Sunday, November 29, 2009

Faux pas-stess Cupcakes

I made 12 cupcakes for a potluck/house-warming party. Making cupcakes isn't supposed to give you a heart attack.  It's supposed to be pleasant, contemplative, and therapeutic.  When I chose to make Fauxstess Cupcakes from the lovely Ms. Moskowitz's Vegan With A Vengeance, I didn't know that I was choosing to make the most complicated cupcake of my life in front of an audience of 30 curious, omniverous, alcohol-drinking party guests.

Let me back up a bit. I was going to make the Lime Cocounut cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World--which I have made before with great success--but all of my books have been shipped off ahead of me to San Francisco with the rest of my tangible life.  Fortunately, my Mom continues to surprise me; she produced a crisp copy of VwaV that she recently got off amazon.com.  (I don't know if any other vegans out there have a hard time eating with their families, but I'm grateful that I don't.)  She then expressed her faith in my ability to create anything edible by recommending that I simply grab a baguette and a jar of bruschetta sauce from Stop 'n' Shop.

I believe that the nature of the things that you create is affected by the energy that you put into making them.  If you put a lot of effort into creating something, the results will usually reflect that effort in some way.  The creation may be flawed, or ugly, but it will have a soul.  A supermarket baguette and a jar of sauce do not have souls.

Similarly, I believe that the effort you put into a potluck contribution reflects your respect for your fellow guests.  If I throw down a dozen Dunkin' Donuts on the potluck table, I may as well turn around and piss in the punchbowl.  Also, protocol dictates that you arrive with your creation in-hand, offer it to the host, and then mingle with everyone else, mutually admiring the contributions peripherally while focusing on interpersonal interaction.  You shouldn't destroy your host's kitchen by making your contribution on-site, while the party is in full-swing.  That's what I did.

I had spent the day helping my hosts clean their apartment and fetching party supplies and groceries.  I also drove all over Fairfield county looking for a sifter, an electric beater,  and a pastry bag.  I had planned to have the cupcakes done before the guests started arriving, but I had barely got the batter into liners when they started to roll in.  An hour later I was struggling with a separating ganache while loud people were tearing apart a chicken carcass beside me.  (Rabbitt is vegetarian, so his thoughtful in-laws saw it fit to bring a roasted chicken to his potluck.)

In the end, I succeeded.  The sink was filled with messy flour and frosting and filling, but it was impossible to do the dishes in their crowded kitchen.  From that wasteland I emerged holding the fruit of my scrutinized labor aloft on a cutting board, and in a final flourish of drama, spilled three of them onto the floor.

Whatever.  They were good, if ugly.  Best of all, they didn't seem to have absorbed any of my stress, frustration, or self-consciousness.

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