Monday, May 25, 2009

Mango and spices and. . .amish. . .oh my?

I've been busy. Super busy. Super, uncomfortably busy. Supe- well, you get the point. Between working, working some more, planning a wedding, DIYing a lot of it on my own (another blog, perhaps?), volunteering, and trying to remain sane, I needed a mental vacation. 

So where does a city mouse like myself with a shopping problem and more makeup than your local drugstore go? Why, Amish country of course! For those of you who don't know what in the everloving cake i'm talking about, here's the abbreviated version:
Amish people live for the most part (around here, anyway) in Lancaster county, PA. They're of the belief that what we consider modern convenience is unnecessary, travel by horse drawn buggy and do not use electricity. I'm talking the whole deal-farm your land barefoot, raise barns, park your horse in the driveway, wear homemade clothes. *Disclaimer: If any of what I just said about the amish is untrue, my sincere apologies-but I DO know that they don't use computers- so let's be honest, they'll never know. * It's also where i've been going camping for the greater part of my life. Something about the open land, lack of smog, and genuinely friendly people make it amazing for unwinding. 

That being said, city mouse needs to shop. And while i'm sure one can never have enough bonnets, teeny tiny spoons that say Lancaster on them, and preserves (handmade with love by a wonderful spiritual amish family, naturally), I needed something else. Something that I could take back with me to my modern world. Something, like this:

In the midst of all of the bread mixes, homemade pies and jellies, and general fatty goodness, I found this little cupcake mix. It had everything I needed at that moment. Yumminess (I always need yumminess), something I could write about, something I could bake, and something that wouldn't severely mess up my kitchen while doing so (remember, we were going for stress free). All this, and super cute packaging. . .We have a winner.

It's made by Pelican Bay Ltd, and includes cupcake mix and frosting mix. I chose Ginger Spice Cupcakes with Mango frosting because i'm a sucker for all things ginger and/or mango. The other varieties included pear with caramel and lemon with raspberry. Upon going to their website (where you can order a catalog) I found some super cute stuff-if you take nothing else away from this, at least pay it a visit for the cute mixes-you might get some ideas of things you want to bake. 

All thats needed to make 12 cupcakes is the mixes, butter, cream cheese, an egg, oil and milk. Not bad. A- on ingredients, because I hate not realizing I need cream cheese for something until after i've already started- which happens a lot, and is my own fault. Remember those teachers that graded unfairly even though they knew they were in the wrong? Just like that. A-. 

Bonus points for the little silicone spatula (spoonula for you Rachel Ray people, which I am not one of-::begin rant:: JUST SAY OLIVE OIL FOR GODS SAKE!! DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO HAVE A "CUTE" ABBREVIATION?! ::end rant::) that would be great for little hands, had it not broke while I was taking it out of the wrapper:

Oh well, they tried. Bonus points anyway.

Anywho, once assembled, the cupcake batter looked and smelled promising-your typical spice cake mix, really fragrant and darker in color:

After 27 minutes, you had 12 (which is exactly what the recipe called for) nice sized cupcakes. 

That's them, cooling on my stove-hint: not necessary to invest in an overpriced three tier cooling rack if your stove grates come up high enough off of the actual burner. My stove leaves plenty of room for air to circulate under and around the cupcakes, and the burner itself isn't in that consistent state of warm that a lot of stoves do. Now, go spend that extra money on a new shirt. 

On to the icing:

The icing mix ingredients included powdered sugar and artificial mango flavoring.  Don't ask me why I didn't think of this earlier, considering I HATE really artificially flavored things. Did I think there were mangos inside the little box? Maybe seeds to plant my own mango tree? I don't know what I thought, but whatever-it was could not prepare me for this:

Happy Halloween! Really though, this is pretty accurate to the real-life color of the frosting. It was very. . .orange. Like, crayola orange. Artificial, crayola-like, unappealing orange. I have expected it to taste like carrots. I'm willing to look past it though and taste it, in the name of, um, research. Or severe hunger. 

When I taste, I taste separately, and then together. I eat the cake on its own, the frosting on its own, then altogether. The cake seriously gets an A. It was a really nicely spiced cake, and tasted very homemade-and this is coming from someone who isn't super crazy about spice cakes. The frosting? Big fat F. It tasted like fake. I can't describe it, but it was super fake. Now mind you, that's why there are other people are here-to counterbalance my opinion. So, what do you think, oh esteemed panel of judges?

Yes, second one down is a sideways thumb-thats code for "the cake is good but I don't like the icing". Which is what I would have given this, had I been in charge of giving a thumb gesture vote. However, the completely enthusiastic third thumb might out rule this, since she's never been so excited about a cupcake in my entire life. The final creation? 

And the clean up? Judge for yourself:

Minimal, if i've ever seen it. So, the final verdict? B. I have to trust others' opinions on this one, since I was pretty much overruled. I think it's worth a try, maybe worth your own icing added to it. Like I mentioned before, at least take a trip over to the website and get some ideas!

Next up, and just in time for putting on your bathing suit and regretting supersizing your number four: Low fat cake!

I'm hungry. . . shouldn't you be blogging?

Okay, looking back at the date of the last post, I realize a couple of things.
1. I'm slacking on my baking responsibilities
2. I need to have less on my plate (plate as in things to do, and plate as in this white cheddar popcorn I can't put down).
3. I have no concept of time whatsoever, and should invest in a comprehensive calendar/organizational system

So what's a girl to do?
  •  First, bake up a storm-there will be this weeks regular post, a special *bonus* (read: there's a lot of extra eggs in the house) three day weekend post, and plans for the next 65-yes, you read that correctly, 65- posts. 
  • Second, prioritize-Laundry, or cupcakes? Vacuum, or blog? It's obvious from my lack of clean work shirts and 3 gained pounds that we know who's going to win this one.
  • Finally, well, nothing. I've never been good with a planner- I write a bunch of stuff down in it and never refer to it-only to find out two weeks too late that I really did make that doctors appointment, I missed three birthdays, a lunch date, and work last Thursday. 
All of this, coupled with the fact that every time people I know get hungry, they go "I could really use a cake *cough cough*" or, "When was the last time you blogged? *ahem*" gives me writers guilt. To make up for it, I give you my adventures in the kitchen this past week. Stay tuned!