I Heart Cupcakes

Valentine's red velvet cupcakesOnce upon a time, my corner kitchen cabinet held a half bag of flour, enough granulated sugar for a few cups of coffee, unopened baking soda, expired baking powder, and some cinnamon I used mostly for stews.

Ironically, “Chopped” is my favorite TV show, which I watch every Saturday afternoon on the Food Network. The challengers get three baskets of doesn’t-usually-go-together stuff to turn into a tasty and “pretty” three-course meal. Without a recipe, they spend the next “television” hour crazed, which is pretty much how I roll in the kitchen. For you TV foodies, you know that following “Chopped” is “Cupcake Wars,” another challenge to create something yummy and glam.

So I kind of slid into “Wars,” and for a time, watched while doing something else, like vacuuming. But cupcakes soon called to me. When my husband asked what I wanted for the holidays, I replied: “a cupcake boot-camp kit,” and that I would be taking on my own Weekly Weekend Cupcake Challenge for the winter. Now that my cabinet is filled with chocolate and cocoa powder, food coloring, candied sprinkles and glitter, candy molds, pastry bags with more than 25 decorating tips, and Dior-caliber cupcake liners, I am cranking out delights every Sunday.

To be honest, my motives at first were entirely selfish. As a dessert-lover but chronic weight-watcher, I could keep a few for us and give the rest away to avoid temptation between challenges. When I explained my plan to Mom, she replied, “Bake a cake, eat what you want, and freeze what’s left.” Really? Does that work for anyone? Aren’t most people sawing through a block of chocolate ice with a serrated knife for a sliver to throw into the microwave for 20 seconds at 10:30 at night?

I could give the rest of a cake away, but a “leftover” just doesn’t have the same charm – or effect – as a perfectly formed cupcake that is all yours and has been equally loved and doted upon as the others. I’d never drive anywhere to deliver a slice, whereas last Sunday, during the Broncos-Steelers game, I drove an hour back and forth to deliver two lemon cupcakes because they were freshly decorated and I wanted my friends to smile, which, in turn, made me smile. I can make lots and lots at one time, and share lots and lots of love. And in this crazy got-to-have-it-all world, even if they could eat more, people are delighted and appreciative to get only one apiece! This is like the Tao of Cupcake. Anyway, I need to pick up a bag of marbles – to slide into the tins to create heart-shaped cupcakes. No cards this year. Just lots of driving.

May your Valentine’s Day be as sweet.

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