This weekend some friends and i went camping, to celebrate Aimee's birthday. Birthdays require cake. But she is not eating much animal product (vegan as practical?), and seeing if removing gluten from her diet helps with some health stuff, which means not just any store-bought cake would do! OK, and it's Miss Aimee the Cookie Mistress and no store-bought cake would do anyway, she's one of the best bakers i know!
Aimee loves salt. She's taught me to be a little less fearful of it, and even taught me to add it to things i might not otherwise, like frosting, to add a little pop. Also, we recently went to Tanglewood, and passed on some local salted caramel ice cream that all made us go "oooh". I've never made caramel before (and it will show during this saga), but thought it sounded like a fun challenge.
It's a good thing sugar isn't expensive this was a complete fail, even after several tries. And so the trash can had a feast. These were my first attempts at a gooey filling (the sugar never melted enough) and harder decorative caramel (burnt).
|Try #1 for filling came out grainy and gritty. The sugar never melted enough, I think because i left out the 'optional' water, there was never enough moisture for it to get really soft.|
|Try #1 for a harder caramel that i could break and use for decorating the cupcakes. I let it get too dark and it burned.|
I feel like maybe next time i should do some research about caramel before hand, as i ended up scrambling and not sure what i was looking for (hence so many failures!).
|This just wouldn't get hard, it kept melting at room temperature!|
The second time i adapted a non-vegan recipe, and substituted almond milk for the heavy cream. This obviously cut the fat content way down. Again, i maybe should of let this boil longer, as it was thin when i transferred it to the jar, but i was afraid of repeating my previous over-cooking error. After a night in the fridge it was much more sticky and caramel like, but when i tried to use it, it was clear, it was way too thin.
I decided that the cupcakes should have a little more depth, rather than a single flavor note, so I made chocolate cupcakes, using a similar process to my lemon cupcakes. These, however, were gritty, somethign didn't properly incorporate, either the flour or the cocoa. But they looked ok, right?
Sadly, Aimee did not get cupcakes. My time ran out before i could make a new batch of anything. I would totally fail a reality TV cooking show audition. We did, however, put candles in a cooked banana with chocolate chips and marshmallows for her on Saturday.
Still, i will make these darned cupcakes for her! Ian says that this is a sign i'm becoming a better baker, that i can tell things are not right and pitching them rather than making my friends suffer through my mistakes or something.