Okay, so allow me to reiterate: I am very clearly an amateur baker. It is imperative that you understand this before I continue this post. And you know, while I think it would be great fun to be able to make a recipe that comes out perfectly each time and looks fantastic consistently, I also think that there is a freedom and a certain power that comes in being a novice.
For one, you have all that much room to grow, which is always outstanding. When you start out on top, it’s hard to see the progress you’re making and often times you can feel like you’ve peaked and can’t go much further–this leads to perfectionism-based burnout. When you want to go higher but absolutely cannot see the way up, it can foster self-doubt and negative self-talk that only slides you furthers down the mountain as you question each and every step. When I make a mistake in a place where I was already pretty skillful in, it’s much harder for me to forgive myself and pass it off as a human moment. Whereas here, at the absolute bottom rung of baking, well… I found myself doubled over, laughing at the ridiculous mess I had made.
I also think that, when you are untrained and very new at something, you are not inhibited by ingrained techniques and rules that have given you success in the past. You can be innovative and put your own unique spin on things without the thought of “but this isn’t how I’ve always done it!” This isn’t to say that you can try new things when you’re an expert baker, but I’m saying–for me anyway– it’s easier to try new things when I haven’t solidified tried-and-trued techniques in my Baby Baker’s Brain. And it doesn’t always work–and this one did not– but I can say that I really learned a thing or two about baking –especially the eggless/dairyless side of things–with this set of cupcakes.
So, just an FYI: I will not be posting my alternate recipe today. I actually plan on remaking these cupcakes (the correct way) hopefully. In the meantime, you can find the base recipe that I used here!
Okay… without further to do… here are the Most Delicious Failure Cupcakes.
*flat trumpet fanfare*
So let’s start with the left. This was my vanilla espresso cupcake (trying to use up the rest of the coffee simple syrup that I used for the Caffeinated Chocolate Momma Cake). It was a basic vanilla cupcake–only slightly altered from the above recipe–, injected with simple syrup, with a Crisco based coffee “butter”cream and topped with unsweetened coco powder. Quite honestly, they were delicious. HOWEVER, they were underdone and incredibly dense. I’ve mentioned before that my oven runs slightly hotter, and the recipe to bake between 18-20 minutes, and I cooked it for 19 minutes. So it should have been fine! Not to mention that, testing four cupcakes, the fork came out clean. It was clean!
I’m not bitter about the fact that they were underdone… that most of the cupcake still stuck to the liner… that if Paul Hollywood came in my kitchen and pressed his Golden Bakers Thumb into the middle of the cupcake it would have turned straight into dough… no, not bitter at all.
They WERE; however, delicious. Stuck to the roof of your mouth and demanded a tall glass of milk, but delicious all the same. And I’ve decided that Crisco buttercream is better than traditional buttercream (fight me!). It was just so smooth and light, and was almost more of a spread than a frosting. MMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmM! I feel like I could just jar it up and sell it as is and make a killing!
Now for the right. *insert nervous giggle here*
So I’ve been taking my bakes up the office (and rightfully getting them out of my house because I am a stress/emotional/anytime eater). However, there is one person in the office who hates the taste of coffee, and another who is having blood pressure issues and, thus, should not have any caffeine. So I decided to be creative and take half of my vanilla cupcakes and, the original plan, was to fill them with a vegan-chocolate mousse and then do a simple Crisco buttercream.
Here is where I ended up doubled over, telling my daughter to come see what I did, and then have her try to convince me (giving me a “are you okay?” side look) that it was still edible. So the recipe that I looked at for this mousse was supposed to be simple. And in theory, it should have been. So I grab my one can of coconut milk from the fridge and I start whipping that in the mixer, add some powder sugar to it and then the coco powder.
But it’s not whipping up. It’s liquidy and flat and just not very fun to look at. So naturally, as the amateur I am, I just started adding stuff to it. I added some more powdered sugar, hoping it would help it thicken up. No dice.
Well, what if I turn this into a meringue. I’ll just throw some chickpea juice in here, turn it on high and it should air up, right?
Right? I like to believe it would have–despite my long standing feud with meringues. However, I made a terrible and unforgivable mistake… of not looking at the can I pulled from the pantry.
It didn’t smell right. Yes aquafaba does have a distinct smell that is covered up when it’s mixed in with sugar and coco powder and such. But this one wasn’t going away. And let me tell you, it was a smell that was just-slightly-crinkle-your-nose odd. Well, naturally, maybe I just need to add more? So I grab the can, ready to pour more juice in when I get a glimpse at the label.
I was attempting to make a Chocolate Sweet Pea Mousse/Meringue. Bleh! I’m pretty sure my neighbors could hear me howling with laughter. And to be honest, it didn’t taste that bad… it just had a distinct smell and pea-like aftertaste. No big deal, right? I dumped it down the sink and tried to make the meringue correctly–triple checking the can this time.
And it was DELICIOUS. I ended up just eating some from the bowl when I was done (failing) at piping some onto these cupcakes. Like… look at it! You can see the air bubbles!
Or at least, I can because I know they were there.
But then the mistakes just kept coming. Because the meringue was falling on the cupcakes and I was afraid it would just start melting off of the side.
But when you bake a meringue, it stiffens up right?
I put them in the oven. For like 5 minutes before I lost my nerve, but it was too late. The cupcakes had absorbed the meringue where the top third of the cake was chocolate and the top was sticky mess. And then, to make it better, I dusted some granulated sugar on top. Like… at this point I was so excited and done with these wonderfully fun failures that I just thought “At this point, it won’t hurt!” It was so much fun, honestly. A mess, but fun.
And again, delicious! I look forward to trying to make these actually shareable, though!
So what do you think? What are some memorable baking fails you have made?