"We're having a staff meeting on Thursday, can you make cookies? I need blood sugar to be up."
"Hey Maura, everyone's gonna be bummed vacation's over. I'd love to bring in some scones."
"The teachers are having a potluck on Friday. They'll need dessert...do you mind?"
I don't mind, now that I'm no longer a restaurant slave and have time to roll up sleeves in my own kitchen. The old days were different...I'd crawl home after a ten-hour shift and could barely fake the energy for takeout- forget lemon bars and whoopie pies for thirty!
Bake sales are always a hot ticket, and in some ways more of a challenge. I love the idea of turning the kiddies onto, say, a slice of prune tart in walnut pastry (with orange blossom cream?), but I also know that if it's is a tough sell in the three-stars, it'll tank with the under-twelves. To make money with this crowd, I ease up any "cheffy" tendencies and offer something fun, tasty, and b-a-s-i-c: chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow frosting.
Lord knows there are more sophisticated ways to top a cake- a rich buttercream, a silky ganache- but what the hell am I trying to prove?
What's swell about this old-fashioned, boiled icing- also known as Seven Minute Frosting- is it's versatility: it combines nicely with toasted coconut-or sprinkles! It's a natural topping for banana splits and chocolate cream pie. Layer with butterscotch pudding. Or prepare brownies in a graham cracker crust, cover with frosting, toast under the broiler, and call it s'mores!
1 1/2 c + 1/4 c sugar
2 tbl corn syrup
4 tbl water
6 large egg whites at warm room temperature ( if necessary, stir briefly over a pan of simmering water)
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
In a small pot, combine 1 1/2 cup sugar with corn syrup and water. Stir to combine, dip your hand under the tap, and wash away any sugar that clings to the sides of the pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, occasionally washing down the sides of the pot (to prevent sugar from crystallizing) with a wet pastry brush. Cook until the syrup reaches 230 degrees on a candy thermometer. Turn off heat and let cool for five minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk egg whites with an electric mixer at medium speed until they are quite foamy. Add salt and continue to whisk until whites hold soft peaks (from this point on, try not to shut off the beater). Gradually add the sugar and vanilla. Lower speed, then pour the syrup in a steady stream down the side of the mixing bowl, taking care not to splash the whisk. Increase speed and whisk until cool (about seven minutes). If not using right away, store a room temperature in an air-tight container.
frosts about three dozen cupcakes