Not a real turtle. but once when ponder “what animal would you be if you were an animal” in college I decided my friend be would a turtle. Turtles make great friends. They’re cautious and cheeky and sage and can bite off your finger or munch passively on a leaf. Turtles hang around. In cartoons they are depicted as grumpy or really chill or plucky and cute. They carry their home with them. Turtles are awesome.
This particular turtle has a favorite cocktail: Makers and ginger. So when my turtle was turning 28, I brought some Makers and ginger cupcakes to the park to celebrate, decorated with, well, turtles. But delicious turtles. Turtle, turtle, turtle.
Makers Mark and Ginger Ale Cupcakes
For the cupcakes (makes 1 dozen) If you prefer to use cake mix, make sure you purchase a dark chocolate variety, make according to recipe with addition of ground ginger. Substitute 2 oz water with bourbon if you like them extra boozy.
- 3/4 cups unsweetened dutch process cocoa powder (I prefer King Arthur’s Double Dutch Dark Cocoa, your chocolate cake comes out close to black in color and tastes fudgy rich. This is not some weak Hershey’s mess. This is real cocoa for the chocolate lover.)
- 3/4 cups all purpose flour (no specific endorsement here)
- 1 teas espresso powder (optional)
- 1 teas ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sour cream
For the glaze
- 2 oz semi sweet chocolate
- 2 oz bittersweet chocolate
- 2 Tbs corn syrup
- 1 Tbs butter
- 2 oz Markers Mark
- 1 teas ground ginger
- lime zest
For the frosting
- 1 8oz block of cream cheese
- 1 stick (4 oz) butter, softened
- 4-5 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 oz Maker’s Mark
- 1 teas vanilla extract
- candied ginger and marzipan tutles for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard cupcake tin with cupcake papers. Place cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside. In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing with each addition one. Add vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low. Spoon in the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with sour cream, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
Fill cupcake tins 3/4 full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the cupcake comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. You can glaze the cupcakes warm, but let cool completely before frosting.
Make the glaze: melt chocolate, butter, corn syrup, ginger and lime together over low heat in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. If you have bad luck scorching chocolate, use a double boiler. Whisk in Maker’s Mark. Poke holes in cupcakes with a skewer or fork. Spoon glaze over cupcakes, using the back of the spoon to spread the glaze into all the nooks and crannies. Let cool.
While the glaze cools, make the frosting. Using a hand mixer, combine cream cheese and butter in a large bowl. Add 1 cup confections sugar and mix well. Add Maker’s Mark, ginger, and vanilla. Mix in remaining sugar, adding more in necessary to reach desired consistency.
- Dye one pea sized ball of marzipan white
- Dye one pea sized ball of marzipan black
- Dye one ping pong sized ball of marzipan green.
- Leave remaining marzipan natural color.
Shape four small balls of marzipan together to form feet. Roll a log of marzipan to form body and head, rounding the head end and curving it upward at a cute, expressive angle. shape small amount of green marzipan into a disc to drape over naked turtle to form a shell. Flatten tiny discs of white marzipan to form eyeballs. Add an even tinier disc of black on top of each to form pupils. Using a toothpick, lift eyes and place on head of turtle.
It started because I realized, for all my claims of following a heathly diet– booze and cupcakes aside, of course– I still eat a lot of processed food. I love vegetarian and vegan fake meat products. I’m not the kind of vegetarian who believes that eating soy bacon is somehow a hypocritical act. It may mimic the deliciousness of real bacon (in my opinion; others loudly disagree) but no pigs were harmed in the making of the product. (Though I imagined many were insulted.) That being said, all those foods are still products, as are most of the things we eat, no matter how healthy their packages claim they are. So, long story short (too late!), I decided to see if I could go a month without eating processed foods.
