Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Making History

Whatever your politics, today is an exciting day. A new year, and the inauguration of a new leader.

For President Obama, the work began immediately after the election -- people are expecting major changes, quickly. But this post isn't to debate ideologies or agendas (especially since that's much more Chris's area). Instead, in celebration, make some time to watch the media's coverage: stream it online, hole up in a conference room or do whatever else is necessary to catch even a moment of this historic day.

Oh, and if you're feeling particularly patriotic, follow my lead and mix up some bipartisan cupcakes.

Mini Red (and Blue) Velvet Cupcakes,
with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Icing

Cupcake Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 ounces water
1 ounce red food coloring / 1 ounce blue food coloring (admittedly, I skimped on these amounts; the blue could have been more blue, but the red was still quite bright)
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Icing Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound butter, room temperature
2 pounds powdered sugar, sifted
Seeds from one vanilla bean

Cupcake Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a bowl and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, water and vinegar, and blend well.

Alternatively add the dry ingredients and buttermilk a little bit at a time, and mix on low, scraping down the sides occasionally, and mix until just combined.

Divide batter into two bowls, add food coloring to each and blend to combine.

Pour the batter into the cupcake tins. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cupcakes comes out clean.

Cool completely before icing.

Icing Preparation

Whip the butter and cream cheese together in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until creamed.

Gradually add powdered sugar to the mixture and scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla bean seeds, and mix until combined.

Use the frosting right away, or store in the refrigerator up to a week.

Frost cooled cupcakes with the vanilla bean cream cheese frosting.

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