Thursday, December 31, 2009

Case Study 42: "The Resolution"

I have a confession to make: I am not great at making resolutions.  I actually can't remember a single one.

Either I'm more of a Lent-keeping kind of girl, or I've simply always believed that every tomorrow promises a fresh start- to hit the gym, to not meals out of cookies and champagne, to read more, or to do whatever it is people typically promise to do.  Better yet, I've never looked back on any year, as wild, as imperfect, and as unpredictable as it could be, and shaken my head, thinking that I could have lived it differently.  2009 was a perfect example of that, and this New Years' Eve, I resolve to not live the next year any other way.  

It was a year that spanned the charts.  A year full of surprising and awe-inducing love, changes and sudden losses, and new life.  A year in which transitions of wandering and searching were trimmed with sojourns of reflection and closure, and I discovered inspiration in the most lovely and unusual places

"The Resolution" is an orange and vanilla creamsicle cupcake with champagne cream filling and vanilla bean buttercream on top.  It's sweet and fresh, and rings in the new year with metallic dust and glitter flakes.  Sparkling and golden, it shines in reflection of the past and is aflame with hope for what is to come.

I guess I've always viewed life less like a pie, and more like a french gâteau.  What I mean is that on this last good day of the year, I am filled with nothing but gratefulness for the experiences and people who have added layers to my mille-feuille of a life.  Seeing it from both sides now, my future will always grow stronger because of them. 

2009 was a perfectly imperfect year, and though you might never know it, I couldn't have done it without you.

"The Resolution" (adapted from Amy Sedaris' Cupcakes, aka the best vanilla cupcake recipe)

1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter
1 ¾ cups of sugar

Beat well, then add:

Add 2 large eggs
2 Teaspoons of pure vanilla
½ teaspoon of salt
2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
2 ½ cups of flour
1 ¼ cups of milk

For orange half:

Orange zest 
Orange food coloring

1. After following instructions above, split batter in half, and add 20 drops of food coloring and a tablespoon of orange zest to one half.
2. Fill cups with half orange, half vanilla batter, and run a knife through to marble.
3. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

Champagne Filling (adapted from Cupcake Bakeshop)

1/2 cup dry champagne or other sparkling wine
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup tablespoons chilled whipping cream

1. Whisk the champagne, sugar, cornstarch, yolks and corn syrup 
2. Set bowl over a bowling water (bain marie) and whisk constantly until mixture has tripled in volume, about 15 minutes
4. transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer, beat until completely cool, about 5 minutes
5. In a clean bowl, beat cream to soft peaks
6. Fold cream into cooled custard
7. Fill cupcakes using the cone method.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream

2 sticks butter, softened
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup milk
4-6 cups confectioner's sugar

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.
2. Add 1 cup confectioner’s sugar and mix until combined.  
3. Mix in remaining cups of confectioner’s sugar, and additional milk if necessary.
4.  Frost cupcakes, and sprinkle with dusts and glitter 
5. Toast friends, and enjoy, with fond thoughts of the past year, and sheer excitement for the new one.

*I doubled this cupcake recipe for the holiday, and doubled the frosting as well.  The champagne filling, however, was just right as a single recipe!

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