Finally – the cupcakes! After our frightening adventures in the wilderness, Keri and I came to a quick conclusion that a little baking therapy was in order. And that it must, of course, include chocolate.
I’m a scratch baking kind of girl – organic butter, high-quality chocolate, real Mexican vanilla. I’d rather have an invasive medical procedure without anesthesia while being preached at by Pat Robertson than serve someone a cake topped with that nasty, tongue-coating frosting made from Crisco. But in this case, instant gratification was definitely more important than gourmet quality.
At our grandparents’ house in Samoa, there was always a crystal bowl filled with wrapped candy sitting on the coffee table. Keri’s favorite was the triple-layered coconut neapolitans, and mine was the chocolates filled with fruit cream – especially the ones with the delicious orange filling. It was just these candies that I thought of as I opened the cupboard and saw a box of Trader Joe’s chocolate orange cake mix. Perfect. I mixed up the cupcakes while Keri whipped up a lovely orange juice glaze. In about a half-hour we were happily licking sweet chocolate crumbs and tart citrus icing off our fingers. That once-uncomfortable feeling of having narrowly escaped tragedy somehow mixed with the lusciousness in our stomachs and became something more akin to a fuzzy daydream.
While much better than typical grocery store cake mixes, Trader Joe’s still fell a little flat. The cake itself was a bit dry – possibly due to slight overbaking, but more likely to not having enough additional moistening ingredients. Next time I try it, I’ll doctor it up with some sour cream or yogurt and extra vanilla. The real dried orange bits in the cake were delicious, but the chocolate chunks were flat-tasting and sparse. Keri’s glaze – a mix of orange juice, confectioner’s sugar and water was divine.
I like to make cupcakes in cute little souffle cups. They’re sturdy, and you don’t have to use muffin tins, so you can bake a lot more at once. My curmudgeonly volunteer taste-tester said that they looked like specimen cups and griped that they weren’t as easy to eat as with regular cupcake papers.
You can probably guess who won’t be getting any more cupcakes in the near future.