Fellow bakers, I have a delicious bit of advise for you. If you don’t already, find a special person in your life with similar tastes in sweets and a birthday very close to yours. Then you have the perfect excuse to make the kind of birthday cake you like best, without feeling like a loser for baking your own birthday cake!
Stop looking at me like that. It’s perfectly sound logic.
So Boy’s birthday is four days before mine, and he is just as big a chocolate fiend as I am. Being the loving (and otherwise gift-less) girlfriend that I am, I naturally had to bake not one but two types of chocolate cupcakes for – ahem – his birthday.
I started with the known hit. Last year I baked a devil’s food recipe I found somewhere on www.foodnetwork.com. Naturally, I have long since lost track of which one – I just wrote down the critical things and “Food Network” in my recipe notebook and then cried a little when I searched the site for devil’s food again and came up with a few dozen results.
I topped said devil’s food cake with the chocolate frosting recipe off the back of the Hershey’s cocoa powder container. I did something wrong with the frosting such that it came out super-fudgy, very tasty, and not at all easy to spread. I wound up stuffing part of the cake with the fudge then thinning the rest until I had nearly double the intended quantity. This year I knew to start with half the ingredients and then be sparing with the sugar and generous with the milk.
Just to add a little more variety – and to finally satiate my curiosity – I took advantage of the opportunity to test drive another recipe I’d been wanting to try for well over a year.
I’d heard some of the buzz around Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious when it first came out a few years ago. For those not already familiar, this is a cookbook aimed directly at moms who can’t get their little ones to eat healthy things. All the recipes are for pretty standard comfort and snack foods, but with secret ingredients like sweet potato, cauliflower, or spinach.
Being a relatively health-conscious non-mother, I was intrigued by the concept, but not quite enough to run out and buy the book. Then a friend with the world’s pickiest two-year-old showed up with a copy and started raving about the chocolate cupcakes made with avocado puree. Madness, I thought, but as I continued my search for the perfect chocolate cake recipe, I vowed I would try it one day.
As it happened, the stars aligned and that day was… three days ago. Roommie’s mother happened to have the cookbook and loaned it to me a few months back, and I decided the birthday baking bash would be the ideal time to try these mysterious cupcakes.
Let me first say that trying to puree straight avocado in a blender is ridiculously difficult, bordering on just plain stupid. Let me follow that by saying that pureeing avocado with the 1 cup of milk called for in the recipe anyway is kinda fun. (heheheh whoosh!) There is something more than a little creepy about dumping bright green sludge into what otherwise looks like perfectly good chocolate cake batter, but sure enough, it blended in without a trace and produced cake batter so tasty it almost didn’t make it into the cupcake tins. The recipe notes that the avocado taste is still detectable while the cupcakes are warm (and it is – barely), but then it disappears into the chocolate-y goodness of some of the densest and most delicious cupcakes I have ever encountered.
Suffice it to say that Boy has a new favorite cake.
Sadly, I was unable to procure cauliflower in appropriate quantities for the accompanying cream cheese frosting recipe, but my old standard unhealthy recipe served just fine…
…at least up to the point where Boy suggested that the obvious improvement was simply to cover that chocolate cake with more chocolate.
This is what trial and error is all about – next year we will have the perfect chocolate-covered-chocolate-avocado birthday cakes!
Behold! The very tasty chocolate fruits of my labor! The normal-looking cupcakes are the devil’s food recipe. The lumpy ones are the avocado recipe. Yeah, they look funny. Yes, you can see the occasional green fleck of a not-quite pureed chunk of avocado. Yes, they weigh at least three times as much as the other cupcakes, but that just means they’re extra dense and tasty!