Friday, March 28, 2008

End of an era

Or at least a really nice year.
Our coffee shop is closing. We go there so often we call it the Winchester.
If you don’t get the reference go rent Shaun of the Dead. You’ll thank me.

Its actually called Coffee Plantation but the name isn’t all that important, is it? Its the place that matters, who and what is inside, not a sign over the door.

The Winchester.

I went today. I go on Fridays.
English Breakfast tea, 3 Splendas with room for cream and a bran muffin. They know. Shawn and Dana. They hand me them without asking. Get my tea going when I walk in the door.

Best cup of tea in town.
Today I went to say good bye.

End of really nice year.

Countless quiet Sunday breakfasts.
English Breakfast tea, 3 Splendas with room for cream and a bran muffin.

We didn’t see any family on Easter Sunday. At all.
We hung out at the Winchester with our coffee shop peeps. It’s a Sunday ritual, kinda like church, or as close as I will probably ever get again.
Refreshing, hear some new music. Get a different perspective on life.

Sign of the times...

Our video store closed last week. Small businesses are hurting.
At least our Hi-Fi Video outlasted the Hollywood Video up the street.

"And tomorrow it will be something really a Baby Gap..."

We have walked in and our video store guy was playing his guitar. He played in a band, just like our coffee shop guy.
Well our coffee chop guy IS a band.

You will probably never see an employee of Hollywood Video playing guitar while at work.
Small businesses.

How many will survive these next 2 years?
How many will try to open?

Living the American Dream...even if it doesn’t work you can be free to attempt it. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of a good cup of tea.
The American Dream... which seems only meaningful to immigrants anymore.
Video store guy came here from Vietnam, the owners of the coffee shop are from Korea.

Are we taking it for granted? Of course we are.
Its what we do as Americans, its part of our culture.

I am eating my muffin very slowly and savoring my tea.

I gave my coffee shop guy a hug this morning. Told him we were going to miss him.

Sign of the times.
End of a pretty good year.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Cupcakes and a blog in one day?

Turns out, its not possible. Not with a raging migraine anyway...

So instead of cupcakes and a blog I had cupcakes and a bitch of a throbbing headache yesterday. But getting back to those cupcakes....

I made Peanut Butter Cup cupcakes.

I got a chocolate cupcake recipe from and made a few tweaks so that they would bake evenly with the pb cup stuck inside. I also wanted the pb cup to maintain its integrity during the baking process so I refrigerated them until just before covering them with batter.

For whatever reason the butter (which was way room temp) refused to cream no matter how much I beat it with my mixer (or my bare hands) it just pilled up. grrr So I had bits of it in the batter and it came out and leaked all over. When I pulled out the cupcakes they were literally dripping with butter and there was a pool of butter in each of the muffin cups.

The cupcakes had good texture and flavor and despite the butter making a run for the border, they were plenty moist. They didn't rise a whole lot and they were pretty dense but I think the damp winter season was too much for my can of baking powder so I will be picking up a new one of those before I make anything else.

They look good enough to eat, huh? And don't forget the surprise inside =D

You just can't have a naked cupcake! What would the neighbors say??
Back to for a peanut butter frosting that would compliment the pb cup. Having been burned by no-cook powdered sugar frostings before I was cautious but I also had two boxes of C&H icing sugar I wanted to use up so I went for it. Instead of 2 full cups of powdered sugar I used 1 and 1/4 cups so the peanut butter taste would be the first and last thing you could taste, not the powdered sugar.

A few people bitched that this version of PB frosting was too stiff to spread but I had zero issues with it and it was, indeed, fluffy stuff.
I was excited to load up my pastry bag with a plain tip and pipe it on! Sadly the end result wasn't quite what I had hoped.

Wow, chocolate cupcakes with turd frosting? Tee, you shouldn't have.

Blah, lets try something else...

Thank goodness for offset spatulas! No more poo-cakes!

I finished them off with some chopped peanut butter cups. I like to garnish to give people a hint of whats inside.

For plating I piped some of the extra frosting onto a few PB cups with a star tip, cause I'm fancy like that.

They tasted pretty good but I am too hard on my baking to be anykind of a judge.
The almond extract in the cake recipe was a bit overwhelming and it clashed with a peanut butter. If I make these again I will omit the almond extract and just add more vanilla.
This recipe would be perfect for making a chocolate cake with a cherry filling and chocolate ganache topping as that would compliment the fruit perfectly.

But I would make these again, with more tweaking, of course. I just can't help myself!