Eat & Drink

Upgrade Your Comfort Foods: Bougie Cupcakes

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I don’t know why, but something about cupcakes makes them taste good like Daddy’s money.  Personally, when I eat a cupcake, the Marie Antoinette soundtrack cues in my head and I pretend like Sofia Coppola and I are in Versailles, holding flutes of champagne and wearing Alexander McQueen dresses made out of rabbit fur.

You can get this sort of sensory experience if you throw down hard cash at some ritzy cupcake store, but that would be stupid.  Most people don’t know this, but baking cupcakes is like the easiest fucking thing ever.  Most people think making cupcakes are like making fucking soufflés or something involving a blowtorch, but they’re not.  They take about 30 minutes and next to no effort.  Lucky for broke-asses like you and me that no one knows about this, because now you can make them for friends to remind them why they keep you around.

Obviously, you could go to the store and buy some cake mix from a box, but the idea is to get people to like you more, not less.  Here’s a yellow cake recipe that’s really hard to fuck up.

You should have most '“ if not all '“ of these things in your kitchen.  If you don’t, you need to borrow your roommate’s dad’s Costco card and get it all in bulk.  This stuff all lasts forever as long as you keep it dry.  Except for the shortening, which you just shove in the freezer and forget about.

this is how you win friends

Mix all the dry ingredients together in one bowl.  Since you’re probably too poor to own a flour sifter, use a whisk to make the dry ingredients all fluffy.  If you’re too poor to own one of those, you need to stop going to the bars so much and learn to save some money.  But in the meantime, use a fork.

Then mix the shortening with the sugar.  Add the wet stuff, mix, add the dry stuff, mix again.  Stick them in cupcake tins, pop them in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees, and pat yourself on the back for not being totally incompetent.

Frosting is even easier, if that were even possible.  Take some cream cheese, add a splash of vanilla, and dump about 3 cups of powdered sugar on top.  Mush it up with your hands until all the sugar is blended.  Add more sugar if it tastes weird.  Frost your cupcakes and you’re done.  Good job.

The most important part of this process is to decorate.  Decorating makes it look like you actually put time and thought into this, so whoever you pawn this stuff off onto will actually appreciate it.  So, garnish with whatever you have in your kitchen, unless whatever’s in your kitchen is going to make your cupcakes gross.  If that’s the case, go outside and pick some flowers or fancy-looking leaves.  Remember that if you’re getting something from a public place like a park or a sidewalk to only pick plants that are growing at least four and a half feet off the ground.  That way you know they don’t have pee on them.

your cupcakes won't look like this no matter how hard you try, so don't bother

Baking puts me in a good mood, so I’ll give you a generous insider tip that will help your baking and your wallet: I get my fancier baking ingredients like expensive vanilla and homemade honey at the farmer’s market.  But, I don’t buy this stuff with cash.  I trade for it all with my cheap-ass cupcakes.  Number one thing to know about farmer’s markets: most of the people who have stands are hippies, which means they’re communists, which means they love to barter.  Cutesy baked goods are the fastest way to a hippie’s heart.  This is important because if you make friends with these people, you won’t be paying anywhere near full price for food anymore.  You should go at the end of the day when they’re done catering to the customers who are actually going to pay full price for their groceries, and then swoop in.  The hippies might be hesitant at first, but if you show up every week and they realize that you’re not trying to poison them, they’ll quickly learn to love you.

Probably the best thing that’s come out of doing this for me is a relationship with a guy who sells fish.  I get stuff like ahi tuna and humongous shrimps.  If someone can top that, post about it here.

cupcake images from Black Eiffel

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Rebecca Pederson - Cheap Date

Rebecca Pederson - Cheap Date

Rebecca graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Literature, but she tells everyone she majored in Psychology so they don't ask her for book recommendations. She likes coffee, pickles, free yoga classes, and spends a lot of time with her dog.