Thursday, January 22, 2009

frances cake, take 14: the martha, martha, martha! edition

generally speaking, i am not a fan of martha stewart, mainly for two reasons. 1. i think her pernicious brand of high-maintenance domesticity serves to do little more than make women feel badly about themselves for not doing "enough" when really, who has time to plant and nurture their own pine forest so they can harvest the cones to make wreaths? sheesh. and 2. i don't think convicted felons should get their own tv shows, unless those tv shows involve bounty hunting, tattoos and/or reality dating.

i will say, though, that martha does know her way around a cupcake, and when holly lent us a copy of martha stewart living with this feature, i knew i would have to break down and try one (or all) of the recipes.

and so it was that morgan joined me to bake some brown sugar pound cupcakes with brown butter glaze. the recipe (which i will include below) was not actually that difficult, especially if you disregarded martha's hoity toity "basic cupcake how-to," which really just confused things. the only thing worth remembering is that these cupcakes have a lot of brown sugar, which morgan and i agreed is probably the most delicious thing in the world. (and yes, we probably ate at least three cupcakes worth of batter. sue us.)

in addition to being an appreciator of fine cupcakes, morgan is a genius at all things electronic, and may or may not have a pin with a programmable LCD screen (or is it a belt buckle?) though i have one nerd leg up on him (gross?) because he has never seen "battlestar galactica." morgan is also planning a trip to spain this summer, which makes me insanely jealous. and he knows all about the emotional wheel, which is pretty sweet.

morgan is also a good person to have around if you decide to make these cupcakes, because he knows how to brown butter. i, myself, did not know that you could turn melted butter brown without also catching it on fire. turns out you can. add it to many, many cups of powdered sugar and it is de-licious. though, as usual, the glaze did give us a bit of trouble. some cupcakes had to be stripped of their glaze and refrosted.

and, despite our best efforts towards equality, some still came out looking better than others. (quoth morgan: "it looks like a bad toupee!")

but, final consensus?


wanna try 'em? here you go!

brown sugar pound cupcakes
(martha says the recipe makes 29, which is the most silly cupcake batch number ever. we made 24.)

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk

1. preheat oven to 325 degrees. cream butter and sugar. add eggs and buttermilk. combine dry ingredients and add.
2. fill each cup 3/4 full and bake for 25 minutes.
3. set rack with cupcakes over a parchment lined baking sheet. spoon glaze over cupcake tops and let stand until set.

brown butter glaze
(makes one cup)

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk

1. heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat until golden brown (about 10 minutes). carefully pour butter into a bowl, leaving sediment behind.
2. add sugar, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of milk to butter; stir until smooth. if glaze is too thick, add more milk. use immediately. (and that part is no joke. just warning you. but make sure the cupcakes aren't too hot, or else you'll get melty toupees.)

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