Monday, August 31, 2009

iFelíz Cumpleaños con "Quequitos" Mexicanos!

Just like wedding season there's also a birthday season. For me, I feel like March-May is the first birthday season, then August-October is the second birthday season.

In the midst of the 2nd Birthday Season, I am lucky to have a grouping of birthdays that are close enough to have one big celebration! Last year, we had a lovely 3-way Birthday Party, and I baked Tres Leches Cupcakes. This year, we had a last minute addition, turning the party into a 4-Way Birthday Party.

4 Birthday Candles for 4 Birthday Boys!

The theme for this party was Tex-Mex/Mexicali. The party hosts are from Texas and fabulous cooks, so we were guaranteed to have a LOT of delicious food. They whipped up some of the best Tex-Mex that I've had...since I've been to California :) Guaranteed, if you're lucky enough to know this couple, you will get the best meal - no matter the cuisine!

My boyfriend was in charge of Sangria, and we used a standard recipe I pulled off the interwebs. We added a bunch of frozen fruit from Trader Joe's, so there are some great berries that end up in your glass.

I was on pastry duty. Since I made Tres Leches Cupcakes last year, I wanted to change it up. I had been hearing a lot about chocolate and chili, and it intrigued me. Could I turn this fabulous idea into a cupcake?

Now, I don't claim to be any baking genius. I give my beautiful pastry chef sister all the credit for inspiring me so. But she's also given me some awesome tips! For example, to get perfect portions of batter into the cupcake cups, you can use an ice cream scooper! It blew my mind when I watched her use that trick! It just makes so much sense, doesn't it?


So, naturally, I asked my sister for advice with the theme, and she suggested adding cinnamon to a recipe. Genius! Though she wasn't able to share a recipe with me because she was in the midst of moving and going back to school, I Googled "Mexican cupcakes." And near the top of the list, was "Cinnamon vanilla cupcakes with Mexican hot chocolate buttercream." GGOOOAAAALLLL!!!

I don't want to repeat the recipe, since I don't want to claim it as my own. I suggest that you visit the website for the recipe and support other bloggers. But, I will tell you about my experience with the recipe.
Batter boobies, created by the electric mixer! Hehehe :)

Now, living in Boston, trying to find Mexican hot chocolate is not easy. There's not a large Mexican community in New England...or at least, not in the city of Boston. I didn't have a lot of time to prep for this, so I didn't look through every "ethnic" grocery store. Shaw's surely didn't have anything remotely close to it. Actually, I had some Ibarra brand Mexican hot chocolate, but it's in the form of a serious block of chocolate that you have to cook. I know that the difference in Mexican hot chocolate is the cinnamon, which makes it slightly spicier.
My suggestion is to mix equal parts of baking chocolate powder and granualted sugar, then 3/4 ts of cinnamon per 1/2 cup of that mix. The recipe calls only for cocoa powder, but this mix I together just adds a little bit more cinnamon and sweetness.
Truth be told, I was really excited about this recipe because I had in my possession Mexican vanilla extract. I am planning to spend a whole 'nother post about my love of Vanilla and my experience with Madagascar vs. Mexican Vanilla extracts. Long story short, there's definitely something about the Mexican vanilla extract that just reminds me of the flora in Southern California.
Mexican colors and flavor!
But aside from the Mexican Vanilla Extract, the real draw of these cupcakes is the hot buttercream icing. And I'm not saying, "warm" icing....I'm saying hot, spicy icing. Regular buttercream icing can get too sweet sometimes. I knew my boyfriend would not be happy with super sugary cupcakes on his birthday. But with the cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and chili powder combination...the cupcakes were a hit!
Muy picante! Spicy!
It was really fun to watch people's reactions to their first bite. At first, you just taste the cinnamon sweetness. As you chew, the taste starts to change slightly to a more savory, spicy flavor. When you swallow, there's this tingly aftertaste from the spicy seasoning. Everyone agreed that they loved it...and soon after, they were craving more!
Cake flour makes for moist cupcakes!
Below, I'm putting in the nutritional facts about these delicious goodies. Though it says the recipe serves 24, I definitely had enough batter to make 30 cupcakes! Maybe it was because I used cake flour instead of all-purpose flour? It always seems a lot more fluffy to me :)
Amount per Serving
  • Calories 420
  • Calories from Fat 80
% Daily Value *
  • Total Fat 9.69g 15%
  • Saturated Fat 5.55g 28%
  • Monounsaturated Fat 0.06g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 0.26g
  • Cholesterol 0.73mg 0%
  • Sodium 59.73mg 2%
  • Potassium 5.91mg 0%
  • Total Carbohydrate 76.06g 25%
  • Dietary Fiber 1.48g 6%
  • Sugars 21.74g
  • Protein 6.8g 14%

Est. Percent of Calories from:
Fat 20.8%
Carbs 72.4%
Protein 6.5%

I'm very proud of these cupcakes. They were all gone before the end of the night! I'd like to believe it was because the recipe was so different, that it titilated my friends' taste buds. Though it's also possible that they felt they had no choice. In honor of our Mexican theme, I brought my boyfriend's bandana and represented the Zapatistas. Who are the Zapatistas, you ask? Educate yourself. Then, you can eat your cupcake, homie.
Viva Zapatista! Viva Quequitos!

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