Let them have their pink!

Boys-Love-Pink-Food Robo-Cupcakes

Since males are expected to completely renounce a specific color from the moment they’re born, they inevitably find it alluring when it makes a rare appearance through a socially accepted vehicle. Food, more specifically dessert, is one of the only times straight men get to enjoy pink, unless they’re brave enough to wear pastel button-downs during the Spring. Even the most adamant “hands off my gender role” manly man will be drawn immediately to anything covered in pink frosting, especially if you reinforce the unisexiness with, say, robots. Manly men tend to enjoy robots. Billy the Kid was beside himself when he found the robot cupcake kit Santa left in his stocking; we used Amy Sedaris’s recipe for the cake and my cherry-vanilla buttercream to frost, flecks made possible by vanilla paste as opposed to extract. I suggest that anyone partnered to a surly lumberjackian type provide a monthly pink dessert; otherwise he may be tempted to look in unsavory places for his taboo color fix.

Cherry-Vanilla Buttercream

1/3 C butter
3 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 tbsp maraschino cherry juice
Milk as needed

Melt the butter. Stir in one cup of sugar completely. Add the vanilla, another cup of sugar, and a restrained splash of milk. Stir until completely combined. Add the cherry juice, the last cup of sugar, and another splash, stir until completely consistent and lumpless. Stir in a little more milk if the frosting seems too greasy and it will smooth out quickly.

I’d put prizes in the middle if I didn’t eat them so fast.

She-Should-Be-Reported Cherry-Vanilla Cupcakes

There are several ways in which I am a horrid mother, one of which regards the amount of cake batter I consider appropriate for the pre-bake “tasting.” Billy the Kid starts lobbying to “lick spoon” the minute the eggs hit the bowl, and he eventually obtains clearance to commence his appetizer. For the main course, he tongue-polishes the Kitchen-Aid whisk attachment clean and shiny, and finishes up by hunting for errant batter splatters on the counter. He probably puts away a quarter cup of raw flour, sugar, shortening and eggs. The tragedy is that I’m rewarded for my lackluster display of moderation; the minute the pan goes in the oven, Billy the Kid disappears into the living room, switches on the TV, and sits quietly on the couch for twenty minutes, basking in his little sugar tingle. Were he to transform into a dervish and take down the curtains in his whirl, I would impose a strict two-lick limit, but he comes up with some great stuff during his meditations. For this afternoon’s sugar bullet, we made Cherry-Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, a modified version of the Cherry Dreams-of-Me Cake. I’m a strong advocate of the No-Cupcake-Left-Uncherried initiative; without at least half a maraschino, all you have is a frosted muffin.

2 C cake flour, sifted (sift with the baking powder, baking soda and salt)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 C shortening
1 1/4 C sugar
3/4 C whole milk
3 eggs (do not beat)
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp maraschino cherry juice

Set your oven to 350. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the shortening and sugar and beat by hand until fluffy. Stir in the eggs, vanilla and extracts, and beat until well blended. Sift in the dry ingredients, then add the milk in a slow stream while stirring gently with the other hand. Once combined, add the cherry juice, whip it in quickly, then throw the bowl under the mixer and beat on high with the whisk attachment for 2 minutes. Pour the batter into lined muffin tins, and bake single sheets of 12 for 20 minutes at 350. Our batch yielded 21, but if you’ve ever heard of restraint, you might wind up with a couple of extras.

Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting with Vanilla Buttercream (recipe here, just omit cherry juice), then let them sit uncovered until the frosting sets a shell. You should be able to pile them into a display about two hours after frosting without smudging.

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