Sunday, July 3, 2011


I woke up excited (again) to make cupcakes (again), this time for E’s birthday.

I found the recipe for Joy the Baker’s Chocolate - Peanut Butter Cookie Dough – Toasted Marshmallow Cupcakes a month or two ago and I’ve had it bookmarked since then for E.

The chocolate cupcakes are easy, by far the quickest part of the recipe.  Really, they’re practically an afterthought: The important part is the topping.

I hollow out the tops of the baked cupcakes and fit each one with a small cookie dough ball (eggless, of course, so as not to incur salmonella poisoning). After a lunch break, it was time to cook the meringue.

I didn't expect the meringue to be so sticky and hard to work with. I should have. But I didn't. I try to pipe the meringue out of the corner of a Ziploc bag (my pastry tips are MIA), but I can’t form the swirls I want and I give up. I cover each meringue with a thick coating of meringue and push them in the oven under the broiler.

The meringue toasts quickly and the kitchen smells like fire-roasted marshmallows. I tackle a cupcake with a spoon and scoop out just the top – toasted, crisp, sweet meringue and chocolate chip cookie dough, warm and almost melting. 

But I’m worried: the meringue is still slightly sticky in places. The recipe calls for only a minute under the broiler. I gave it two and a half and it's not enough. 

Who am I going to call? M. Definitely M.

I think part of being a successful human being is knowing who to call. Evaluate the situation and use a lifeline. Last night, with a painful ankle and heel, I called K. K is an athlete and, in a year, will be a practicing physical therapist… a very good friend to have. Over the phone, K put me through a series of diagnostic stretches (flexing, pointing, extending…) and, half an hour later, decided that it’s an old injury flaring up from overuse and overtraining (Last weekend’s 10K definitely didn’t help).

K is good at all things athletic. K has also advised the swimming portion of my sprint triathlons and has actually jumped in the pool with me to tweak my stroke.

M is good at all things food. She promises to leaf through a few cookbooks and to call me right back.

With M on speakerphone, I put the cupcakes back in the oven at 350 degrees and set the stopwatch on my iPhone. Two minutes makes all the difference… the cupcakes are saved!

I'm relieved. I realize, though, that I’ve been in the kitchen for over five hours and that I had promised S I would buy beer for the Fourth.  I emerge into the afternoon and it seems really bright and warm outside.

I don’t blame the liquor store for carding me. Right now, I look about twelve years old. I’m covered in meringue and chocolate cupcake batter.

I call M back. We talk cupcakes. I think this batch of cupcakes will be a crowd-pleaser. But, next time, I want to make a really dark chocolate cupcake, with bittersweet chocolate. And I’m committed. I’m going to make cupcakes until I have the perfect cupcake.

Expect to see a lot more cupcakes around here. 


  1. Oh my...I'm waiting for those dark chocolate cupcakes. I can't imagine anything more delicious. The big question is the topping: meringue or ganache???? Maybe both! (But not on the same cupcake.)

  2. I will keep you posted on my progress!

    And I'm in favor of a ganache topping :)