Monday, September 26, 2011

Chocolate Kahlua Cupcakes and a Cowboy Hat Cake

So I don't have a new recipe for you, which is a little bit of a cop-out cause I haven't posted in a while. Bear with me.

I've been busy pretending I'm in college again. Which for me would actually mean recipe testing and baking every hour of the day, and I'd probably have 17 new recipes for you. So really I've been busy pretending I'm in college for the first time while I'm visiting my friends and going to alumni weekend. And you know what it's taught me?

I'd be really good at being homeless.

First of all, if I didn't have to primp for my job every day, I wouldn't feel the need to mess with doing my hair or wearing attractive clothes. Flannel=perfection. As long as I could bathe I'd be a happy permanent camper, and as I've mentioned in this post, give me a puddle and a bar of soap and I'll be just fine (Note: puddles can also be substituted for fountains). Also, I got some practice sleeping in my car and it was pretty cozy. You wake up and everything you need is right there! Jump in the driver seat and the world is at your gas pedal. So maybe I couldn't be street-homeless, but more of the live-out-of-a-car homeless type. Plus you start to learn which places have accessible outlets and bathrooms you don't have to buy anything to use.

Are you impressed yet? Why is that look of disgust on your face? I'm just saying, if it was between you and I being homeless, I might volunteer for the job (really, you should be thanking me...). The only problem, I don't think I'd be able to do this whole baking-blogging thing for very long, and that might drive me crazy. So I'll just continue being a non-homeless person (Thanks, parents, for letting me live here! Don't kick me out now!).

Speaking of the live-out-of-a-car homeless type, I have a friend that does this. Okay, so we're not like BFFs, but we hung out once. And by "hung out" I mean we went fishing at midnight. And by "we" I mean I didn't go there with him, we just happened to be doing the same thing at the same place at the same time. So I guess it was only natural that we struck up a conversation. Also, I suggest you listen to this song. It's only appropriate.

His name was Dave, and he was there with his friend Rusty and we had a great time. Until Dave showed me the laser pointer he found and figured out how to smoke stuff out of it. That's when I called it a night. To be fair, at first I didn't know I was basically intruding on his home next to the river. I thought he just needed to get out of the house and away from his wife for some prime time fishing. It was only when we parted and he said, "Okay well I'm gunna go take the truck back to the tracks now," when I realized. Then good ol' Rusty goes, "Yeah I'm gunna head home and go in the hot tub." HOT TUB?! Dave's gunna go sleep in his truck and you're gunna go home to your luxurious, bubbling hot tub? Dave didn't seem too jealous though. And by then I could slowly back away and disappear into the night. But not forever. The next morning on my run I saw Dave! "Hey, Amanda!" "Hey there, Dave!" And we never crossed paths again.

I wonder what Dave's doing these days. Well, I can't tell you that, but I can tell you what I'm up to. I'm  making cowboy hat cakes and cupcakes with Kahlua in them, and you can, too!

So what I should have done is take pictures of each step of this cowboy hat cake so you could just look at the process instead of enduring my awkward, incoherent babbling. But I didn' here goes.

The very first thing I did (a week ahead of time) was cut the brim of the hat out of chocolate fondant, and allowed it to harden into shape by placing it on top of, stay with upside-down cowboy hat. I had to do this step THREE times. Even though I set it out a week ahead, the fondant just wouldn't harden enough to support the cake. So two days in advance I made the same thing out of gum paste I dyed brown kneaded with chocolate fondant, and by God it worked. You can just skip right to that step and avoid all the stress and frustration, if you'd like.

I made two batches of chocolate cake batter so I'd end up with three cake layers and a dozen cupcakes. Once the cakes were cooled I brushed them with Kahlua and stacked them with ganache in the middle. Then I started hacking at it with a knife til it looked like the top of the hat! There's really no fancy method to do it, just have an idea of what you want to end up with and gradually saw off cake wherever you see fit. It's all going to get covered anyway so it doesn't have to be pretty! Take too much cake off? Just put a dab of ganache and stick some cake scraps on there to fill it in. It's fairly forgiving, just take your time!

Next, I coated the sculpted cake in buttercream and set it in the fridge to harden a bit while I rolled out the fondant. Then I just covered the cake with the fondant, smoothed it out and cut the excess. I dyed some of the leftover fondant a darker brown and cut three really super long strips and braided them for the leather rope around the hat's base. And made the medallion looking thing that I painted with edible gold paint.

When you're sure the brim is hardened enough, the cake can be assembled. I put a bit of extra sticky fondant on the cake board to secure the brim in place. I did the same thing when attaching the cake to the brim. Actually that's untrue. I totally forgot to secure it all to the cake board which was really stupid of me. So I had to lift the whole finished cake up and then put the fondant underneath to attach it, which is also a frustrating step that you may skip.

The final steps were attaching the fondant medallion and braid with some melted chocolate (if you use chocolate candy melts it'll dry a lot faster), and painting the whole thing with brown food coloring to give it the look of leather.

With the cupcakes I just cut out a bit in the middle, brushed on some Kahlua and piped in some ganache. Then I put the cake back that I cut out and topped them with buttercream, a chocolate-covered almond and some cocoa powder. Done and done!

Thanks for putting up with my extra wordy post. I'll be sure to come up with more exciting recipes now that I'm no longer practicing being homeless and have an oven and the Internet within reach.

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