Friday, July 02, 2010

pas si doux: cupcake attempt

[photo by Anna]

Yesterday, Stefan and I met Anna and Ryan (up from Altoona, PA on their way to Nantucket) at the Minute Man National Park in Concord, MA. Meeting up with old friends feels like remembering a part of yourself that somehow you'd forgotten for a time: at once comforting and fun and rejuvenating. In fact, it was Ryan and our friend Nathaniel who, back at Purdue a million years ago, coined the nickname Fancy. I added the Pantalons to be cheeky.

Good friends make for willing guinea pigs, and I decided it was time to experiment with some pas si doux Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes. Made with only half the sugar called for in the recipe. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I modified the recipe on the back of the Hershey's cocoa box. The last time I used the recipe, Stefan declared it his favorite cake that I'd ever made. And, honestly, chocolate, cinnamon and cayenne? Hard to ignore. Instead of all-purpose flour,  I chose King Arthur's organic white whole-wheat flour (white indicating the type of grain, not that it's been bleached). In fact, most ingredients were organic -- with more research, I'll make sure that they're all organic (and local, too, where possible). 

The frosting called for vegetable oil, but I used organic, unsalted butter instead, based on my recent foray into fats research. And it called for milk, but I jumped completely off the wagon (it was late; I felt giddy) and used coconut milk which gave it a cool, creamy consistency. And maple syrup instead of confectioner's sugar. Just for fun. I've been trying to restrain my creative impulses with the hard logic of baking science, but it's an uphill battle.

And speaking of battles (of the Revolutionary War variety), I'll direct you to Newlywed Newly Veg, Anna's blog of gorgeous photos and gourmet eating for more on our adventures along Battle Road (and more photos from our lovely picnic).


And some queries for you, dear readers: what do you look for in a frosting? Favorite cake/cupcake flavors? I'm already concocting my next experiment...


  1. These look "wanting more than one" good. My least favorite icing is one that contains chocolate, sour cream and confectioner's sugar. My favorite is a boiled icing my grandmother made with butter, granulated sugar and Baker's unsweetened chocolate. I've never been able to quite duplicate it. I like regular cream cheese icing with conf. sugar (granular wouldn't incorporate well enough), caramel icing. I'll have to think of more. I think you can successfully reduce sugar in most recipes. When baking, the "scientific" process is in the balance of baking powder and/or baking soda or both. A higher gluten flour will give you a denser product which isn't bad at all. The more gluten (protein) in the flour, the chewier. Biscuits, scones, pie crusts are really better with a southern milled (less protein) flour such as White Lily or Martha Washington. The best fat in a pie crust is lard! I've never used lard. I've never been successful in making pie crust. Can't wait to see more creations. Can't wait to taste some of them.

  2. I love, love, love my mom's homemade (or, as a sign near our house in SC says: ho-made) carrot cake. It's absolutely the moistest thing ever, and the cream cheese icing that accompanies it is out of this world. Carrots and cream cheese don't seem so sweet, do they? So maybe with a little less sugar this could be a hit?

  3. B: Thanks for all the info. Is it the tanginess of sour cream in frosting that puts you off?

    K: Pas Si Doux no more. From here on out, it's Ho-Made Baked Goods, Inc. (That sign is killing me. Killing me.) Also, love the carrot cake idea. In something like yellow cake, less sweetness might be really noticeable, but hopefully in carrot cake, the spices would take center stage. And oh, my, cream cheese frosting.... :-)