Tiffy Bakes

Froscipes Pt. 1
January 7, 2010, 4:48 PM
Filed under: Experiments, Recipes

After I made my three different batches of chocolate frosting yesterday, I found myself totally unable to decide which tasted better. At first, I thought, Hey, chocolate frosting. How different can they be, right? I mean, two of them are both ganache-y anyway, and the other one is just buttercream… Oh, naive little Tiffy. Little did I know that all three frostings tasted completely different and are not really comparable, on account of their totally different textures and flavors. For a second it felt like that scene in The Devil Wears Prada, where one of the department editors (her name is Lucia, by the way — I looked it up on IMDB) is holding up two similar-looking belts, and she goes, “It’s a tough call… They’re both so DIFFERENT.” Yeah. Just call me Lucia.

To my credit, though, I did spend the greater part of the afternoon melting chocolate and beating butter and waiting for all that ganache to cool, at which point these ingredient-conglomerates felt rather more like my offspring, my brood, my little chocolate progeny, than frosting. To choose the best tasting frosting, to pick one and deem it the crème de la crème, well, I mean really, you might as well just ask Jon &/or Kate who their favorite octuplet is! Oh but wait, what about those other two? Wait, what? Huh? Oh, yeah… (Ummm, this makes sense in my head? Pinky promise.)

Anyway, as all parents and children are well aware, parents — of three, especially! — almost always have a favorite. I mean, look at Alvin and the Chipmunks. Alvin was CLEARLY David’s favorite, even though he was totally undeserving and mostly a selfish, bossy pain in the ass. Poor Theodore! How wrong is it that the nicest, most non-threatening chipmunk invariably ends up with the short end of the stick? Time and time again! And don’t get me started on Simon, who was clearly way too good for his ‘hood.

I have a point with all of this.

I made three different chocolate frostings: David Lebovitz’s Ganache Frosting, Whipped Chocolate Ganache,  and Chockylit’s Chocolate Buttercream.

The first one, hereby known as my David Lebovitz frosting, was really smooth, rich-tasting (but not buttery-rich, just chocolate-rich)… It had a nice gritty depth to it (don’t ask me what that means, I hardly know myself), and it didn’t overwhelm the cupcake flavor (“yellow cake”). Texture was okay — kind of thick, seeing as it IS ganache, after all. A bit hard to pipe, because while it was thick, it wasn’t really stiff, either.

My whipped chocolate ganache (made using a 1.25:1 ratio of chocolate to heavy cream) was lovely… very light and airy. The whipped cream taste was nice, as was the chocolate. It didn’t go well with the cake, but that can be amended, since yellow cake sucks anyway. It had a smoother texture than the David Lebovitz frosting, piped the nicest, and it was a cinch to make. (“A cinch.” Check me out, I’m all stuck in the age of outdated slang… Coolio!)

The last one, I think I will retire from all future frosting experiments. Not because the recipe was especially bad or anything… It’s just the chocolate buttercreamy way of things. It was way too sweet, as most American buttercreams tend to be; I had to add a good pinch of salt to tame it… and even then, it was a bit much. In the future, I’d like to play around with vanilla buttercream and add a splash of lemon juice to cut the sweetness… Or maybe just skip the vanilla altogether and test out a lemon buttercream instead.

So… there we are. A few paragraphs and pictures back, I said I had a point with all my Alvin and the Chipmunks talk, but now I simply cannot remember what it is.

Just kidding.

I was going to say how, like all seemingly unbiased, nonpartisan parents, I too have a favorite frosting-child. And its name is… THEDORE THE WHIPPED CHOCOLATE GANACHE! Whistles! Bells! Congratulations! I mean, don’t get me wrong, the David Lebovitz frosting/ganache frosting/”Simon” was super classy, and eating it made me feel all ritzy and swank and very “I’m wearing a little black dress; where’s MY James Bond?” but really, I think it’s better off as filling. On the other hand, the whipped ganache was so light and chocolate-y, but had that subtle whipped cream flavor as well… It tasted low maintenance, but kind of chic too. Shabby chic! Rumpled stylish! Let’s leave it at that.

Oh, and that American chocolate buttercream? Honest to God, just thinking about it still annoys me. Confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder and butter? Who do we think we’re fooling with that? It’s not frosting, it’s just nasty. And annoying. Totally Alvin. Tooootally, dude.


Mini Cupcake Oven Experiment
January 5, 2010, 1:00 PM
Filed under: Baking Equipment, Experiments

Okay, so this is not frosting, per se… This post is about cupcakes. And bakeware. Yes. Again. I just needed you to know that it appears to me that you don’t actually need to bother with adjusting oven temperatures just because you’re using a fairly dark, nonstick pan. 350 or 325 degrees? Um, just stick with 350 and increase baking time by 2 minute increments as needed. Fancy $239403290 aluminum baking pans? Who needs ’em!

In the dorkiest way possible, I attempted to answer the question “Do you really need to adjust baking instructions for the color of the pan?” And my conclusions were such:

No, you do not need to adjust for cupcakes, especially since you’ll be increasing baking time based on the feel anyhow. If it says 350 degrees by default, stay with 350 degrees; also be careful with portion sizes. 350 degrees plus a dark pan DOES get hot, so if you go overboard with batter, it will get singed on the sides. That’s the good thing about lighter-colored aluminum pans, I suppose… They’re a bit more forgiving with burns.

I love what Joy the Baker says here, though — makes me feel fifty times better about my non-fancy mini muffin pan…:

Here’s a fun secret. When shopping for these essentials stay away from Crate and Barrel and other fancy shops. Find a good (often dusty) restaurant supple [sic] store in your area and shop for the basics there. Cheap cheap cheap and quality that can stand up to commercial kitchen use. It’s where all of my metal bowl, sifter, sheet pans, loaf pans and measuring cups come from.

Anyway. Other things I noted include:

  • Batter rises and poofs (never mind the improper baking terminology) at 350, but not 325.
  • Be sure to fill roughly 2/3 full. (Two-spoon system works relatively consistently.) Any more than that and you start to get lightly burnt edges.
  • Mini cupcake liners don’t perfectly fit my baking pan, so at 350, if the batter is uneven and expands and pushes the paper liners toward the walls, the shape at the base of the cupcake gets kind of wonky. You could possibly remedy this simply by shaking pan to level batter… kind of.
  • Try using nut & party cups instead? (!)

Top one was cooked at 325, bottom was done at 350. (By the way, please do forgive the pseudo-macro focus. I remember when I used to be awesome at photo. Granted, it wasn’t digital, and it was more fine arts and not so much about showing, but even so… I guess that’s what happen when you have no patience for a bulked up digital SLR, and the only other thing you have at hand is a camera on your telephone.)

So, yeah yeah, I mean, like I’ve been saying… Frosting experiment up next! For real this time! Promise.