my palate needs refining…
As I mixed the ingredients, I realized three things seemed off: 1) eggs were not called for; 2) white vinegar was (Yes. You read that correctly. VINEGAR. In a CUPCAKE recipe.); and 3) olive oil was the recommended fat. WEIRD, right? But I am a NOVICE baker. Who was I to argue? It was on the Internet, people. It had to be true.
The recipe also called for a cup of coffee. I’ve never turned down coffee in my life, so it seemed fair to slosh a cup into the bowl.
And, because I’m watching my fat intake, I cut the olive oil by 2/3 and substituted applesauce. It occurred to me that I was increasing the acidity of the already very acidic batter by doing this, but the clock was ticking so I pressed on.
The cupcakes came out of the oven perfectly done: slightly spongy, moist, and chocolatey (looking). I’ll admit it: a dollop of drool dripped sloppily from my mouth onto a cupcake. Whatever. There was chocolate, wafting up toward my nose. I will not apologize. At that point I was honor-bound to eat the defiled cupcake or else risk the health of my beloved family. But, before I did, I topped it and the other cupcakes with frosting whipped up from the same recipe as the one I used on my birthday cake.
As I sunk my teeth into the one (now slightly tarnished) cupcake, the taste was, well, chocolate…like. But an acrid aftertaste spread across my tongue and left me reeling. Not enough, mind you, for me to throw the batch out. No. Not me. I had to take another bite. And another. And another. Just to be sure.
“Hmmmm,” I thought. “These are different but maybe I’m just not used to such intense chocolate flavor. Maybe the problem is that they’re TOO good.” As. If.
Later, when I returned home with the kids, I couldn’t wait to see what they thought. My children will eat (and love) anything if it’s laced with copious amounts of sugar. They each grabbed a cupcake (“A treat? Before dinner? QUICK! Shove it in your mouth before she changes her mind!”) and took a bite. I’ve never seen them spit something out of their mouths so quickly before. Not even Playdoh or dog food or sticks or loose change (Kids, they do put some doozies into their mouths, don’t they?).
“Well!” I exclaimed, my feelings slightly bruised. “More for me and dad, then!”
But, alas, what I should have said was, “More for me!” More sucky, gross, sour, vinegar-laced, what-the-heck-was-I-thinking cupcakes…all for me. Hoo-freakin-ray. Because Roger took one bite and immediately tried to figure out a way to politely spit the pungent mess into the sink without me seeing, sweetheart that he is. But I did see. And that’s when I realized I’d committed the baker’s ultimate sin: I sacrificed taste (and common sense) for time.
Want a cupcake? I’ve got plenty to spare…
(I purposely left off the link to the recipe I used on the chance that it’s perfectly good. It is indeed possible that human error is the reason for my disastrous results. However, in my defense, I will say, VINEGAR?!?)