Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I heart pot luck dinners...

I grew up a pastor's kid, and "potlucks" were little gems studding the typical timeline.

Let me clarify:  as a p.k., especially before the drivers license, I climbed into the minivan at approximately 8:00 am on a Sunday morning, with little more than a Poptart, Toaster Strudel, or bowl of cereal in my chubby little belly.  We had two services, a 9:00 am and 11:00 am, and the sermon was brought by a very excitable man (not my father); who, when the "Spirit moved him," could go on until at least 1:00 pm.  Add clean-up and that last kid who's parents were detained by, well, who knows...and my stomach would be knotted inside and out, longing for even a Goldfish cracker, crushed between a toddler's sneaker and some dried up Play-Doh.

The potluck, that bi-monthly sacred event, followed the second service, and brought gratification to my empty core.  No waiting for tables in restaurants (God help us if we got out AFTER St. Pete's), no insult to injury- just delicious, home-cooked (ok, lukewarm and fly-nibbled) victuals.

I reminisce because my church had one such event a few weeks ago, after the annual Christmas play, and I got to have my go at bringing something small and decadent.  My mother used to bring a dessert we called "cherry crisp," (to this day, one of my favorite mouth experiences), but it can get a little messy as "finger food."  So I brought these little wonders...

They are so cute.  Here is another.  What the hey...

The green ones are chocolate with peppermint Swiss meringue buttercream, and the pink are chocolate with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream.  They were adorable, and they were delicious.

Mini Chocolate Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

For the cake...

1 3/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c cocoa
2 c sugar
2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 c buttermilk
1/2 c oil
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1 c hot coffee

Sift the dry ingredients together, mix well.  Mix the wet together, except the coffee, and add slowly to the dry, mixing thoroughly, but don't get too crazy about it.  Then, slowly add the coffee, mixing all the while, just until it is incorporated.  Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of that bowl.  it can get goopy down there.  Your batter will be thin.  Grab a plastic cup, dip it into the batter, and pour your batter into your cups, just over halfway.  Work as quickly as you can, without making a horrible mess (impossible, I am sure).  Pop into an oven preheated to 350, and bake for...10-12 minutes.  But watch it, folks.  it takes longer than you think, and provided that you did not fill them all evenly, some will be done b-4 the others.  Taking into account that you will probably have to toss about 10 out, you should get about a million out of this recipe.  Or 50.  Or 24 regular cupcakes, or 2 8" rounds.  This recipe is extremely popular right now, but I have been using it for years, care of Ina Garten.

For the buttercream...

4 sticks of unsalted butter, softened but still cool
5 egg whites, at room temp
1 c + 2 tbsp. sugar
2 t vanilla extract
pinch of salt

In your stand mixer bowl, combine the sugar and egg whites.  Place your bowl over a pot of simmering water, and without ever stopping not even once, whisk the mixture until a thermometer reads 140 degrees.  Place the bowl onto your mixer, and with your whisk attachment, beat on high until you see glossy, stiff peaks (about 10 minutes).  Then, tablespoon by tablespoon, add the butter to your meringue.  At some point, the frosting might appear to have curdled, but keep beating until all the butter is incorporated.  Beat in the extract, and feel free to replace  3/4 t of the vanilla with any other flavor you like.  I chose peppermint (never add "mint" unless you want it to taste like toothpaste).

Note: If you have added the butter, and your frosting is soupy, place the bowl of frosting in the freezer for @10 minutes, remove, and beat again.  It will come together, I promise!

Frost and garnish.


1 comment:

  1. Whenever I attend potluck dinners, I usually estimate how many participants will there be, so that I’m sure that everyone will get a fair share. Anyway, those cupcakes are making me crave for one right now. Are these what you often contribute to pot lucks?

    Alysa Sliter