Thursday, March 6, 2014

#3 The car bomb. Sigourney Weaver vs Olivia Newton John.

Let me start this tale with a story about two women, a road trip, a cupcake and words beginning with X. What has this to do with with the car bomb?  Let me tell you.  The reason I fell in love with this cookbook is the little comic strip on how to make frosting.  Who does that?  Allison Robicelli that's who.  A guy with a Kid Rock "wife beater" and Rocky IV references sold me.  Then flipping to the previous page and being intimidated about all the things that could, and regularly do go wrong with French butter cream frosting.

Li: This shit is like the Mount Everest of frosting.

Now, first let me explain that apparently this is impossible to pull off with out a stand mixer.  Do I have one of those? Nope.  Can I afford one of those? Nope.  Well we whore ourselves out to anyone that will give us one? Abso-fucking-lutely

Li: Ain't too proud to beg.

A friend kindly loaned us hers for the weekend.  It arrived by Terminator delivery, (I shit you not - Just goes to show they are portable if you have a friendly Canadian and a backpack.) and I was smitten.  I felt like Smegel and his "prescious".  Li even wanted to lick it.  Never the less we had one.  No more excuses. It was GO TIME.

Li: You lick it you own it right?

This table full of crap also doubles as my desk, drawing table, knitting stash and sometimes we eat here.

I now address you to things beginning with X.  What the fuck is Xantham?  Didn't Sigourney Weaver kick its arse in Alien?

Or was Olivia Newton John singing about it in an absurd amount of ass chaffing, camel toe inducing, Lycra-fest' whilst on Roller skates.

Seriously, who the hell can pull this shit off?  (The frosting not the camel-toe roller skating)  Well us actually as it goes.  We made a small expedition to the Dutch equivalent to cash and carry (Costco to you Yanks) for supplies. This was a logistical cluster fuck of the highest order, as we got what can only be affectionately called navigationally embarrassed.  

Blame lies squarely on Harry Belafonte with his shaking and his coconuts.  Don't ask.

Li: Seriously don't.

We found the store!  Cue the chorus of Angels.  We also managed to find the xerox.  Unfortunately, this bastard was fucking enormous and cost €40.

Li: For €40 that shit better clean the house.  It doesn't. Fuck.

 Being fully invested in this project we took the plunge.  We got home and found out via Twitter (thank you @robicelli) that xenon is only needed if you live in humid climates and we had apparently bought enough to bind every bottom in an S&M club!

Li: The safe word is "spatchcock."

Onwards and upwards.  The xenopus would be returned and we would be €40 richer again.

Sunday morning dawns to me cracking open an eye and groaning.  I am hung over like a son of a bitch and smelling of alcohol and bad decisions.  Li, who is not afflicted with this condition, rocks up all bright eyed and bushy tailed.  I want to punch her in the throat.

This is Li looking all smug and chipper and my back as I lean over and try not to sob.
The 7 P's were completed the day before and we mise-en-place'd the bollocks out of it.  Well Li mainly did, I sat in the foetal position on the floor and tried not to throw up and/or wait for the sweat release of death. Which ever came first.  Joining us this fine and vomitus day was our friend Friedel.  She of the backpack toting KitchenAid.  Friedel would be taking photos and (joyously) recording this on video.  Mother of God!

We take our chocolate very seriously in my kitchen

God damn this chocolate is amazing.
There may have been a few mis-read quantities of which I take full and drunken responsibility.  The first batch turned out ok, and as there were a few more of us we decided to make a second batch.  I was not involved in said second batch and this is how we discovered that I was suffering from a brief case of alcohol induced dyslexia. That shit still tasted good, but the second batch was (I am loath to admit) better.

Li: Too much cocoa.

A brief interlude to parent the Monkey as she woke up.
Next up Whiskey Ganache.  Jamesons was not available so we used this.  This shit is strong!

At this point I would like to say that I was feeling slightly better.  This would be a lie.  Hair of the dog? Surely this would fix me.  Nope, wrong again.  Lets just leave it at that.  It looked and smelled amazing.

This stuff is magic.

Cup cakes ganache'd.

Li: We ganach'd the shit out of it.  Yeah it's a verb now.

Kitchen cleaned, we could put it off no more.  French buttercream frosting was going down!  A shit load (still an actual unit of measure) egg yolks and the KitchenAid got to beating.  There was a brief paddle vs beater incident but my goodness never have such pretty satiny ribbons of eggy majesticness.  (OMG shut up)

Li: Satiny Ribbons. This is gonna be  the name of my Tori Amos cover band.

At this juncture I am now getting 3rd degree burns from holding a thermometer in boiling sugar.  Li was making butter nuggets.  It was like a mountain of yellow rabbit poo.  There was enough butter there to clog an elephant's heart.

Thermometer turned (eventually) over to the right setting, things progressed slightly quicker.  Temperature was finally achieved!

Li: That shit took foreva!  Easy for her to say as it wasn't her hand that was melting into the boiling lava.

With great trepidation, I slowly poured the scalding molten sugar into the satiny ribbons.  I nearly passed out from holding my breath and from Li's tits trying to knock me out of the way with their puppy like enthusiasm.

It was working.

Picture the scene:

Li: Its not gonna do the thing

Zoe: Its gonna do the thing,

Li: Its not gonna do the thing.

Zoe: Holy shit it is doing the thing!

Li: We are Gods amongst men!

This has been edited somewhat as it did go on for a while.  Upshot:  It did the thing.  The EC butter mountain, which is now being painstakingly added slither by slither and we nailed it.  Faces were made that, frankly, were un-lady like.  Fuck it we totally made this frosting our bitch.

Minds were blown, chests were bumped, jigs were danced and shit got real.

At this point there was a veritable crowd gathered.  This has to be the most anticipated and well documented cupcake in the history of baking.

They are so pretty.

Even Monkey got in on the action.  To be fair I did lick off the ganashe off.  (In the spirit
of good parenting.)  Also her frosting was sans Bailey's.  She didn't seem to care.

Happy happy joy joy.

Now if you have made it this far, here is your reward.  We even had a video made.  Three mins of your time, and you will laugh your ass off.  The music is pretty damn great too. 

Li: Hold on to your butts, because next cupcake is the The Iona – pear cupcake with blue cheese frosting (yep, you read that right), candied walnuts and a port wine drizzle. I may have to put a pinkie out while we bake it.


  1. I'm exhausted. And I didn't even get to eat anything. Well done, Ladies. As you put it, you are gods among men. x

    1. Why thank you. Today we tackle the Iona. A pear and olive oil cupcake, with a blue cheese buttercream frosting, candied walnets and a port reduction. Oh yeah, it's on.