The first problem was condiments– but I was delighted to learn that mustard, in most basic recipes, is inherently boozy! You could substitute water, but the recipes call for drinking-quality wine OR BEER. Hurrah! Now, don’t be scared, dear reader. It turns out making mustard is much easier than anything we’ve suggested you attempt so far.
German-style Mustard with Beer
6 tbs mustard seeds (yellow, brown, or a mixture)
1/2 cup mustard powder
3 tbs vinegar (white, sherry, or apple cider)
1/2 cup COLD beer
1 tbs honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
Optional: horseradish or other fresh herbs
Crack the mustard seeds using a spice or coffee grinder (or, I guess, a mortar and pestle). The more finely the seeds are ground, the smoother the mustard– it’s completely to taste. Combine the seeds, powder, and salt in a glass or ceramic bowl, then add the vinegar and beer. (A note on the temperature: apparently, because of chemistry and its wonderfulness, the temperature of the liquid in a mustard recipe affects the reaction the liquid has with the insides of the mustard seeds. Colder liquid will give you a spicier mustard.) Then add the honey and herbs, if desired. Cover and store in the fridge for at least 12 hours before serving; it takes the bitterness caused by the reacting mustard that long to subside.
So there it is! Make your own condiments.
Erin had a birthday recently, and naturally I offered to make her boozy cupcakes. (One cannot make their own birthday cupcakes; its just not done. It is just not done.) Erin is a very special lady, so I wanted to make a very special boozy cupcake. But being me, I had to work late/take a final exam/have celebratory drinks the night before, my incredible indecisiveness and aforementioned flurry of activity left no time to ponder what kind of cupcake Erin would be if Erin were a cupcake.
So I made a batch of yellow butter cake mini cupcakes while waiting for inspiration to hit. While those baked I needed to shower/clean my apt/fight crime so good thing even minis take about 15 minutes and I had to do 2 batches because I don’t own enough mini tins. (Dear Mom…for Christmas I would like…)
I also decided that Erin would be something sweet/summery/awesome, which to me equals daiquiri. Also, birthdays make me nostalgic, and strawberry daiquiris are the best kind of virgin cocktail since essentially, they’re a smoothie. We were allowed to drink virgin daiquiris at our 8th grad graduation dance and we thought we were so cool. Who doesn’t want to think they are that cool again?
Since cupcakes were baked, I glazed and frosted with boozy. And tears. (While the cupcakes were cooling, a very evil hairdresser decided the thing I really needed in a time crunch was a fashion mullet.) So after some sniffling/a great number of bobby pins/a very carful subway ride, (I oddly do not own a cupcake carrier….Dear Mom…), the little pink happy swirls of frosting were able to toast a very happy birthday to a very wonderful Erin.
Strawberry Daiquiri Cupcakes
- 1 batch yellow butter cake cupcakes (recipe courtesy of Martha S tewart here) baked as mini cupcakes
For the glaze
- 6 oz frozen strawberries, defrosted and pureed in a food processor
- 2 oz white rum
- 1 teas lime juice
- 1/4 c sugar
For the frosting:
- 1 1/2 sticks butter (12 Tbs)
- 5-6 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 teas vanilla extract
- 1 Tbs white rum
- 1 teas lime juice
- 2 Tbs frozen strawberry puree (left over from the glaze)
- pink sugar spinkles for garnish (optional)
Set aside 2 Tbs of strawberry puree for the frosting. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan on medium high heat, combine remaining strawberry puree, rum, lime juice and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.
Poke holes in cupcakes with a skewer or fork and spoon glaze onto cupcakes. Use the back of a spoon to spread glaze into holes. Let cool.
Prepare frosting. Using an electric hand mixer, cream butter and 1 cup confectioners sugar in a high sided bowl until fluffy. Add rum, lime juice and strawberry puree. Mix in remaining sugar, adding more if necessary to reach desired consistency, if piping, it should be a little stiffer.
Sprinkle with pink sugar sprinkles.
Eat. Can be refrigerated up to 3 days.