I recently had a talk with my friend Kate who said she read the cupcake trend was coming to an end soon for a variety of reasons - the new fad of funky flavored ice cream, the bad economy, the over-saturation of cupcake bakeries. I was generally unfazed and unsurprised.
"Of course it is. You read about my Rocktar Ingredient Theory. Remember in the late 80's how every chef and product went insane for kiwis? Or the craze Alice Water's caused over her deification of green zebra heirloom tomatoes? I knew cupcakes were going out of style about a year ago," I said with assurance and a touch of arrogance.
My friend Kate looked at me,"Didn't you say you were making some later today?"
"Yes, but that's not the point. You see, just because it's out of style doesn't mean you can't still eat it and love it," I replied smugly.
Food fads aren't quite the same as fads in music and fashion. The way I see it food is centrally focused and has a direct purpose: to provide sustenance. Furthermore, food has the additional bonus of providing extreme pleasure through the senses. If something tastes good we get satisfaction from it. While you might not see kiwis on every plate at a restaurant, people still buy, grow, eat, and cook with them. The fad may be over but the food in question is still present and visible in the public consciousness, it just doesn't sit on a pedestal anymore.
Cupcakes may go out of style and a few cupcake shops may close, but no one will ever recollect about 2008 and wonder what they were thinking when they ate that cupcake with dulce de leche frosting. They'll think how sweet and moist the cake was, how the frosting had just enough salt from the cream cheese which tempered the rich dulce de leche. They'll remember the crunch of the almonds and the spice of the rum.
Then they'll go and make those cupcakes again because to hell with fads - good food never goes out of style.
Rum Soaked Vanilla Cupcakes
adapted from Gourmet - makes 12
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of spiced rum (break out the Captain Morgan)
1/2 cup whole milk
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Put cupcake papers in a muffin tin.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
3. Beat the butter and sugar together for a few minutes in high until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and rum and beat for another minute or two.
4. Add the flour mixture and milk alternatively in batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing until just combined.
5. Divide batter among cupcake cups. bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. When cooled brush with rum. Allow it to absorb for 10 minutes. Brush again with second coat of rum. When the rum is absorbed frost the cupcakes.
Dulce de Leche Cream Cheese Frosting
5 tablespoons of Philly cream cheese
1/2 cup of dulce de leche
1. Beat the cream cheese on high for a minute. Add the dulce de leche and beat well. Frost cooled cupcakes and then add a small amount of slivered almonds.