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.

No, not really.

Reddish Velvet Cake with Cream-Cheese-Butter-Cream

I was mistaken as I wrote the previous post; my appetite merely stopped by to pick up some things and then blew right back out of town. However, I’m a firm believer that if you’re sick, there’s a pharmaceutical solution, and I’ve been on the top-secret tier of anti-nausea medication for a few weeks now. To all ladies who may one day decide to incubate: if Zofram doesn’t do it for your barfs, demand no less than Promethazine. Remember, they’re loathe to admit it, but your doctors are technically vendors. Dr. G managed to scare the bajesus out of me the last go around, but I’m calling the shots with this one and have taken to severely berating him each time he raises my stress level over “risk.” He’s already been instructed to drop it regarding the chromosomal craps game, and if he mentions weight as an issue over the next four months, the skillet’s coming out of my purse. Once I couldn’t keep applesauce down, I decided to put mom first for the duration, and I’m delighted to find I don’t feel at all guilty about it. Save for my daily wake-up wretch, I’ve been holding food down like no one’s business, and one particular craving has hit me hard: my own cake.

My cake stand has been full and proud for over a week, and it currently showcases my first execution of red velvet with cream cheese frosting. Having a slight skin-crawl reaction to using an entire tablespoon of red food coloring, as suggested by the Guilty Kitchen’s cake recipe, I cut the amount down to a teaspoon, so mine was more of a not-terribly dark brown. I found the cake itself rather adult, with a less-is-more attitude toward sugar. When I sign up for cake, I expect a glucose-induced forehead tingle to punctuate each slice, and I was left chasing mine with Keebler rainbow cookies in a failed attempt to reach the top of candy mountain.  Mr. P, however, has sworn that his eyes sincerely rolled back upon first bite, even after I promised I wouldn’t be angry if he had just been patronizing Preggy. I have to say that a bite of the cake loaded with the frosting (pilfered from the Smitten Kitchen) is impressive indeed, but I’m unable to finish a slice beyond its surface area.

At the end of the day, if you like dark chocolate, I suspect you’ll love this. For those of us who prefer our chocolate well milked, I’ll refer you to my reliably spectacular Black Midnight Cake.

The Cake:
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C white sugar
3/4 C butter
2 eggs
2 C cake flour
1/2 C plus 2 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 C buttermilk
1 tbsp red food coloring if you play fast and loose with your liver
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp white vinegar

The Frosting:
1/2 C butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
some milk

Set your oven to 350 and grease/flour two round cake pans. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and white sugar by hand before creaming in the brown, then beat in the eggs. In a separate bowl, stir together the buttermilk, food coloring and vanilla. Dump the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, then start stirring with one hand while slowly pouring in the milk mixture with the other. Once everything’s moist, quickly stir in the vinegar, then pop the bowl under the mixer and let it ride on high for 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula, give the whole thing a vigorous stir, then divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake the layers side by side at 350 for 22-24 minutes, switching their positions at 12 minutes to keep them level. Set the pans over wire racks and let them sit for 10 minutes before inverting the layers onto the racks to finish cooling.

Cream the butter and cream cheese together with a wooden spoon until the resulting mixture is completely consistent. Add the vanilla, then stir in the powdered sugar in 1-C increments, adding just a few drops of milk with each. Once all the sugar is in, switch to a whisk to eliminate any unsightly lumps. When frosting the cake, give the circumference a few go-arounds to pile it on, and don’t be frugal in between the layers. It’s ant season, so cover it up!

A cake to do your bidding.

Black Midnight Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

Straight from the 1969 Betty Crocker, this conservatively dressed anarchist of a cake gets whatever she wants, leaving sweaty foreheads and racing pulses in her wake. Butter or shortening? Both. Can’t take a little trans fat? Then get out of my kitchen!

2 1/4 C flour
1 2/3 C sugar
2/3 C cocoa
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 C tepid water
3/4 C shortening
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

1/3 C butter
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 C confectioners sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 to 5 tbsp water

Set your oven to 350. Grease and flour two standard round cake pans. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder into a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening and sugar by hand until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, stir to combine, and pop the bowl onto its stand mixer, beating on medium speed until the batter is completely smooth. Still at medium speed, add the flour mixture and water to the batter in alternate halves (flour, water, flour, water). Once everything’s in the bowl, turn the speed up to high and beat for 3 minutes. The batter will increase in volume and the color will lighten by a few shades as the air whips in. Scrape the sides of the bowl and stir briefly to incorporate any nonconformists, then spoon into the cake pans and flatten the batter with a spatula. Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes, just until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. DO NOT OVERBAKE THIS CAKE! Take it out of the oven and let it sit in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a dull knife around the perimeters of the layers, and turn them onto wire racks to cool completely. The tops are a little sticky, so I turn them over again and set them right side up to cool, otherwise some of the cake will stay on the rack.

The frosting only take a few minutes, so wait until the cake has cooled to get started. Melt the butter and chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Once melted, turn off the stove and stir in the vanilla. Add the sugar half a cup at a time, sprinkling in 1 tbsp of water as needed to facilitate stirring. The finished product should be completely smooth; if you wind up with a greasy, mottled appearance, you just need to add a little more water and beat it vigorously. Frost the (completely cool) cake right away, using about 1/3 C between the layers.

You’ll notice that the cake layers are rounded on their tops, so you can even them out with a wire cutter or sharp knife before assembly, or you can stack the layers so that the flat ends meet in the middle to minimize sliding. Let the frosted cake sit out for 20 minutes to set the shell, then store it in a cake-saver to preserve the magic. You can keep the rapidly dwindling remains sealed up at room temperature for a week, or you can plan on calling in tomorrow and throw yourself a party for one.

In need of a little spousal praise?

Cherry Dreams-of-Me Cake

A man’s burliness is in direct proportion to his affinity for pink desserts. He just doesn’t want to be solicited for his delight.

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 egg whites (do not beat)
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp lemon extract
8 maraschino cherries, minced

1/3 C butter
3 C confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp maraschino cherry juice
3 tbsp whole milk

Set the oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, then stir in the egg whites, extracts and cherry juice. Add the flour, powder, soda and salt. Stir the dry ingredients in with one hand while pouring in the milk with the other and continue to stir until well combined. Using a hand-held or stand mixer, beat the batter on high for three minutes, scraping the sides once every minute. Pout the batter into 2 greased and floured round cake pans, and bake at 350 for 40 to 50 minutes (until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the center). Remove from the oven and let the cakes stand in the pan for ten minutes before turning them onto wire racks.

Heat the butter for the frosting in a medium saucepan over low heat. Turn off the stove as soon as the butter is completely melted, and add the vanilla to the pot. Slowly stir in the 3 C confectioners sugar, 1/2 C at a time. Add milk as needed to facilitate stirring. Once everyone else is in, add the cherry juice and stir the frosting vehemently for several minutes.

The cake should have cooled to room temperature upon frosting. This recipe makes plenty, so feel free to go wild between the layers. Leave the frosted cake uncovered until the frosting develops a slight shell, then cover and keep at room temperature. Don’t even bother serving without a tall glass of milk.

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